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Josi contract priority for Predators, says GM

Defenseman signed through next season

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Roman Josi wants to stay with the Nashville Predators, and the feeling is mutual.

Predators general manager David Poile said he plans on starting discussions on a contract extension with the defenseman and captain July 1. Josi is signed through next season.

"I love it here," Josi said Wednesday, two days after the Predators were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference First Round. "I love the city. I love the team. It's the only team I've ever played for and I love everything about the city and the team, so I definitely want to be here."

Josi had 56 points (15 goals, 41 assists) and was named to the Central Division all-star team this season. He had two goals and two assists in the playoffs. 

"Yes, we'll be talking to Roman and his agent," Poile said. "July 1 is the date, and we'll be talking to him right then."

Video: NSH@DAL, Gm4: Josi puts Predators on the board

The Central Division-winning Predators were eliminated from the best-of-7 series with a 2-1 loss in overtime in Game 6 on Monday. The Predators lost in the first round for the first time since 2015.

"I still believe that we have a really good team and really good individual players," Poile said. "As I said in my remarks, there's some issues to be addressed and I believe there will be some changes."

Forwards Brian Boyle, Wayne Simmonds, Cody McLeod and Zac Rinaldo can become unrestricted free agents on July 1. 

"It was a phenomenal place to play and really enjoyed it," said Boyle, who was acquired in a trade with the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 6. "I think what we had as a group, we should've done more, which is disappointing. But it's still there. I'd love to be a part of that."

The power play was a top reason the Predators didn't advance, going 0-for-15 in the series. The Predators finished the regular season ranked last among the 31 NHL teams on the power play.

"Ultimately, it never got on track," coach Peter Laviolette said. "There's been a lot of talk of it. Probably everybody shares in some of that responsibility, the players and the coaches. Ultimately I'm the one who is responsible. I take the blame of things that don't go well on this team. I'm not running from it. Ultimately everything runs through me. There's not a meeting or a message that doesn't go on inside of this room that's not mine. So it's me and I've got to be better with what I'm doing because the messaging that I'm sending down through the ranks to the coaches, to the players, it didn't work. As we move forward, we try to learn from it."

The Predators have made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons but have not made a deep run since they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final; they lost in the second round last season to the Winnipeg Jets. They hope to rediscover that winning formula in the playoffs next season.

"I believe in these guys 100 percent," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever, but we kind of took a step back with just being in the playoffs this year. Last year we went to the second round. We've got to find a gear. We've got to find a way to be better in the playoffs. That's the bottom line."  

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