For a second straight summer, the Calgary Flames have a relatively easy decision on their hands when it comes to Josh Jooris. Since debuting with the Flames in October of 2014, Jooris has given the team solid value in his two NHL seasons to date. I don’t think there should be much debate as to Jooris’s immediate future with Calgary, but perhaps you disagree.
Jooris marks the fourth of our series of RFA profiles. Here’s what we’ve covered thus far:
- May 20 – Bill Arnold, Kenny Agostino, Turner Elson, Bryce Van Brabant
- May 24 – Drew Shore, Freddie Hamilton, Tyler Wotherspoon
- May 29 – Joni Ortio, Kevin Poulin
- Today – Josh Jooris
- June 3 – Joe Colborne
I think the debate on Jooris is an easy one, but a worthy one to have all the same.
First and foremost, Jooris is a solid, effective bottom six forward. He understands the two-way game well, he is consistent, and he very rarely hurts you. There are some depth forwards who jump over the boards, skate around, maybe touch the puck a few times, and hope to not get scored on. Jooris isn’t one of these players, as he’s been a very useful player in his two years with the Flames. His possession totals speak to that very nicely.
On a negative possession team like the Flames, Jooris’s totals here are very respectable and show his rookie season wasn’t a fluke. Jooris was Calgary’s top possession forward during the 2014-15 season but also had his minutes sheltered; his offensive start ratio that year was fourth highest on the team. This past season was a different story, though.
Jooris went from the fourth most offensive starts among forwards in his first year to the fourth least in his sophomore season. As such, seeing his raw possession rate take a small step forward is very much impressive. If the Flames are true to their word and hire a coach who prioritizes having the puck, Jooris could benefit in a big way.
Over the last two years, Jooris has given Calgary some really effective minutes for under a million dollars on the salary cap. The next piece of good news is that’s likely to continue on his next deal. Jooris carried a cap hit of $975,000 last year and I would imagine his next deal with the team would be in and around that neighbourhood.
Jooris didn’t have staggering offensive totals this year (more on that later), so a significant rise from last season’s hit is unlikely. We all know where this team’s salary cap is going, so having an effective player like Jooris signed for such a reasonable number is extremely valuable. Earlier this season, I pegged Jooris as one of Calgary’s best value contracts. That won’t be changing in year three with the team.
Finally, let’s not forget the price the Flames paid to acquire Jooris: nothing. Jooris signed as a free agent out of Union College after attending the team’s development camp in the summer of 2013. Jooris isn’t quite in the Mark Giordano stratosphere of undrafted free agents, but I’d take getting a solid NHLer like him for free any day of the week.
Jooris is never going to give you a ton of offensive production. After seeing him post 12 goals and 24 points in his rookie season, Jooris’s offensive totals dropped in year two. There’s a good reason for that, though, as you’ll see below.
You’ll notice a significant drop in Jooris’s shooting percentage which lends itself most to his offensive drop-off. To put it into perspective a little bit, 13.5% is a sky high shooting rate while 5.0% is a few percentage points under the league average. If things normalize a little for this coming season, seeing him in the 6-10 goal range and 15-20 point range is a reasonable expectation.
It really is a stretch to come up with a ton of “cons” to re-upping Jooris, but I’ve got a two more minor ones as I attempt to provide some balance. First, he’s turning 26 in July and is likely approaching his NHL ceiling. Jooris is a solid, effective depth forward but probably isn’t going to ascend much higher than that.
Finally, he’s had to battle some injury woes during his first two seasons in Calgary. None of the injuries Jooris has had to deal with have been major, but they’ve limited his effectiveness at times. At 6’1 and 185 pounds, Jooris is on the smaller side for depth forwards, so playing through nagging ailments might be par for the course going forward.
This is the easiest one yet for me: qualify the guy and sign him to another deal. Unlike every other pending RFA we’ve profiled, I’d advocate for more than just a one year deal, too. For me, Jooris has proven to be an effective NHLer and having him under contract for a couple years at a really reasonable price is an attractive thought. The Flames are going to need affordable players like Jooris going forward, so not keeping him in the fold seems silly to me. The pros far, far outweigh the cons here and I would be stunned if the team doesn’t sign him to another deal this summer.