Last summer, the Nashville Predators watched one of their top pairing defensemen walk in free agency, when Ryan Suter decided to head north for much more money than anyone in the Music City could have provided. This summer, they can take steps to make sure that doesn’t happen again anytime soon.
The Predators already boast one of the league’s best defensemen in Shea Weber. While it was a quiet year for him, that hasn’t changed. There’s no doubt that Suter leaving in free agency was a disappointment, but it opened up the door for the Preds to find a successor in Roman Josi.
Josi quietly had an excellent 2013 campaign for the Predators, something of a breakout year for him. He stands to earn a nice raise from that $1 million cap hit that is coming from his entry-level deal. In 48 games, he set a new career high for points, while establishing himself as a top pairing defenseman for this club.
Josi’s 18 points this season actually ranked third on the team during this shortened year, coming in second in point production among defensemen, trailing only Weber, who led the team. That point total included five goals and 13 helpers, the latter of which was tied for third most on the club.
Playing with Weber obviously means playing against the top competition. Most of the time, particularly in the second half of the season, was spent on that top pairing. Josi performed there to terrific results, finishing the season next with a Corsi rating of +94 next to Weber.
There isn’t any question that the Predators are going to bring back Roman Josi this summer. It’s just a matter of what type of deal he gets. Will he get the shorter term two-year deal, like someone such as Michael Del Zotto received? Or will he receive a longer term contract like the six years Oliver Ekman-Larsson got?
Obviously, playing styles aren’t entirely comparable. But the Predators should definitely look at going to the longer end of the projections with the term on a Josi deal. It will lock up a very good up-and-coming defenseman, while helping to quell any fears that might exist over him leaving when this second deal expires.