In one of his wittier sayings of the season, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving noted – when training camp ended – that most people following the team probably wouldn’t have been able to identify Josh Jooris before camp “if we had given them the J, both Os and an R.”
Jooris had perhaps the best training camp of anybody in the organization. His fitness level was said to have been excellent. His game preparation was praised. He worked hard in practice. And when he was given a shot to play a preseason game, he performed well enough to eventually string together several exhibition appearances. And then the first call-up. And then he beat out Devin Setoguchi for a roster spot. And then he managed to earn consistent ice-time by virtue of being a physical player, who was right-handed and could win draws.
I think it’s safe to say that we all know who Josh Jooris is now.
Here’s the crew that played with Jooris for 100 5-on-5 minutes or more, along with Corsi differential.
Josh Jooris is secretly a possession beast. The only player who is better away from Jooris rather than playing alongside him, in a Corsi sense, is Deryk Engelland (who himself is a possession sinkhole). Literally every other regular teammate of his is improved, with a few of them a lot better with him.
Jooris’ biggest strength arguably is his versatility. He can play right wing, Calgary’s shallowest position, and is the only right-handed regular center on the team – Drew Shore isn’t a regular yet, but is also a right-hander.
And the coolest thing about Jooris? He elevates his game when he’s playing with depth players (and is away from the other team’s top guns, as you’d expect). Here’s two rolling 5-game charts: one is his Corsi For percentage, the other is his time-on-ice per game.
As you can see, they almost mirror each other. That means that generally, Jooris’ possession stats trend up when his ice-time trends down. If you presume that lower ice-time typically is paired with playing with (and against) less-talented players, then Jooris behaves exactly the way you’d hope a player would (which is great, because often that doesn’t actually happen the way it should). Now, when you pair that notion with his WOWY results, here’s the gist: if you keep Josh Jooris away from the top players on the other team (e.g., keep him off the top line), he’s going to help your team and the players you throw him out there with.
Bob Hartley seems to love Jooris, only taking him out of the line-up when injuries slowed Jooris down as the season wore on. He was used quite similarly to Paul Byron – a floating body for the bottom-six (and rarely the second line, but sometimes) that could be used in many different circumstances. Jooris also had the benefit of having a frame that could withstand the physical game a lot more than Byron’s could, and being a right-handed player who could consistently win face-offs in key situations. If he can figure out a way to avoid the nagging injuries that slowed him down later in the year, he should be fine long-term.
What does the future hold for Josh Jooris? Well, he’s subject to waivers now and is a pending restricted free agent. He’ll get a new contract that won’t break the bank, and barring a big leap forward on his part (or the Flames suddenly finding depth on the right side), he’ll at worst be a steady presence on the right side who can win face-offs in specific situations. He’s found money, a guy the team got for absolutely nothing as development camp signee. Until they have a similar asset with a higher ceiling than his (or his production falls off a cliff), I don’t see any reason he can’t remain an NHL regular for a few seasons at least.