Flyers extend Jakub Voracek for eight years, $66 million

JAKUB VORACEK missed a few putts toward the end of his golf round yesterday afternoon. It wasn't because of the sweltering heat index or a late-afternoon thunderstorm. It was because of excitement.

He'd just agreed to the richest free-agent contract of the summer.

General manager Ron Hextall, fresh off a contract extension agreement with Sean Couturier on Tuesday, locked up the team's leading scorer from the 2014-15 season - signing Voracek to a reported eight-year, $66 million contract extension, which carries a salary-cap hit of $8.25 million annually.

"It's one of the best moments of my life, that's for sure," Voracek said.

Voracek, who was acquired from Columbus in 2011 for Jeff Carter in the same deal that netted the pick used to draft Couturier, was due for a big raise from his current cap hit of $4.25 million. He'll finish out the final year of the four-year, $17 million contract he signed in the summer of 2012.

His new contract will carry through the 2023-24 season. The Flyers will have the first-line and power-play combo of Claude Giroux and Voracek until at least 2022, when Giroux' contract expires.

Hextall had said recently he preferred reaching a deal with Voracek and agent Petr Svoboda before the first day of training camp on Sept. 17.

"We just got to the point in the last few days where we were both tapped out and it was time to make a deal," Hextall said.

"Clearly, it was our No. 1 priority [this offseason]. The Jake Voraceks of the world are few and far between. He's certainly not a player that we're willing to take the risk of losing."

Voracek led the Flyers with 81 points last season, winning the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the team's Most Valuable Player. He was one assist shy of Washington's Nicklas Backstrom for the NHL lead in assists, finishing with 59. At the NHL Awards last month in Las Vegas, Voracek was named a First Team All-Star.

Over the last three seasons, no other winger has more assists than Voracek's 122, and his 189 total points rank third among wingers over that stretch, behind only Alexander Ovechkin (216) and Phil Kessel (193). He hasn't missed a game over that span, either, playing in a team-high 226 consecutive games.

All things considered, the contract is pretty fair, based on his production and the contracts of other wingers like him.

St. Louis recently signed 23-year-old winger Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year, $60 million deal that carries an average cap hit of $7.5 million. Voracek, who turns 26 in two weeks, has been more productive than Tarasenko the last two seasons, outscoring the Russian in points, 143-116, over that span.

In 2013, two other top wingers, Corey Perry and Kessel, who have similar points-per-game numbers to Voracek, signed eight-year deals for at least $8 million per season.

"If you look at the market right now, it's a fair deal for us and a fair deal for Jake," Hextall said.

As it stands, after signing Couturier and Voracek this week, the Flyers have just over $61 million committed to 15 players (out of 23 maximum NHL contracts) for the 2016-17 season, according to cap numbers from GeneralFanager.com. The salary cap this season is $71.4 million.

Hextall's work is far from over.


On Twitter: @Jeff_Neiburg