By Jonathan Rawson
On Monday, Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced that the organization has signed defenseman Roman Josi to a seven-year, $28 million contract. Since being selected by the Predators 38th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Josi has shown marked improvement in his ever increasing role.
Poile raved about the young defenseman, “Last year, we saw the growth in Roman almost like no other player we have had. Probably the best comparison I can come up with is Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The irony of that, of course, is that Roman fit in very nicely into Ryan’s position last year.”
In search of a replacement for departed All-Star blueliner Ryan Suter, the Predators turned to the young Swiss product. He gelled seamlessly with defensive partner Shea Weber, registering 18 points (5g-13a) while appearing in all 48 of Nashville’s games during the truncated 2013 season.
“It’s a natural situation with how well they (Josi and Weber) played together last year,” Poile said, “Both of them are guys who can take huge minutes… I think it presents lots of options. With Josi and Weber on the blue line, you have two top players.”
Building off the 2013 NHL season, Josi had a fantastic showing at last month’s IIHF World Championships. He was voted Tournament MVP, Best Defenseman, and a member of the tournament All-Star Team. He recorded nine points (4g-5a) in 10 tournament games and led Switzerland to a silver medal, the nation’s first medal at the Championships in 60 years.
At just 23, Josi has posted 34 points (10g-24a) while suiting up in only 100 NHL games. Signing a young player like Josi to a long-term deal seems risky to some. However, both Josi and Poile are confident in both the direction of the franchise and Josi’s career.
“Just turning 23 last week, the potential is certainly there for Roman to be one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League,” Poile asserted, “Obviously, signing him to seven years ensures that we will have our top defensive pairing intact for a number of years.”
“Nashville is a great organization and they do everything to win,” Josi said, “We had a bad season last year, but I think the year before we had a pretty good season. I think we are close to making it really far. I know Nashville is going to do everything to get back on that track and that is why I signed a long term deal.”
Josi’s deal is worth $28 million over seven years. Josi will make $2.5 million in 2013-14, $3 million in 2014-15, $4 million in 2015-16, $4.25 million in 2016-17, $5 million in 2017-18, $5.25 million in 2018-19 and $4 million in 2019-20.
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