In the Nashville Predators 2015-16 Season, Roman Josi stepped out of Shea Weber’s shadow to become an elite NHL blueliner.
Outside of Nashville, you probably only knew a little about Roman Josi. The former second-round pick from Bern, Switzerland has formed into an elite NHL defenseman. From playing behind Ryan Suter and being in Shea Weber’s shadow, Josi has elevated his game to bring him onto the other teams scouting reports and being mentioned in the Norris contention.
Roman Josi’s ability to skate with the puck into the offensive zone has pushed him and his linemate, Shea Weber, in the argument of best d-pairing in the NHL. His skill set has dubbed him as the Erik Karlsson of the West. The future is bright and safe for Nashville Predators as they not only have him on their blueline, they also have him locked up through 2019-20. Guys with his kind of skill only come around so often. Let’s look at the numbers:
2014-15 regular-season stats: 81 games, 15 goals, 40 assists, plus+15 rating, 26 penalty minutes, 201 shots on goal
2015-16 regular-season stats: 81 games, 14 goals, 47 assists, minus-3 rating, 43 penalty minutes, 198 shots on goal
Now his numbers were great this past season until you look at the +/- and his penalty minutes. The thing to keep in mind is that Nashville was borderline awful in the middle of the season. Being on the top blue line will either help your +/- or drastically change it. Before the Ryan Johansen trade, Nashville was not in anyone’s top 10 list of best in the league. Once the Predators turned it around, his +/- started to work better for him.
You could make the argument that Roman Josi is the most valuable player on the Nashville Predators roster. He is a mixed bag of everything. He can shoot like a forward and bang against the boards as hard as anyone.
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He brings a level of commitment and determination to the locker room like no one else. Roman even played through the pain of a broken nose and finger during the playoffs. Not one injury but two. That drive pushed him to 10 points (1g,9a) in 14 games. We would all like to see Josi light the lamp more that just 15 or 14 times in a season. But, when you share the ice with Shea Weber (NHL’s hardest slap shot), Filip Forsberg, James Neal and others it would be an easy decision to pass.
Josi has also been Pekka Rinne’s best friend at times throughout the season and his career. From boxing out snipers to blocking almost guaranteed goals, Josi can be everywhere on the ice.
At his young age of 25, Josi has done a lot to prove himself as one of the best but could improve in some categories.
When Josi does not contribute in the game, it is full display the entire night. Sometimes is seems as he can get lost in the assignment or lost in the moment. Against San Jose in the playoffs, he even lost his awareness by jumping into the wrong bench to prevent too many men on the ice.
Roman Josi’s hockey IQ is high but at times, it seems as if he forgets what to do. Roman has forced Nashville into bad situations by biting on a fake or getting deked out by forwards multiple times last season. Bad luck has been in play on a few of the mistakes but to take the next step, he must be able to prevent all mistakes that lead to goals.
Josi’s heart, determination, effort and style of play is why I gave him the grade of an A-. Playing with the injuries that he showed to the locker room and the fan base that he would go through endless pain for the win. I know a finger and nose injury do not sound bad but when your face hits the glass or ice and your hand is constantly being smashed with sticks, you have to be physically and mentally tough.
If Josi can add more goals to his resume than in years past it will further his discussion into the Norris Trophy contention. He has already led the team in points throughout the season but the goals have all been outweighed by the assists.
Nashville Predators fans love Roman and it is time for the rest of the NHL to do the same.