1. Roman Josi (2011-Current)
Team captain, Norris Trophy Winner, all-around excellent human being, Roman Josi checks all of the boxes when looking at elite defensemen in the NHL.
Josi made his NHL debut in November 2011 at age 21 against the Detroit Red Wings. He came aboard with the Predators around the same time that Ekholm and Ellis did.
Originally drafted by Nashville, Josi was the 38th pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 52 games in his first season, and his ice time quickly grew as that season progressed. We knew instantly what special talent he was.
Josi’s statistics have improved almost every year during his nine seasons with Nashville. Last season, his best yet, saw him score 65 points (16goals, 49 assists) in only 69 games. He also had 108 blocked shots, 52 hits, and a Corsi-for of 52.6.
If the full 82 games were played, perhaps Josi comes very close to Paul Kariya’s franchise record for points in a season with 85 in 2005-06.
Josi’s numbers and his ability to keep the Predators competitive last season contributed to his Norris Trophy win in 2020. Throughout his career, Josi has received votes for the Norris Trophy six times, including this year’s win.
Named as an alternate captain in 2016, Josi became the team captain before the 2017-18 season. He leads by example and can put the team on his back and push them to victory if necessary.
Josi’s other accolades include three All-Star game appearances and being named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2020.
Josi’s game continues to improve, and at 30-years-old, he has many more years ahead of him. Assuming he plays out his contract extension for the Predators, he’s going to hang with Filip Forsberg to eventually become the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer.
With the Predators signing him into an eight-year contract extension in 2019, Josi will likely retire from Nashville as the best defenseman, and maybe player, that the team has ever had.