50MC's Fantastic Fantasy Forecast is a series of articles based on the season outlook of carefully handpicked NHL hockey players. To view a complete listing of 2010 forecasts, click here. For last season's "fearless" archive, click here.
Jakub Voracek is a stud. Not only did he help me win the first ever DobberHockey World Junior Championship pool in 2008; he has good speed, great skill and a gigantic set of curly blonde locks. Most importantly, he is entering his third full season in the NHL and if not poised for a breakout season, an improvement of his 50 point season is inevitable.
Last season, Voracek had a very good sophomore season scoring 16 goals and 50 points, which was an improvement of 38 points from the season prior. Although there were a few inconsistent points during the season, there was no major sophomore slump, which is impressive for any 21 year old player coming into the league. His most impressive period of the season was right after the Olympic break, where he scored 15 point in 13 games, showcasing what he is capable of.
His 50 point campaign was mainly completed playing tertiary minutes. He played most of the season with Derrick Brassard and RJ Umberger on Columbus' second line. Although there are early training camp reports that he is clicking well on the first line with Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette on the top line, he is likely to start the season on that same line with Brassard as his center. Brassard had a disappointing 36 points last season, but is still capable of distributing the puck and keeping up with Voracek's skillset.
What is more exciting for the Blue Jackets and fantasy owners is that on the other wing on the second line should be Nikita Filatov. It sounds like the 2008 1st round pick is finally ready to make the leap to the NHL and if so, it could mean a major boost for scoring depth in Columbus. No offense to RJ Umberger, but Filatov is more of a goal scorer and a dynamic skater who would compliment Voracek better.
There is no doubt that Voracek will see time with Rick Nash during point of the season. This fact alone boosts his point total by a few, and if he sticks on his line, then the sky is the limit for him. But for now, I will project him as a second line winger with occasional time on the top line.
Another factor that is surely to boost Voracek's and the rest of the Blue Jackets' numbers is a coaching change. For years, fantasy fanatics were in a rage at the defensive style of Ken Hitchcock. Well, Hitchcock is out and Scott Arniel is in. Arniel's first order of business is to open up the ice and let his skilled players go to work. This is not just music to fantasy owners' ears, it's like if ears can eat, they would be shoving cake in there. The Jackets have a solid set of 6 top forwards with a tremendous amount of skill, who have been somewhat hampered over the years by Hitchcock's defense-first style. With Hitchcock as a "special advisor" to the team, there will still be some defensive mindedness, but with Arniel at the helm, offensive push will become more of a priority.
Okay, so let's review: Great hair, unreal skill, top 6 forward on a team that includes Rick Nash that will focus more on offense. Taking all this into consideration, 50MC Fantastically Forecasts 23 goals, 36 assists for 59 points in another season of improvement for Voracek. The 60-point plateau is definitely attainable for Voracek, but do not draft him banking on it. His has an upside of 75+ points, but he is still young, learning a new system and still battling some depth issues on a talented team. The Hockey News believes Voracek will finish with 66 points this season, while Forecaster is on board with 69. I think that is a tad high, considering that he may not get topline minutes and Rick Nash led the team in scoring last season with 67 points.
Hope this helps.
Anyways, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more as the season is just around the corner. With the rest of the forecasts, click here for the archive.