After a rookie breakout, it’s a safe bet Josh Jooris is pencilled in for more than one pre-season contest this fall.
That doesn’t mean that his name is written in ink on the Calgary Flames’ opening-night roster.
And the 25-year-old speedster knows it.
“This is the best league in the world and there are always guys vying to take your spot, so you can’t take anything for granted,” Jooris said after putting his signature Friday on a one-year, one-way deal with the Flames.
“I have to continue to prove myself. Nothing is set in stone come September, especially in the organization we’re in. It’s ‘Always earned,’ so it’s a clean slate. I want to continue where I left off last year and just build off that.
“Complacency definitely can’t be in my vocabulary now. I need to keep improving.”
Jooris was scheduled for an arbitration hearing next week in Toronto, but that appointment was scrapped after his deal was finalized Friday. The one-year pact is believed to be worth US$975,000.
Jooris was a pleasant surprise for the Flames last season, making a name for himself with a superb showing during exhibition action, scoring in his NHL debut in Columbus in mid-October and racking up a dozen goals — including four game-winners — and 24 points in 60 games.
Back home in Burlington, Ont., there are plenty of reminders of what was a pinch-me season for the undrafted forward.
“As far as reflecting, my parents don’t make it easy for me to really get away — the place is loaded now with pucks and stuff like that,” Jooris said with a laugh. “It’s like a Wall of Fame, but it is cool to see that stuff. It’s obviously something that you dream about, and the fact that I was able to live through it and am going to be able to do it again, I’m just thrilled and really grateful …
“I couldn’t be more happy to be back with Calgary,” he added. “They’re the team that gave me the first opportunity, and I’m just really grateful to be back for one more year and to try to prove myself again and build off last year.”
The Flames also announced Friday that minor-leaguer Turner Elson has been re-signed to a one-year, two-way contract.
The 22-year-old left-winger — a former captain for the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels — notched 17 goals and 30 points in 59 contests last winter at AHL Adirondack and was among those summoned to skate with the black aces at the Saddledome during the Flames’ playoff run.
“Turner is one of those players that your teammates and your coaching staff love,” said Flames Assistant GM Brad Pascall. “He has some good scoring touch. He can play with an edge. He’s a good leader for a young guy. He’s good, solid on his feet. Good shot. Tireless work ethic. He can kill penalties and play in different situations.
“So he provides us with some good depth.”
Nope, there’s no item on the list.
Even though he’s nearly tripled his salary, Lance Bouma doesn’t have in his mind an I-gotta-have-it purchase to make.
“I haven’t thought about that,” the gritty Calgary Flames left winger said with a laugh Thursday. “It just happened a few hours ago. I’m just really excited about being in Calgary for the next three years.”
One day after going through an arbitration hearing, but before a decision was rendered, Bouma and the Flames agreed to a three-year contract with an average salary of US$2.2 million.
Bouma could have become an unrestricted free-agent after two seasons, so the club bought one year of UFA status on top of rewarding the 25-year-old for the 16-goal, 34-point campaign he compiled in 2014-15 while receiving a $775,000 salary.
Of course, that goal total will be a focus this coming season for the 2008 third-round draft choice. Bouma, who tripled his goal total from the previous campaign, finished fourth on the Flames in that category and is well aware the “do-it again” crowd is out there.
“Last year was a good year for me, but I feel I can still improve on it. That’s my mindset going in,” he said.
“Obviously, people are going to have questions whether I can do it again and I’m going to try and do my best to prove to them I can and can do it for a long time.”
As an organization, the Flames will do all they can to deflect pressure on Bouma to become a 20-goal man or the like, expecting him to concentrate on being a multi-dimensional forward and improve in all areas.
“We need more, not only out of Lance, but need more out of every player,” Assistant GM Brad Pascall said. “Our end goal is you want to win and in order to win, you need a committed group — which we believe we have — and need more from everybody. It’s not just Lance you need more out of. It’s everybody.”
In fact, what attracted the Flames to Bouma’s game wasn’t his offensive production, but the gritty game he plays. Bouma led Calgary’s forwards last season in short-handed icetime, hits and blocked shots — a category in which he was sixth last season among all forwards in the NHL.
Still, both sides needed the jolt of an arbitration hearing — at which the club made a case Bouma be awarded a $1.5-million salary and his side’s case was for it to be $2.5 million — to come to a deal that couldn’t be found prior.
For his part, Bouma was there with his agents and heard the arguments made from both sides, and said it didn’t create any dagger-from-the-eyes moments from him.
“There’s no hard feelings at all. It was no big deal,” Bouma said.
“You hear all the horror stories about it, but at the end of the day you’ve got to realize it’s part of the process and it’s business. They’re putting facts down because they’ve got to build a case and you’re putting facts down because you have to build a case, so you really can’t weigh much into it. You have to realize the team wants you and wants you a part of the group and take it for what it is.”
Curiously, the Flames have two other players who have filed for arbitration, forwards Josh Jooris and Paul Byron, with their hearings set for next week.