Undoubtedly, the strong start to the season for the Nashville Predators is a very pleasant surprise. Before the season began, analysts and fans tempered their expectations after several offseason moves by the front office left more questions than answers. However, after a better-than-expected start, Roman Josi seems to have the ship pointed in the right direction.
When Nashville’s roster moved from one of the oldest in the NHL to the sixth youngest, many wondered how the Predators would fare once the puck dropped on the regular season. Questions about Juuse Saros‘ ability to start more games than he ever had in his career, younger players getting more minutes, and the roles of Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen after being unprotected in the expansion draft led to less-than-stellar chatter about the upcoming season.
Now that they are sixteen games into the season, the Predators are quieting their detractors and are off to a very strong start. Duchene is on a tear, as is Johansen, and in his thirteen starts, Saros is putting up very strong numbers thus far.
And then there is the Captain who is having quite the season himself.
Strong numbers for the Nashville Predators
Through sixteen games, Josi is averaging a point a night, including a huge 4-point outing against the Arizona Coyotes. With his 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists), Josi is in a first-place tie with Duchene and Mikael Granlund for most points on the team, a big difference from this time last year.
We all remember the abysmal start that the Predators had last season. During that sluggish start, Josi put up 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) and finished the shortened season with 33 points (8 goals, 25 assists). Not exactly the production from Josi that we were used to but still good nonetheless.
The exciting news is that Josi’s numbers this season mirror those of the 2019-20 season, the year he was awarded the Norris Trophy. Through the first sixteen games of the 2019-20 season, Josi tallied 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists). So you can see why excitement is building as Josi is off to a hot start.
Strong numbers for the entire league
Josi continually proves why he is Nashville’s top player, but this season he is once again proving why he is one of the elite defensemen in the NHL.
The list of the top defensemen in the league this season reads like a “who’s who” with names like Victor Hedman and Miro Heiskanen. Josi sits at the top of the list, tied with the New York Ranger’s Adam Fox.
There is always lots of competition for the Norris Trophy, and it is usually a fight down to the wire for the chosen candidates. This season will be no different, so Josi will have to maintain these types of numbers throughout the entire 82-game season to keep himself in the running.
The Norris Trophy is presented to the defenseman who “demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” Josi is invaluable to the Predators and proves this night in and night out.
It’s early in the season
While Josi’s numbers are definitely promising, it is incredibly early in the season. If the Predators begin to struggle, he will have to put the team on his back and win as he did during the 2019-20 season.
The good news is that the Predators are playing well at the moment, with their top stars making big contributions. The bad news is that Nashville doesn’t have a deep roster. If they see more injuries like Filip Forsberg’s and can’t find creative ways to score goals, they could struggle as time goes on.
The Norris Trophy isn’t awarded solely on points. While points obviously matter, an individual’s overall impact on their team and how good they are at their position is also taken into consideration. There is no doubt about how much Josi impacts the Predators or how good he is at his position. If he can keep up this current trajectory that he is on, a second Norris Trophy could be in his future.