Voracek has remained on injured reserve since he sustained a concussion Nov. 4 in a game against the Colorado Avalanche. The 33-year-old veteran said in December that he has had around “seven or eight” concussions throughout his career. At the time, Voracek said he was not contemplating retirement. But the fact he and his contract were traded to the Coyotes suggests he might have already played his last game.
He signed an eight-year extension carrying an $8.25 million cap hit in 2015 when he was with the Philadelphia Flyers. In 2021, the Flyers traded Voracek to the Blue Jackets, the team that had drafted him, in exchange for Cam Atkinson. Voracek has one more season left on his current contract, which would have left the Blue Jackets with what CapFriendly projected to be $11.154 million in cap space ahead of next season.
But now? Columbus will have more than $19 million in cap space, which allows it to be an active player in the offseason, whether through free agency or trades.
As for the Coyotes, taking on the Voracek contract is the latest in what has been a series of moves to ensure they will reach the cap floor next season. Last month, they made a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights to acquire defenseman Shea Weber‘s contract with the notion he is also expected to not play again. Weber has three years left on a deal that will pay him $7.857 million annually. Plus, the Coyotes also have one more year of Bryan Little‘s contract left at $5.291 million.
The decision to get Voracek’s contract, in turn, means the Coyotes could hypothetically move a player on a large contract to gain more draft capital. The Coyotes were long thought to be one of the teams more actively looking to subtract rather than add entering the deadline. On Wednesday, they traded defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2026 third-round pick. Later in the day, they sent defenseman Jakob Chychrun to the Ottawa Senators for a conditional 2023 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 second-round pick from the Washington Capitals and a 2026 second-round pick.
Entering Thursday, the Blue Jackets and Coyotes were among the teams in the running to win the NHL draft lottery and select Connor Bedard, the presumed No. 1 pick. The Blue Jackets have the fewest points of any team in the NHL while the Coyotes are fifth with a difference of five points separating them.