Josh Jooris signed with the New York Rangers to a one-year, two-way, $600,000 contract earlier in the offseason. The move is one of several bargain hunter-type acquisitions that the team has made this offseason, and despite not being guaranteed a roster spot to start the season, Jooris is the kind of player who could be substantial when injuries and the like occur. Jooris had a solid season back in 2014-2015 by netting 24 points in 60 games, but followed that performance with only 13 points in 59 games in 2015-2016 (which is what allowed the Rangers to grab him at a discount).
Jooris may not play in every game this season, but he could help solidify the fourth line, kill some penalties and bounce around the lineup when injuries occur.
Filling out the Fourth
The Rangers were dedicated to giving the team a different look this season; they let Dominic Moore walk in free-agency, and went out to sign guys like Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe and now Jooris. At the moment, there are still several balls in the air when it comes to who slots in where but it seems like Jooris will be one of the candidates to compete for the now vacant fourth-line center gig. This year’s bottom-forward unit looks like it will have a bit more offensive flair and that could help the case for a guy like Jooris, who has the offensive awareness to make some plays.
To win the job, Jorris will need to be good on the penalty-kill, relentless on the forecheck, and prove to Rangers’ head coach Alain Vigneault that he can make something happen with the puck regularly because the competition for the job is abundant. He isn’t a great face-off man, and that’s a detail that could hurt him. Last season, he won just 44.4 percent of his draws, which could be scary for a team like the Rangers that likes to use this unit in the defensive zone.
Jooris isn’t the Tanner Glass-type that’s going out to look to drop the mitts with anyone who wrongs a teammate, but he certainly has a bit of bite to his game. This could help his case for making the team, as the Rangers don’t look like they will be carrying Glass this season. Jooris only had 62 hits last season, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s usually hacking and whacking to win pucks in the corner. A good fourth line needs to pressure a defense, and his relentless style and willingness to throw big hits will only help his cause.
The second-year forward was also one of Calgary’s more reliable penalty killers, as he finished the season seventh on the roster in time-on-ice while short-handed, with 91:26 logged. He also had two short-handed points, which would have left him second on the Rangers last season ahead of Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, who had two combined.
I think this was a fabulous signing by the Rangers. Many people don’t know or recognize Jooris, but I suspect that if he does make the team that he will become a fan favorite within a month. He has all the tools to be a reliable fourth liner that can also produce some points, and his game is consistent with what New York was looking for this offseason regarding being fast. Jooris has a solid frame but he also has some explosive speed in his legs, and at 26-years-old, he should still have plenty of hockey left in him.
I think that he will start the year as the Rangers’ fourth-line center, but where things go from there is yet to be seen. I think the Rangers will need a bit of bite up front because they currently they don’t have much. If things don’t work out, Jooris ends up in the AHL working with the Hartford Wolfpack, but if they do, well then the Rangers have found a younger, faster Moore.