Josi NSH

Hours after a Game 5 win in Vancouver and with hours to spare before the team plane would depart for the Music City, Nashville Predators Captain Roman Josi got a call from his wife, Ellie.

“I woke up in Vancouver and she called and was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’” Josi recalled. “I was like, ‘What?’”

So Ellie broke the news.

For the third time in his career, Josi had been named a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League’s top ‘defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.’

Though the recognition heralding Josi once again as one of the League’s three best blueliners inspired a sense of pride, Nashville’s captain couldn’t help but point to his teammates when asked for his thoughts on the nomination.

“It's obviously a huge honor and it means a lot, but at the same time [it was] such a fun year with this team, just the way we came together… The connection we built over this year,” Josi said. “Those individual awards are definitely a huge honor, but I think there's a lot more to this year that was a lot more meaningful.”

Josi Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Indeed, starting their season at 5-10-0, then climbing out of a four-point deficit in early February via an electrifying, franchise record 18-game point streak, the Predators defied expectations and had themselves a season to remember.

Josi’s Norris recognition, he insisted, was therefore as emblematic of his team’s efforts as his own.

“Hockey is the ultimate team sport,” he said. “You need a team to play well to play well yourself… And it's been a team effort. I think especially for this team, it’s been a team effort the whole year. If you look at our streak, the way we came out of not being in a playoff spot to coming together - everybody had their part in being successful.”

There’s no arguing with the captain there.

Still, Josi’s teammates weren’t going to let him go without his share of the credit either.

“It’s a no brainer,” defenseman Alexandre Carrier said. “It’s the way he carries himself, and obviously, the talent he's got, but the work ethic, the way he takes care of his body too… And the way he's been producing the last few years, is just unbelievable. I'm really, I'm really lucky to have been with him for the last few years and to learn from him.”

“You appreciate it more and more, [I’m] now in my second year with him,” defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “The guy just plays the game so well. He’s so competitive, he just anticipates the play so well. And the big thing with him is he steps up in big moments and he’s so consistent. He was so counted on for offense and defense, playing a ton of minutes and put the team on his shoulders this year when we needed him to in the middle of the season. He played some unbelievable hockey.”

This year was not without its share of challenges for the Predators captain.

One of just four core franchise players remaining after a cleaning of house at last year’s trade deadline and the following offseason, Josi entered the 2023-24 campaign with a number of new faces in the locker room and a challenging, unfamiliar system to learn on the ice under Head Coach Andrew Brunette.

The system and the captain, admittedly, did not click right away.

“He had to adjust to the way we were playing,” Predators General Manager Barry Trotz said. “He got off to a little bit of a slow start, because he was used to grabbing the puck and going from goal line to goal line every time he was out there, and the way we play now we don't necessarily do that. And that was a little foreign to him.”

“Every year it's a little bit different,” Josi said. “Even this year I had to adjust my game maybe a little bit, adjust to a new system and find different ways to to create offense. Even in the past there've been years where maybe I wasn't as happy with my year. But I think you always learn something, and you might not do something as great as the year before, but you try to find something else that you can do better.”

Turning 34 years old in June and with his name already etched onto the Norris Trophy once, no one would fault Josi for sticking to the status quo.

That’s just not the way he sees things.

“Obviously I'm getting older, definitely in the second half of my career, but I'm just a very curious person,” Josi said. “I'm always trying to find things, and even other players to watch, to see what other players do and in every aspect. The mental aspect, the game itself, the skills on and off ice, all that stuff. I just always try to improve.”


NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 10: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators smiles as he prepares of for an NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena on February 10, 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

That commitment to growth drove the veteran of 909 career games to another League-topping season, and no doubt factored heavily in his final Norris Trophy position alongside two defensemen both nearly 10 years his junior.

Josi finished the 2023-24 campaign leading all NHL defensemen in goals (23), power-play goals (9), shots on goal (268) and shot attempts (602), second in even-strength points (51), tied for second in game-winning goals (5), third in points (85) and points per game played (1.04), tied for fourth in power-play points (33) and fifth in assists (62).

From the start of the franchise-record 18-game point streak on Feb. 17 to the end of Nashville’s campaign on April 15, Josi recorded 36 points (12g-24a), the second-most among his teammates and the most among NHL blueliners.

Within that span, Josi also ranked first among all League defensemen in goals, points per game (1.29) and shots (97), tied for first in power-play points (13), second in even-strength points (23), third in assists and tied for sixth in plus-minus (+15).

“When we went through that stretch that got us into the playoffs, I don't think there was a defenseman on the planet Earth that was better than him,” Trotz said. “And that's saying a lot, because you saw [Quinn] Hughes and [Cale] Makar and people like that, and for a long stretch he was the best player. He was fantastic.”

The winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and will be announced at the 2024 NHL Awards on June 27 at Fontainebleau Las Vegas, with the ceremony set to broadcast on ESPN at 6 p.m. CT.

Regardless of what happens, No. 59 is simply looking forward to another run with his team once October rolls around.

“I think we definitely set a culture,” Josi said. “There's always results, obviously. Sometimes you’re going to win, sometimes you’re going to lose, but I think the way we played and the way we approached the game - that's kind of the standard. That's the culture we want to set. The Preds have always been a hard-working team, so we want to be a hard working team that goes out there and makes life hard on the other teams. And I feel like we set that culture as a team, and hopefully it's just the beginning. I'm excited for next year and we’ve got to build off this year and get even better next year.”

Related Content