The Swiss defenseman who can do no wrong. After a few years of carrying the rock as one of the league's most underrated players, Roman Josi has finally received his deserved high praise around the NHL. Compiling 14 goals and 61 points in the regular season was good for fourth among defensemen.
His underlying statistics aren't outstanding (50.3 CF% for the past season per corsica hockey), but he matched up against the opposition's best forward line each night out. That will drive most skaters' possession numbers down a bit. The real key to Josi's excellence is shown in his transition game from the defensive to offensive zone.
He knifes through the neutral zone and creates a scoring chance before most skaters have begun to move their legs. The offensive prowess is special, but that can sometimes overshadow what he accomplishes in his own zone. His stick is always in the correct position to block a shot or pass and create a turnover going the other way. The Predators having the 26-year-old signed at just $4 mil AAV until 2021 is highway robbery.
Best Moment of the Season?
There's only one option for this honor. The complete embarrassment of two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. While the Ottawa defenseman earns his superstar status on the offensive end, he did himself no favors to ditch the reputation of being an "OK" player in his defensive zone.
Watch the video when it zooms in on Karlsson as he shakes his head and realizes he just made SportsCenter for the wrong reason.
Worst Moment of the Season?
The entire Game 7 against San Jose. It didn't help that his partner Shea Weber played arguably his worst game as a professional, and the entire team forgot how to play hockey. However, the fact remains he was on the ice for all five goals against in the biggest game of the season.
Trending Up or Down?
Neither. Josi has likely hit his peak as a hockey player after finishing his fifth season with the big club. That peak is a very tall one, and it's reasonable to think he can stay at the top of the mountain for four, maybe five more seasons.
He did just turn 26-years-old in June, however.
FINAL GRADE: A-
Despite his Norris Trophy consideration season, he wasn't quite the same electric player in the playoffs. He still earned a respectable nine points in 14 contests, but Josi's game wasn't firing on all cylinders. When it later came out that he was fighting through a broken nose and finger, the slight dip in play was understandable.