Josi Needs Longer Transition Period Than Initially Thought
Patience is a virtue, and Roman Josi is not immuned to growing pains after significant change.
Not many people gave it much discussion when the trade occurred. In fact, most hockey minds predicted the swap of Shea Weber and P.K. Subban would instantly help Roman Josi become an even better player. Instead of Weber holding him back at times due to a lack of speed, Subban would complement the Swiss defender by having a similar electric playing style.
Perhaps the proper wording should be "can become" rather than "now is" in that scenario, but we all make mistakes sometimes. It hasn't been a seamless transition through the first stretch of games and looking back it probably shouldn't have been.
Most assumed Josi could adapt to any situation given his immense talent. However, let's remember he played almost every one of his 334 career games alongside Weber. He was accustomed to every move Weber made on the ice. Pinching in the offensive zone, going through the neutral zone, and chipping it along the boards were second nature alongside Weber.
Like anything in life, you settle into a comfort zone with someone after an extended period of time, and change takes time.
Statistically, Josi is cruising along with six points in ten games, but you'd be hard pressed find someone who thinks he is playing at his best. While the team as a whole is struggling in the possession metric, Josi isn't helping with a 44.7 CF% to start the season according to Corsica Hockey.
After a short spell on the left side of Subban, Josi is now next to Ryan Ellis. While the gelling of the top four is getting better, it's not close to where it needs to be given the amount of skill between them.
This doesn't mean the Predators made a mistake in trading Shea to Montreal. In order to reach new heights for an organization, change is inevitable and growing pains are always part of it.
While they aren't playing together as it stands now, there is likely still a future for a Josi-Subban pairing down the road. The shaky start between them has less to do with their playing styles and more with a lack of familiarity.
Josi knew the strengths of Weber like the back of his hand, but more importantly he knew his weaknesses just as well. With Ellis or Subban, he appears to be questioning himself in the defensive zone with a lack of confidence in how exactly his new partner is going to defend the opposition.
That's why the NHL season is 82 games long. The top four need time to build chemistry after the shakeup, and they'll get that opportunity with over 70 games left to play.
We live in an overreaction sports world. With Weber and the Canadiens off to a great start while Predators have been trying to find their groove, it's easy to claim the trade was a questionable decision. Maybe Weber was the perfect partner for Josi, and now he'll never be the same.
Or maybe not. Perhaps it takes a little time to feel comfortable after five years of playing over 25 minutes a night with one guy. Josi will be better, and last night in Arizona was a step forward for him. But it's just taking a little longer than everyone wanted to admit.