Josh Jooris was the poster child for making a splash, coming out of virtually nowhere and winning the hearts of hundreds of Flames fans for his unyielding work ethic, depth scoring, and penalty kill work. The undrafted Union College forward made a strong case for sticking around.
This past season? It was noticeably dissimilar at times as it seemed like Jooris was under-used for the attributes and the skill set he possessed. Make no mistake though: the Flames shouldn’t walk away from him at all.
Riding on increased expectations from his rookie season in the NHL, Jooris entered the Flames’ roster predominately in a fourth line role. Well away from the varied usage he saw previously, Jooris, for the most part, was anchored away from seeing much of anything beyond limited penalty kill time, and saw sparse time at 5v5.
In 59 games played, Jooris averaged 12:17 per game, a noticeable difference from the season before of 14:29. Even with the consistent issues of staying in the lineup he still managed to accumulate a modest 80 shots through all situations. And with that, due to the budget cutting of sorts on his usage and ice time, he still managed a discreet four goals and nine assists.
At times it felt like Jooris had fallen out of favor with former coach Bob Hartley. Jooris only really missed three games due to a lower body injury in late March. Everything else was a healthy scratch which was never really justified.
If there is but one potential justification it would be the polar opposite of his decent penalty differential from the year before: -9 for 2015-16 to 2014-15’s +7 at even strength. His aggressive play often got the best of him – which is extremely unfortunate – when the Calgary Flames’ penalty kill could have benefited from more structure and what he offers.
IMPACT ON TEAM
(Jooris is highlighted in the black circle)
As Pat Steinberg mentioned in his recent RFA piece on Jooris, he saw the essential inverse from last season in zone starts. Objectively it’s likely a factor behind the relatively average results on this team’s performance. Compared to his rookie season, the TOI QoC is no real difference with 2015-16’s season of 28.33% to 2014-15’s 28.88%.
When we look at his WOWYs, they appear to be all over the map in a similar fashion to a few bottom six forwards on this team. It’s painfully obvious that when on the ice with the Brandon Bolligs of the world or even Matt Stajan they see a positive modest push in most cases.
Whereas when Jooris was on the ice with Kris Russell, Micheal Ferland, and even Sam Bennett for limited showings there was a very apparent impact on the players involved. This could be a byproduct of various aforementioned factors that can be remedied with the help a new coach, but more importantly it does illustrate that Jooris isn’t a god.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
The salary cap situation with measurable dead weight, the team potentially looking to options in Stockton, and whomever they draft may potentially limit roster spots this fall. The stark reality – which is very similar to Paul Byron – is this: Josh Jooris is someone they might have to part with. Though I would vehemently disagree with this as an option.
The value Jooris brings, which has been covered ad nauseam in the past proves that NHL depth is something to covet. Previously when discussing this very area of concern, I mentioned the pitfalls of a team like Pittsburgh that struggled to cultivate skilled NHL depth. Now, that very team has the all the right pieces in place and is in the Stanley Cup Final.
By no means is Josh Jooris a Conor Sheary or Bryan Rust, as they’ve proven to have better results offensively, but he’s of the ilk of cheap effective depth. Not everyone can be a superstar, but some can be destined for stardom in their respective role.
Surrounding the burgeoning talent this roster possesses with Jooris archetypes who can play the penalty kill and provide safe impacts at 5v5 help facilitate success in an organization.
By no means is everything flawless about Jooris’ game, but it’s measurably better than his cohorts’ glued to the bottom six role on this team currently. If he is re-signed (which he should be), he provides value as outlined, and if he falls out of favor he’s a potential trade chip.
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