On Saturday, the Rangers waived and then said goodbye to Josh Jooris, a utility player that suffered a separated shoulder injury in October, and never quite matched the way he was playing before he was injured. And with a plethora of potential fourth liners available to the Rangers and the desire to make a roster move, the team waived him and Arizona (who has its own problems at the center position) claimed Jooris yesterday.
Jooris will likely try to make a place for himself there, but looking back on it, perhaps another choice should have been made by the Rangers at the time of Jooris’s signing. Signed, at least in part, to take the place of the departing fourth-line center, Dominic Moore, Jooris is eight years younger and makes $300,000 less than Moore does. The now 36-year old Moore was looking for a more money that the Rangers were willing (or, at the time, able) to pay, and eventually signed at the end of August with the Boston Bruins (for $900,000). However, the Blueshirts knew from the beginning, that Jooris had none of the faceoff win consistency that Moore did. Nor did he have Moore’s history of giving a strong effort on every shift.
And finally, Moore had years of history with New York, including being selected by the Rangers in the 3rd round of the 2000 NHL Draft. The Rangers kept in touch with Moore, even during the 2012-13 season, when the Toronto-area native took a year off to mourn his first wife’s death. So, it was a bit surprising that a compromise could not be made to bring Moore back to New York this season. To be fair, in choosing to sign Jooris, the Rangers were likely also eyeing his rookie NHL record, and hoping that a change of scenery would make him as offensively productive as he was in 2014-15. But, Jooris posted 24 points in 60 games that season while skating alongside forwards that were offensively gifted. That would not be the case for Jooris in New
So, there is no question that Moore would have been the better choice, but he wanted more money than the Rangers were willing (or, at the time of negotiations, able ) to spend. So, he eventually headed north and is now having a great year. Hindsight is 20/20, they say. But, like Brian Boyle before him, Moore is a line stabilizer, which the Rangers could have used on both their third and their fourth lines. When some of the more talented forwards come back from injuries, it may just be the fourth line that needs the stabilization, but Jooris was just not that kind of guy. Neither is Brandon Pirri, Jesper Fast, Nicklas Jensen, Marek Hrivik, Oscar Lindberg, nor Matt Puempel–the current fourth-line forward possible choices. Long term, it looks like the fourth line will be Pirri, Fast, plus one more player. It could be a player from the list above, or it could be Pavel Buchnevich temporarily. Either way, there is not room for all of the players in the fourth-line bubble.