The Columbus Blue Jackets made it clear that nobody is off-limits with the shocking trade of star forward Cam Atkinson for Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek. The trade came less than a day after Atkinson signed autographs for fans at the team’s draft party on Friday, so the deal caught many off guard. Here, we’ll analyze the Atkinson trade, the emotional and hockey side of the deal, and what the Blue Jackets will get out of it.
Atkinson’s Career in Columbus
With Atkinson’s first 10 seasons in the NHL being with the Blue Jackets, it wouldn’t be right to discuss this trade without first examining the accomplishments he set during his year in the franchise.
In Columbus, Atkinson recorded 402 points (213 goals, 189 assists) in 627 games played with the club. His point, goal, and games played totals are second in team history behind only Columbus legend Rick Nash.
Atkinson also holds the franchise record for most short-handed goals with 16 and the most hat tricks with six. Atkinson is also second in team history behind Nash in power-play goals (42) and game-winning goals (42).
His long-time presence and accomplishments in Columbus made Atkinson a fan favorite over the years. There is no doubt for that reason, his departure from the team will be emotionally difficult for many to come to terms with. However, when you look at the hockey side of the deal, it makes perfect sense.
Voracek Will Bring a Boost to the Blue Jackets Power Play
One major positive of this deal is the effect Voracek will have on the Columbus power play. The man advantage has been a point of criticism for the team, sitting at 28th in the NHL at 17% over the last five seasons. Voracek’s skill on the power play will bring a boost to the struggling unit.
In the past five seasons, Voracek has had 101 points on the power play (18 goals, 83 assists) in 364 games played with Philadelphia. That averages out to 0.28 power-play points per game. In that same time frame, Atkinson had 62 points on the man advantage (25 goals, 37 assists) in 327 games played, for 0.19 power-play points per game.
Even though Atkinson had seven more power-play goals, Voracek had more than double the assists. Voracek’s playmaking ability will help feed the puck to dangerous shooters like Patrik Laine, should he return. In theory, that should result in better puck movement and more goals, therefore, a higher power-play conversion rate. Voracek’s passing and creativity on the power play will help the Blue Jackets greatly.
Voracek Is Younger and Has Been Healthier
At 31 years old, Voracek is younger than Atkinson, who is 32. Not only is Voracek younger, but he has also been able to stay healthy, while Atkinson has had multiple stints on injured reserve. In the past five seasons, Voracek has played 364 games to Atkinson’s 327.
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On top of Voracek being one year younger and staying healthy, he also has one less year on his contract than Atkinson, making his contract much lower risk. That puts Columbus in a much better spot for a rebuild.
Voracek has stayed healthy and is younger. With one less season on his contract, this is one way this deal made sense for Columbus when it comes to the business side of the trade.
Voracek Scores More Than Atkinson
This next part will surprise many – Voracek is a better scorer than Atkinson, outscoring Cam in three of the past five seasons.
In his career, Voracek has averaged 60.4 points per year. As a matter of fact, his average in the past five seasons is above that career average (62.2 points per season), including an 85-point season in 2017-18.
For comparison, Atkinson’s career average is 40.2 points per season. Although his average total is well above that mark since 2016-17 at 47.4 points per season, it doesn’t even come close to Voracek’s average of 62.2 points.
Voracek has been a better scorer than Atkinson in his career, and his playmaking ability will be great for a team with snipers like Laine and Emil Bemstrom. Look for Voracek to bring a swift and noticeable boost to the Blue Jackets offense this upcoming season by feeding the puck to players like mentioned above.
Hockey Wise, This Trade Makes Sense for the Blue Jackets
At first glance, this trade may seem like a head-scratcher, but once the initial shock of Cam Atkinson no longer wearing a Blue Jackets sweater passes, the reasoning will be clear. This trade was a great deal for the rebuilding franchise, and they will reap the benefits of the trade this season, especially on the power play.
Cody Chalfan is currently a journalism major at the Ohio State University who grew up in Columbus and loves hockey, especially the Blue Jackets. He is disabled, therefore he is a major advocate for the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone movement. A piece he wrote focusing on the Blue Jackets’ work on expanding the sport into the local special needs community can be found here. Cody can be contacted via Twitter (@cachalfan) direct message for comments, constructive criticism, or story ideas.