A lot of the complaints about the Flames this year have involved the amount of “dead weight” on the roster. This refers to players on large contracts who aren’t contributing enough to justify their continued presence in the lineup, let alone their cap hits (think: Brandon Bollig, Mason Raymond, Ladislav Smid, etc).
Aside from the impending UFA’s like Jiri Hudler, David Jones, and Kris Russell, the Flames have some interesting decisions to make on a couple of their more middling forwards as well. Both Josh Jooris and Joe Colborne are 25 years old and Restricted Free Agents at the end of this season and, if things don’t turn around for the Flames quickly, might the Flames consider moving one or both of them if a team comes calling at some point this season? What would you do?
Talk about found money. I remember attending a development camp scrimmage in the summer of 2013, eager to see the newly drafted Sean Monahan and some of the college players that were difficult to get eyes on during the season. During the game, I, like many others in attendance I’m sure, was constantly checking my game sheet wondering: “Who is this 86 guy?”
That was Josh Jooris, who left Union College that summer to sign a 2-year ELC with the Flames and essentially barged his way on to the Flames roster last season. In his rookie season, Jooris put up an impressive 24 points in 60 games in only his second year as a professional, let alone his first year in the NHL. In the summer, Jooris signed a one-year, $975,000 extension with the Flames, making him a Restricted Free Agent this summer again. The question becomes: is Jooris the kind of player that the Flames want to hang on to? Or should they move him if a team comes calling?
While there is no doubt that Jooris is a useful bottom six-er for the Flames right now, the Flames may want to consider other options available to them on the Farm instead of re-committing to Jooris for another short-term deal.
Many have complained that the presence of the forward group’s ‘dead weight’ has made it difficult for younger players like Bill Arnold or Markus Granlund to get a fair shake at the NHL level. This is absolutely true and I am sure we all can agree that moving Mason Raymond (not to crap all over Raymond, his deal is just the most onerous) is something that the Flames brass would like to do. However, if that means taking on another bad deal or retaining salary for a few seasons, then isn’t that move essentially lateral drift?
Jooris is off to a bit of a slow start counting-numbers wise, though he has managed to be (marginally) a positive possession player so far this season, one of only four Flame forwards to do so in somewhat regular game action this season. Furthermore, Jooris has shown an ability to kill penalties and suppress shots, something the Flames desperately need.
I am not suggesting the Flames sell Jooris for a conditional seventh and I am also not interested in speculating on his value (because that is message board fodder). I simply wonder if the Flames wouldn’t consider freeing up a roster spot by moving some of their more affordable assets rather than the Sisyphean task of trying to move some of their more expensive players.
There might not be a more frustrating Flames forward to watch than Joe Colborne. There are moments in which he looks like an exceptionally skilled passed with great hands and size, and then there are times in which he looks like a confused, lost newborn antelope experiencing ice for the first time.
In his most recent seasons, Colborne has started to focus on using his size along the boards and it looks as though he really has made great strides in this aspect of his game. Also, he’s good in shootouts which may seem trivial but the Flames aren’t exactly swimming with skilled forwards and, thanks in large part to the loser point, playoff races are exceptionally tight, placing added emphasis on this skills competition.
However, Colborne routinely loses men in defensive zone coverage and, through his 15 games played, is the worst possession forward on the entire team. I think Kent accurately articulated what it’s like to watch Colborne for most Flames fans:
Colborne with his patented blend of ‘wow’ and ‘ugh’ tonight.
— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) November 11, 2015
So what can be done with him? Do the Flames re-sign him for another couple seasons? Do they bet that he will sort out his possession problems as he becomes a more effective player in the opposition end? Or, is this it for Colborne? Is this the player he will be for the rest of his career? Is that a player the Flames want to keep around? Do the Flames try and take advantage of his cheap contract and a league-wide size fetish and try to move him for an asset of some variety?
Let me know what you think of both Jooris and Colborne’s deals. Sign both? Trade one? Trade both? You tell me.