Nashville Predators: Roman Josi Will Push for Norris Trophy This Season

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

As one of the most successful players in Nashville Predators history, Roman Josi enters this season in search of his first Norris Trophy.

Aside from Pekka Rinne, Josi is the most recognizable player on the Nashville Predators. Watching him skate up the ice so gracefully while putting pressure on the opposition is a glorious thing to watch. Heading into 2019-20, Josi could be in store for his biggest season yet.

Josi has held the captain title since Mike Fisher’s retirement two seasons ago, and he’s carried it admirably. He’s a great leader both on and off the ice. He keeps his cool and plays that quiet assassin role. He’s active in the community and represents Nashville greatly on the national stage. There’s been countless times when the Predators are sleepwalking through a game, and he provides the jolt of energy to wake everyone up.

It’s hard to fathom that Josi has yet to win a Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman. He’s finished in the top-five in voting twice, most recently finishing seventh. It’s a matter of when, not if, he wins a Norris Trophy. It would be no shock if he pulls it off this season, or comes closer than he ever has. We’re still waiting on that new contract extension as well, so this figures to be an intriguing year for the Nashville Predators captain.

How he stacks up against NHL’s best

Today’s NHL defensemen are no longer just out there to stop forwards from getting scoring chances. Many of these guys are offensive powerhouses, and Josi fits into that mold. He creates scoring chances and high-quality shots on a regular basis, and many times in solo fashion. His Corsi for is always above 50, and he puts enormous pressure on opposing forwards to provide resistance. What slightly holds him back is he’s not as physically imposing as some of the other top defenseman, and he also takes a lot of risks that can surrender counter strikes.

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So who do we know is for sure ahead of Josi right now?  There’s really only one player I’m 100 percent certain you can say that for, and that’s Brent Burns of San Jose, last year’s runner-up in the Norris Trophy voting. Burns really broke out last season in terms of tallying assists and piling up the points with 83. He’s a massive force at 6’5″ and is my pick for best defenseman in the NHL at this moment.

After Burns you can jumble up a bunch of players and argue which one is better than the rest. You can make solid arguments for any of them, including Josi. I put him in the class of John Carlson, Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman and several others. The difference is I think Josi’s offensive game is going to keep growing. It’s starting to boil over and only a matter of time until he surges into the 70 to 80 point range. I’m not convinced that he’s peaked yet, and this season could be when we see him really break out.

If Josi can crack 70 points, a feat he’s never accomplished, he’s going to get many more votes than in the past for the Norris Trophy. His offensive numbers have never been gaudy enough to put him higher than fifth in the voting. That changes this season. I’m also interested to see who pairs up with Josi on defense, but my initial thought is Ryan Ellis, another gifted offensive defenseman.

Predicting Josi’s upcoming season

Josi has remained a steady and consistent performer for the Predators since 2013-14. He has filled the shoes of Shea Weber perfectly. Now the question remains if we’ve seen the best he has to offer. Has he hit his ceiling yet? He just turned 29, so let’s hope that he’s entering the peak of his NHL career right now.

The Predators have some question marks surrounding their defense. P.K. Subban has departed to New Jersey, and Ellis has faced criticism for losing a step or two defensively. We also have the young Dante Fabbro taking on a bigger role with the team. Josi has to continue carrying on that role of not just being the captain, but being the best player on the ice.

Check out Josi’s latest interview where he talked contract negotiations, new pieces on the team and the departure of Subban, courtesy of Greg Hardwig of the Naples Daily News:

We’re in store for a season where we see Josi’s offensive numbers really explode. The Predators power play has nowhere to go but up, and he’ll be a big part of that. He had just 12 power play points last season, but you can bet with confidence that this total will increase to the 20-plus range like he’s done in previous seasons. The line combinations aren’t going to be in as much disarray as last season, so more chemistry will mean better scoring chances for highly-skilled players like Josi.

Next. Looking at the Season Ahead for Ryan Johansen. dark

We finally saw Rinne win a Vezina Trophy in 2018, a feat that figured to eventually happen. Now it’s Josi’s perfect time to claim the Norris Trophy in 2020. We’re still waiting on a new contract to surface, but for now let’s buckle up for what I believe is going to be an offensive explosion that could bring the franchise’s first Norris Trophy winner.