Nashville Predators: Where Does Roman Josi Fit into Hart Trophy Conversation?

More so than in recent years, the 2024 Hart Trophy race is much closer and up for debate.
Jan 23, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates with the
Jan 23, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) skates with the / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The race for the Hart Trophy has been fun to watch this year with superstars Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov and Nathan Mackinnon being your normal frontrunners for the league's most valuable player.

However, Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators is getting some attention as a possible late entry candidate with the insane level he's been playing at since his club went on an 18-game point streak in their quest for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A defenseman hasn't won the Hart Trophy since Chris Pronger in 1999-2020, and he is the only defenseman to win the award since Bobby Orr back in the early 1970's. So yeah, defensemen just don't get much love for the Hart Trophy.

You're probably already thinking this is a dumb conversation to even have because Josi isn't even the leading scorer on his own team. That's Filip Forsberg with 87 points, and Josi with 77 points. But is the Hart Trophy just about who scores the most points? It shouldn't be, even though obviously that is the most important metric people first go to.

A Closer Hart Trophy Race than We're Used to Seeing

This is nothing new to diehard Predators fans. They've known for years now how vital Josi is to the Predators' success. Fortunately we haven't had to see Josi miss too many games over the years due to injury, but it's pretty fair to say that if he wasn't on this team playing basically the quarterback, they wouldn't be a playoff caliber team.

Josi actually has gotten Hart Trophy votes in the past. During his 96-point campaign in 2021-22, Josi finished sixth in the Hart Trophy voting and even received five first-place votes. In 2020 when Josi won the Norris Trophy, he finished seventh in the Hart Trophy voting, but with zero first place votes.

This year is a stark contrast from last year's MVP race with McDavid lapping the field easily with 153 points and 195 first place votes, and only one other first place vote going to David Pastrnak.

The year before in 2022, Auston Matthews took home the MVP hardware despite not leading the NHL in points. McDavid was the leader with 123 points and 17 more than Matthews, showing that it's not just a race to who scores the most points.

Looking at the current Hart Trophy race, the voters will have a difficult choice to make between Kucherov, MacKinnon and McDavid. All three you can make strong cases for, but if it's really about most valuable to their team, how do you not go with Kucherov? The point gap between him the next closest Tampa Bay Lightning player is 48 points, that next player being Brayden Point.


Surrounding talent should be a highly-considered factor into who is the most valuable, and not just "the best in the world", which undoubtedly in McDavid. You should just give it to McDavid every year until he retires if that's the only criteria.

What hurts Kucherov is he isn't what you would call the most well-rounded. He's so offensive heavy and power play heavy, but his defensive game is usually lacking.

Let's shift to Mackinnon, who is only three points behind Kucherov, has a significantly higher plus/minus and actually plays a better two-way game. Mackinnon has a better support cast, however. So there's that.

McDavid has games in hand over Mackinnon and Kucherov to close the point gap, and he aleady has the popularity and preconceived fact that he's the best player in the world. It's hard to overcome that with subjective voters. He also has the most well-rounded game of the three, so it won't be shocking at all if he claims his fourth Hart Trophy this year.

Just based on the insane gap Kucherov has over his next teammate, I would slightly lean towards him to win the award. If you took all three of these players off their respective teams, there's no doubt in my mind that the Lightning would be hurt the most by losing Kucherov. The others would hurt bad as well, but they have good enough supporting casts to maybe overcome and at least be playoff teams.

But choosing Mackinnon or McDavid would be understandable as well. It should make for one of the closest votes we've had in a while. Also, we shouldn't forget about some others that are close, including David Pastrnak and Artemi Panarin.

Josi is a MVP Caliber Player Captain Who Deserves More Recognition, but He's Probably Not Even Top-10 in the Voting

Roman Josi
Nashville Predators v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

This takes me back to Josi. Of course he's not going to win the Hart Trophy or even come close to being a finalist over the three we just talked about, and there's others that will also get more attention at his own position with Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar.

You probably thought this was going to be a biased editorial saying that Josi deserves all of this Hart Trophy love, and while he is underrated around the NHL as one of the more valuable players to their team, he's not sniffing a Hart Trophy with so much ridiculous talent at the top right now.

In the last six regular season games if Josi piles up a few more goals to hold onto his current lead among defensemen in that category, then I can see him getting some votes just because he's so well-respected and there's probably some voters out there who highly value defensemen that are also captains. Plus the Predators being so far ahead of schedule has turned into a top storyline for the league over the past month.

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Let's also not forget that Forsberg might get some Hart Trophy votes as well being 12th in points, 8th in goals and fifth in shots on goal. He just tied the Predators single season record for goals with 43, tying Matt Duchene's record from 2021-22.

Josi should almost certainly be a Norris Trophy finalist with Makar and Hughes. He has a chance to win his second Norris Trophy if he keeps this hot streak buzzing in the last six games. It will be hard to overtake Makar or Hughes, however.

The Predators have never had a Hart Trophy finalist. Pekka Rinne received votes three separate years, finishing fourth in 2010-11. No other Predators player has ever finished even top-10 in the voting aside from Josi and Rinne.