Actually going to arbitration isn’t ideal. It can be a terse environment, and one where you can end up talking down your employee – one you want to keep – to his face. It’s kind of best for everyone if that doesn’t happen, and a deal is reached independently.
That didn’t quite happen in Lance Bouma’s case, but the Flames and the player were still able to come to a decision independent of the arbitrator – even though they already had the hearing.
Things didn’t reach that point with Josh Jooris. The team and player didn’t even have time to submit their arguments, as they reached a deal well before they were due: one year, $975,000.
How does that deal compare to the rest of the league?
From just under to $1 million
As far as NHL players go, Jooris is cheap. He’s on a very affordable depth contract: the exact kind of contract you want when you’re up against the cap, and the exact kind of player you want when you need to fill out the rest of your lineup.
This doesn’t quite fit the Flames’ criteria. They aren’t up against the cap – yet – and they have a lot of depth forwards who will be contending to fill out those remaining roster spots. But you can’t argue with getting a serviceable forward for cheap, and that’s exactly what the Flames have done.
Jooris has joined a group of 15 forwards, most of whom are in their early-mid 20s, and most of whom are on their third contracts. All numbers, unless otherwise stated, from the 2014-15 season:
|Player||Cap Hit||Age||Goals||Assists||Points||Points Per Game|
|Matt Martin||$1 million||25||8||6||14||.18|
|Linden Vey||$1 million||23||10||14||24||.32|
|Steve Moses*||$1 million||25||36||21||57||.95|
|Justin Fontaine||$1 million||27||9||22||31||.44|
|Patrick Bordeleau**||$1 million||27||6||5||11||.13|
|Casey Cizikas||$1 million||23||9||9||18||.26|
* Steve Moses is an undrafted 5’9, 170 lbs. forward who spent four years at the University of New Hampshire before going to play in Finland. His numbers are from his 2014-15 season with Jokerit in the KHL.
** Thanks to various injuries, Patrick Bordeleau only played one game in 2014-15. His numbers here are from the 2013-14 season, in which he played all 82 games for the Avalanche. He carried the same cap hit then.
Some fun facts from this group:
- Panik, Vey, and Moses are the only players other than Jooris to be on one-year deals. Panik and Vey are younger and on their third contracts; Moses is older and on his first. This is Jooris’ second contract.
- Eight players within this cap range are on their third contracts. Six, including Jooris, are on their second. Martin is the only player older than Jooris to be on his second contract, but his deal is the longest of this group, at four years.
- In a sea of 23 year olds, Jooris is the ninth oldest player on this list, 12 days younger than Brown.
- Jooris is doing pretty well for himself, scoring-wise. Of NHL forwards this past season, only Spooner, Lander, Sheahan, and Fontaine scored at a higher clip than he did.
- Spooner and Lander – the NHL forwards with the highest points per game ratios – didn’t play that much, with just 29 and 38 games. Jooris had 60. Sheahan and Fontaine, 79 and 71.
- If Spooner and Lander had spent more time in the NHL, it’s reasonable to assume their points per game ratios would have gone down.
- Sheahan and Fontaine were coming off of .57 and .32 point per game seasons in their rookie years, respectively, placing Jooris’ own rookie year right in between them, but closer to Fontaine: another undrafted college player.
Via War on Ice, a quick look at how the 13 relevant players were used over the 2014-15 season:
There are two ways in which Jooris stands out:
- His is one of just five blue circles, meaning he was one of just five players to make a positive difference for his team whenever he was on the ice. His CF% rel was the least impressive of the positive impact guys, though: fifth out of five, at +1.31. Sheahan had the best number at +2.15.
- Spooner aside, he was the most sheltered of the players with a +6.41 ZSO% rel. At least he didn’t post negative relative possession numbers like Spooner did.
Based on this, Nolan is the biggest negative standout here: not only does he barely score, but the play goes against him constantly in relatively easy circumstances.
Fast has the most hidden value: he’s not scoring a lot, either, but he’s the only positive relative possession player to actually get buried in his own zone. If he got the zone starts the other positive guys got – who, not at all coincidentally, were the higher scorers – he’d probably be putting up more points.
Putting it all together
Jooris is a good depth player who can easily fit in throughout the lineup, and provide some offence along the way. He doesn’t hurt his team when he’s on the ice; on the contrary, compared to other forwards of similar value, he’s one of the better ones at ensuring the play goes north rather than south.
What remains to be seen is if he can do it while playing in more difficult circumstances. His quality of competition was modest in his rookie year, but he definitely had an easier time than several other Flames with his zone starts.
To reach the next level – and improve on his one year “show me” deal – Jooris will need to at the very least maintain his points production, or increase it (which may be difficult for him, as the top six has gotten awfully crowded awfully fast. A quarter of his points last season came from playing with Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler, which he may not get to do again).
A side bonus is if he’s able to maintain the same possession numbers with more defensive zone starts. There’s nothing wrong with starting in the offensive zone a lot – it’s part of the reason the top line put up such big numbers – but in order to give your top line an easier time scoring, you need players who can handle starting in the defensive zone. If Jooris can become one of those guys, then the Flames will really have an excellent depth player on their hands: all from an undrafted college forward they were the first to give a real chance.