Jakub Voracek: Advanced Stats Warrior
Flyers fans have grown accustomed to the lethal tandem of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on the top line. Giroux’s success and talent are apparent to all hockey fans, but Voracek’s contributions are not as well known. Voracek broke out in a big way in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, scoring 46 points in 48 games. He followed that up with 62 points in 82 games this past season; he did this while posting his lowest shooting percentage since 2010. Voracek’s production ability is very strong, and it is reasonable to see him be just short of a point per game pace next season (think 75-80 point range).
However, Voracek’s value is heavily bolstered when looking at his advanced stats. In today’s day and age, puck possession is paramount to a team’s success. It is no coincidence that the last three franchises to win a Stanley Cup (Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins) were among the top possession teams in the league. Voracek brings to the table some of the best possession numbers in the entire league across all the different ways of quantifying possession. The following are his numbers from last season, accompanied with an explanation, according to ExtraSkater.com (all of these numbers are measured at 5v5 play):
Corsi For Percentage (Total, Relative): 55.2%, +7.4%
A player’s Corsi number tells the team’s shot attempt differential when the player is on the ice. This takes into account shots on goal, shots that miss the net, and blocked shots. A CF% of 50% shows an equal amount of shot attempts for each time. Voracek’s CF% lands him in the top 50 overall of the league. However, this number can be skewed by the other players on the ice. His Corsi relative is more individual to him, as it shows how the team does compared to when he is off the ice. A positive CF% Rel shows that a player has a positive impact on this statistic. Voracek is tied for tenth in the league for his CF% Rel with Vladimir Tarasenko and Max Pacioretty. Having a possession driver like this is absolutely critical for the Flyers, and he has shown this ability throughout his career.
Fenwick For Percentage (Total, Relative): 55.0%, +8.0%
Fenwick is very similar to Corsi; the only difference is that it does not take into account blocked shots due to the fact that blocked shots can be considered a defensive skill. Once again, Voracek’s FF% lands him in the top 50 overall. However, his FF% Rel, which uses the same logic as CF% Rel, places him sixth in the league for this stat: incredible. He only trails Zach Parise, Patrice Bergeron, Mark Giordano, Mikko Koivu, and Brad Marchand in this department.
Shots For Percentage (Total, Relative): 54.9%, +9.6%
This statistic is like Corsi and Fenwick, the only difference being that this only takes shots on goal into account. This stat is not as widely used by the “stat community,” but it is an effective one to use with those trying to learn advanced statistics since it is exclusively based on a stat measured normally. Voracek’s total number this time pits him outside the top 50, but his SF% Rel pits him third in the league, only behind Zach Parise and Mark Giordano. This simple view of possession tells that Voracek is simply one of the best possession drivers in the game.
Goals For Percentage (Total, Relative): 60.7%, +16.4%
This stat measurement is similar to SF% in that it is based on a standard quantity. GF% looks at the goals for and against when a player is on the ice, and this is a good stat to use because it shows a definitive result to a player’s presence on the ice. Voracek’s GF% sees him at 36th in the league, another top 50 finish. Going with the trend of the other stats above, Voracek’s GF% Rel moves him into the top 10, 9th to be exact. Not only should this show the correlation between puck possession and scoring, but it should also convince people of Voracek’s exact on-ice value.
There are still many people skeptical of advanced stats’ place in the sport of hockey. These stats should not be the only thing to be relied upon when evaluating a player. Instead, they can help quantify what can be seen on the ice normally. They can also give context to a certain ability overlooked when watching the game. The numbers here reveal that Voracek is one of the top possession players in the league, and with a pick up in production, he can considered to be among the top 25 or so players in the game.