Stepan vs. Voracek: Who your Pick?
At first glance, little separates the two 25 year-old emerging superstars Jakub Voracek and Derek Stepan. Both have been at the eye of Stanley Cup Playoff appearances for their respective teams and both have failed to raise the Stanley Cup. Both have also put up impressive numbers during their stints in the NHL, while becoming go to leaders on their respective rosters.
Voracek, a native of the Czech Republic, has become an automatic 20 goal-scorer in every season with Philadelphia. Stepan on the other hand is more known for his ability to distribute the puck to teammates reigning in 105 assists in the past three seasons. Both men have also recently signed big contracts, an attempt by their organizations to cement their place as superstars in their hockey markets.
Stepan, a 2nd round draft pick out of the University of Wisconsin found himself in an arbitration battle this off-season with the New York Rangers. The Rangers saw the departure of Martin St. Louis but was able to keep the core nucleus of a team that has reached the Eastern Conference Finals three of the last four years. Stepan was a major piece of a bigger puzzle that management felt it necessary to retain despite Stepan rejecting the initial offer worth a reported $5.2 million. New York management did not feel he was worth the $7.25 million requested. However, before the two sides could sit for their scheduled arbitration, a deal was struck giving Stepan a six year, $39 million front loaded contract. The contract is set to make him the 2nd highest paid player on the Rangers behind Rick Nash.
Jakub Voracek has found himself as part of Philadelphia Flyers dynamic duo with Captain Claude Giroux. For a team coming off an underachieving season, but with new hope in head coach Dave Hakstol. Keeping a talented young forward that adds chemistry to the roster was essential. While the Flyers struggled to earn wins Voracek had his best season tallying a stellar 81 points (22 G, 59 A). In 2012 Voracek was signed to a four year deal worth $4.25 million. A signing that many felt was proof that the young Czech was expected to fill the massive skates left by Jaromir Jagr. With one year left on that deal Philadelphia did not want to risk losing their fantastic forward to possible free agency. With this in mind they began contract negotiations this past off-season. Proving how highly they think of Voracek, the Flyers rewarded him with an eight-year $66 million dollar contract.
Voracek's payday puts him in the upper echelon of highest paid players in the league. Finding himself in the same conversation as Marian Hossa, Steven Stamkos, and Zdeno Chara in pay will also require him to a higher expectation of success. Unforgiving Philadelphia fans will not tolerate mediocrity for long even if individual success is had.
Stepan, on the other hand will be expected to continue as a leader on and off the ice for the platoon heavy Rangers. Likely, he will find himself on a first line with Chris Krieder and Rick Nash. With expectations to take the next step of Broadway immortality.
The question becomes; who is more likely to reward their team for their new hefty price tag?
* Photo by Getty Images
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