The Flames kicked off their restricted free agency shenanigans by first qualifying 12 of their 15 possible restricted free agents. Of the 12, Dougie Hamilton immediately signed, Max Reinhart was traded away, David Wolf may not be coming back, and three filed for arbitration.
Of the remaining six players, four accepted their qualifying offers. Interestingly enough, the four – Kenny Agostino, Bill Arnold, Drew Shore, and Bryce Van Brabant – all played college hockey.
Josh Jooris was the only college RFA to not accept his qualifying offer. Although, considering he was the only one of the five to basically spend his entire season with the Flames – we can handwave those first five games he missed out on due to being unfairly cut late in training camp – it makes far more sense for him to go for a bigger contract. And he will, especially with his arbitration date set for July 28.
Jooris is a late bloomer who had a surprising rookie season. How much is that worth?
Josh Jooris’ case
Jooris wasn’t on anyone’s radar to make the NHL. He played in the OJHL, never making the OHL. He was undrafted, but continued playing hockey through college. He was invited to three NHL camps along the way: first, the Boston Bruins; then, the Vancouver Canucks; and finally, the Calgary Flames. The third time was the charm, as the Flames offered him a professional contract. In its second and final year, he made the NHL.
Awareness of Jooris, who kind of just looked like an AHL depth signing at first, spiked up around training camp at the start of the 2014-15 season. Along with awareness came popularity, and Jooris was the team’s first injury recall. He scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game, and officially made the NHL around the same time as Johnny Gaudreau.
He has just one year under his belt, but he pretty firmly established himself as an NHL player over that year. During it, his salary was $925,000, and no doubt, that’s a number he wants to go up. There are a few things Jooris’ camp can point towards as reason for a raise, and it starts with his offensive production. After all, 12 goals and 12 assists over 60 games while bouncing throughout the lineup is pretty decent for a rookie.
All numbers taken from the 2014-15 season:
|Lars Eller||25||$2.5 million||15||12||27|
|Dwight King||25||$1.95 million||13||13||26|
|Antoine Roussel||25||$2 million||13||12||25|
|Andrew Shaw||23||$2 million||15||11||26|
|Nick Spaling||26||$2.2 million||9||18||27|
Calvert’s cap hit is comparatively low; however, he did re-sign with the Jackets for an annual average value of $2.2 million, placing him in line with the rest of his group (this contract does take up two UFA years, though). All together, these cap hits average out to a little over $2.1 million.
And it isn’t just that Jooris can provide some decent secondary scoring; he was also one of the Flames’ better possession players. At 47.00%, he had the best SAT of all regular Flames forwards throughout the regular season. Of the players listed above, both Calvert – 47.41% SAT – and Eller – 47.44% SAT – tie right in with him.
The other players in this group played on much better possession teams – the Kings, Stars, Blackhawks, and Penguins were all better – and so, their SATs are all above 50%. Their SAT Rel%s, on the other hand, are less than Jooris’, indicating Jooris’ presence on the ice benefited his team more than those guys’ did. Jooris’ SAT% Rel with the Flames was +1.3, while everyone on this list was a negative player (save for Shaw, who managed a +0.2%).
In fact, Jooris’ camp can even take his decent possession metrics a step further. Cam Atkinson, for example, scored 22 goals and 40 points – so okay, not really in Jooris’ league. However, his SAT was 48.19% – close to Jooris’ 47.00% – and his SAT% Rel was +1.2 – extremely close to Jooris’ +1.3.
Atkinson, in his 25-year-old season had a cap hit of $1.15 million, but re-signed for his remaining RFA year – plus two UFA years – at $3.5 million. If Jooris goes to arbitration, his contract can only be a maximum of two years, which would eat up his remaining RFA years and take him straight to UFA; however, should he and the Flames make a deal before his arbitration hearing, a three-year deal would eat up one of his UFA years.
In the meantime, though, there’s sound reason for Jooris’ camp to ask for $2 million.
The Flames’ case
The Flames would, of course, like to keep Jooris on their team. He was a surprise, but he afforded them some depth they didn’t know they had, which came in particularly handy when just about every centre got injured all at once. However, he’s only had one season in the NHL, and it is as of yet unknown if he can repeat it. All of the above players listed have played more than that.
Furthermore, while a handful of players listed with Jooris’ point totals are making around $2 million, there are more comparables that are making less – including some more rookies from Jooris’ class.
Once again, all numbers are form the 2014-15 season:
This is a younger class, with less NHL experience as a whole. Karlsson and Vey are Jooris’ fellow rookies among this group, just entering the NHL: Karlsson at the same age as Jooris, and Vey’s entry level deal already complete before he actually made it. Together, their cap hits average out to $767,639, which would be a pay cut for Jooris.
However, consider that Karlsson was re-signed by the Sharks for a $1.65 million cap hit, Panik for $975,000, Pearson for $1.4 million, and Vey for $1 million. With those new values in place, the salaries of the above six players average out to $1.1 million.
Some of those points totals for some of those players are a little low, however, there’s still good reason to compare these players to Jooris. Panik’s SAT is 47.71%, for example, and his SAT% Rel +1.4 – near identical to Jooris’ own numbers. Pearson only played 42 games this past season, making his points-per-game .38 (Jooris’ was .4), not to mention his own +1.5 SAT% rel. And Smith-Pelly’s SAT ended up being 47.31% over this past season.
As far as the fellow rookies compare, the points are on-target with Karlsson, but he posted significantly better possession numbers: 54.47% SAT, and +5.1 SAT% Rel. His new contract is the highest of this group, though, and his possession numbers may be reflected in it. Vey was more Jooris’ speed with a 47.93% SAT (although a lesser -1.5 SAT% Rel).
All in all, what this comes down to for the Flames is hoping for a small raise for Jooris, for a total cap hit of just a little over $1 million.
What should the final decision be?
In Bouma’s case, what may very well be a fluke year is being discussed. There are some higher scorers he can point to, but the Flames can point to his lesser years, not to mention his lesser possession stats.
Jooris is both the same and different. This was just his first NHL season, so there’s no telling if this year really was a fluke for him offensively or not; however, he had superior possession stats to his arbitration counterpart. (It can be pointed out that he started in the offensive zone more often than Bouma, giving him a boost, but his numbers still weren’t particularly good; no numbers on the Flames were.)
That said, the two camps may only be about $1 million apart. The decision seems somewhat easy to come to, in that case – settle it at the midway point, about $1.5 million – but fact is, Jooris still only has one year under him. His overall numbers weren’t as good as Karlsson’s, so he shouldn’t get as much as him, and in fact should trend downwards, closer to in between Vey and Pearson’s new deals. Anywhere from $1-$1.4 million seems acceptable – maybe a bit on the higher side taking the Jooris camp’s comparables into mind – until he has further established himself as an NHLer.