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Josi named captain of Predators

27-year-old defenseman replaces Fisher, who retired after 17 NHL seasons

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- New Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi never thought he would be in this position.

But after six seasons with the Predators, and finishing in the top 15 in Norris Trophy voting as best defenseman in the NHL in each of the past three, the next chapter of Josi's career will be to try to lead Nashville to a second straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.

"It's a huge honor," said Josi, named the eighth captain in Predators history Tuesday. "As a kid, I think you dream about playing in the NHL one day. I would have never dreamed about being a captain one day. It's definitely a huge honor and I'm really excited going forward and serving as a captain."

Josi replaces center Mike Fisher, who retired Aug. 3 after 17 NHL seasons with the Predators and Ottawa Senators. He said he plans to reach out to Fisher for guidance on how to handle the role.

"I think it's important to stay [true to] yourself and keep doing the things you were doing before," Josi said. "I'll definitely talk to some people. Obviously [Fisher] was a great captain too, and it's definitely important to get some advice from him too. Just be open to talking to other great leaders, and we have a lot of other great leaders on our team already, so we'll definitely talk to each other."

When Josi broke into the NHL in 2011-12, Shea Weber was Predators captain. He played on a defense pair with Weber in his second season and kept that role until Weber was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman P.K. Subban on June 29, 2016.

Video: Roman Josi takes the No. 27 spot

Josi credits Weber for showing him what it takes to be a leader in the NHL.

"I think he's one of those guys who led by example," Josi said. "As soon as you came in, you could see he was the hardest-working guy. Every practice, he worked hard. Every game, he worked hard. That's something you want your captain to do. You want to have him lead the way and guys will follow. The young guys worked hard and the whole team worked hard because of his leadership. That's definitely something he was great at."

Josi is the second Swiss-born captain in NHL history. Defenseman Mark Streit was captain of the New York Islanders from 2011-13.

"Definitely a big honor too," Josi said. "He's such a role model for me. He was the first (Swiss) player who made it in the NHL, and the first captain too. We became really good friends and we work out together every summer, so there's a lot of things I learned from him and still learn from him. It's definitely a huge honor being named the second Swiss captain right after him."

Defenseman Ryan Ellis, the second choice for captain behind Josi, according to coach Peter Laviolette, was named associate captain, a title created by the Predators. Forwards Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg and defenseman Mattias Ekholm were announced as alternate captains.

Ellis, 26, had NHL career highs in goals (16) and points (38) in 2016-17, and had 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 22 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He is expected to be out of the lineup until approximately January while recovering from offseason knee surgery.

Johansen, 25, signed an eight-year, $64 million contract with the Predators on July 28. His 61 points (14 goals, 47 assists) were tied with forward Viktor Arvidsson for the Predators lead last season, his first full season in Nashville after being acquired in a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 6, 2016. Johansen had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 14 playoff games before requiring season-ending thigh surgery.

Video: P.K. Subban takes the No. 6 spot, Roman Josi No. 7

Forsberg, 23, is the first player in Predators history to score 30 goals in consecutive seasons. He led Nashville with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) during its run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Ekholm's 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) were fourth among Predators defensemen last season. The 27-year-old also set NHL career-highs in shots (120), blocked shots (108) and average time on ice (23:28), and his 11 playoff points (one goal, 10 assists) were fifth in the League among defensemen.

"It made no sense to leave any one of these guys off of that position," Laviolette said. "And so while it may not be exactly the way it is on a lot of teams, I really like the structure we have inside of our organization right now."

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