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Roman Josi: A defenseman on the rise

Photo credit: Ryan B. Miller
Photo credit: Ryan B. Miller

When talking to Admirals defenseman Roman Josi, you get the sense that the game really isn't that complicated for him.

"I just try to play really good defense -- that's the first thing as a defenseman.  And then try to make something happen in the offense, and rush the puck and then join the rush."

That may seem to over-simplify it a bit, but when you are as naturally detail-oriented as Josi is, it may just be as simple as that in his head.

After missing the first seven games of the season recovering from a training camp injury, Josi has been a consistent presence on the Milwaukee blueline, and his stock has done nothing but rise.

More on Josi, after the jump...

As with many European players that are playing their first season in North America, part of what he has had to work on is the adjustment to the North American game.  And while it seems to take some players longer, Josi appeared to be comfortable pretty quickly.

"I think (the adjustment) wasn't bad," Josi says. "The first couple of games were tough.  I was hurt a long time and had to adjust to the game.  I think the first 15 games I could have played better, but now I think it's getting better and better."

Coach Lane Lambert has been very impressed with Josi so far this season.

"His adjustment to the North American game has been pretty much seamless.  He didn't really have much of a learning curve.  He's an extremely cerebral player -- he's got an extremely high hockey IQ.  And he has an ability to make the right play at the right time, whether it be with his passing skills or his legs, because he can skate pucks out of trouble too."

Josi has seen ice time in all situations....power play, penalty kill, crunch time, and has played at a level where he is an asset in all situations.  Josi isn't out of place in the corners of the defensive zone, winning battles against skilled forwards.  And he's not out of place bringing the puck into the offensive zone, taking charge of an offensive rush.  His ability to do so helps lead to odd-man rushes and extra scoring chances.  This skill in transition really stands out as one of his greatest assets.

While I'm surprised that he hasn't scored more than he has (just 1 goal with 13 assists in 33 games), I think it is just a matter of time before you'll see his name in the scoring column of the box scores on a regular basis.

Josi can get physical, but is by no means reckless.  He wins battles, but has only been assessed four penalties all year, and two of them were in his first game.  He has not been prone to the careless stick infractions that drive coaches crazy.

Coach says there's still some things to work on, but that he's probably not long for this league.

"In the near future, we just got to keep working with him.  There are little areas in his game, little detailed things that we can improve.  But he's well on his way to where he wants to be."

Josi may make some mistakes out there, but they aren't obvious to the untrained eye.  Simply put -- he doesn't get beat very often.

While likes to peg Jonathon Blum as the #1 prospect of the Nashville organization, I think Josi will be the one to have the longer and more productive NHL career.  That's not meant to be a knock on Blum, as much as it is an endorsement of Josi.