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Breaking: Predators Defenseman Roman Josi Wins NHL’s 2019-20 James Norris Memorial Trophy

After a stellar season that saw his offense and defensive skills at career levels, the Swiss captain was awarded his first Norris Trophy Monday night

The Nashville Predators captain, defender Roman Josi, was the recipient of the 2019-20 NHL James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position”. Former player Paul Coffey awarded the trophy at tonight’s ceremony to Josi, the first Nashville Predator player to win the award with the team (former Predator P.K. Subban won the award for the 2012-13 season as a member of he Montreal Canadiens).

Roman Josi signed an eight year, $72.5 million contract extension last offseason ($9.059 million average annual value) and tonight’s award should show General Manager David Poile that his investment was sound.

2019-20 Norris Trophy Finalists - Voting and Statistics

Player Team Norris Votes (1st Place Votes) Games Played Goals (All) Points (All) Goals For % (5 on 5) Expected Goals For % (5 on 5) Goals Above Expected Total GAR Even Strength Offense GAR Even Strength Defense GAR Power Play Offense GAR Shorthanded Defense
Player Team Norris Votes (1st Place Votes) Games Played Goals (All) Points (All) Goals For % (5 on 5) Expected Goals For % (5 on 5) Goals Above Expected Total GAR Even Strength Offense GAR Even Strength Defense GAR Power Play Offense GAR Shorthanded Defense
Roman Josi NSH 1499 (109) 69 16 65 61.9% 52.8% 17.9 10.2 3.5 2.1 0.3
John Carlson WSH 1267 (56) 69 15 78 52.0% 48.5% 7.6 9.4 -3.4 1.5 -0.9
Victor Hedman TBL 820 (4) 66 11 55 63.4% 55.5% 18.1 10.4 1.7 2.7 2
2019-20 Norris Trophy Finalists Votes and Season Statistics Votes via NHL, Data via Evolving-Hockey.com

Roman Josi beat fellow finalists John Carlson of the Washington Capitals and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The debate comparing Josi and Carlson since the conclusion of the regular season has been feverish. However, while Carlson scored 10 more points on the season than Josi, the Predators captain’s defensive improvements likely sealed the deal:

Roman Josi - 2019-20 Isolated Impact
Data and Visualization - HockeyViz.com
John Carlson - 2019-20 Isolated Impact
Data and Visualization - HockeyViz.com

According to HockeyViz.com, Josi’s isolated impact on offense was 11% greater than league average, compared to Carlson’s 2%. Roman Josi’s defensive impact suppressed opposing offenses by 2%—John Carlson, on the other hand, saw opposing offenses improve by 8% when he was on the ice this season. Given that the award is given to the player with the most “all-around ability at the position”, Josi’s defensive ability was able to overcome a mere 10-point scoring difference. Evolving-Hockey.com also shows the defensive differences between the two (Expected Goals Against per 60—xGA/60—is the primary driver of defensive evaluation in their Goals Above Replacement metric):

Roman Josi and John Carlson Comparison - Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM)
Evolving-Hockey.com

Roman Josi is just the second Nashville Predator to win a major NHL award while playing for the team, joining Pekka Rinne who won the Vezina Trophy for the 2017-18 season. In our own end of season awards voting, the On The Forecheck staff also awarded Josi the Norris Trophy, where he finished ahead of Carlson and Hedman. You can re-visit our votes and breakdown here.

Previous winners of the James Norris Memorial Trophy in the last decade include: