Since being selected by the Blue Jackets with the No. 114 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Voronkov has played in five KHL seasons for Kazan Ak-Bars, posting 37-37–74 in 182 games, including 18-13–31 in 54 games in 2022-23. He additionally registered 14-10–24 in 49 KHL playoff games including 7-4–11 in 23 postseason contests this season.
In the press release announcing his signing, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen described Voronkov’s play style.
“He is a skilled player that has shown an ability to score goals while playing a physical two-way game,” Kekalainen said.
The Blue Jackets have players with goal-scoring ability, and players that play a physical two-way game, but they don’t have anyone that has established that they can do both at the NHL level. Adam Fantilli fits this description, but again, he has to prove it on the ice.
In today’s NHL, the player with high-end skill that also isn’t afraid to play physically is a unicorn. The best example of this type of player is Matthew Tkachuk, with Brad Marchand and Tom Wilson as others who fit this description.
Training camp doesn’t start for about three more weeks, and the opening night of the regular season is over a month away, so we’ll have to wait a while before seeing what Voronkov’s role could be this season.
While he may not have the offensive upside of Tkachuk or Marchand, Voronkov certainly has the skill set to play like them. If his ceiling is a player like Wilson, whose career-high in points is 52, who also plays center, the Blue Jackets have a real gem on their hands.
He’s yet to play a game in a Blue Jackets sweater, but Voronkov is one of the most intriguing storylines heading into training camp.