Nashville, Tenn. (September 19, 2017) - Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Tuesday that defenseman Roman Josi has been named the eighth captain in franchise history. Additionally, defenseman Ryan Ellis was announced as associate captain and Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg as assistant captains.
"This is the right time to name Roman the captain of our franchise," Poile said. "Not only is he one of our best players, but he's also become one of the top defensemen in the entire League. He's respected by his teammates, coaches and opponents and he represents our organization and logo with the utmost class and integrity on and off the ice. I know Roman is ready to become captain and I have no doubt he will fulfill these duties with the same passion we've become accustomed to seeing from him day after day."
Josi, 27 (6/1/90), was a full-time assistant captain last season on a Predators team that reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. Since being selected as Nashville's third choice, 38th overall (second round) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Josi has established himself as one of the League's premier defenseman and is one of five NHL blueliners to record at least 40 points in each of the last four seasons. The Bern, Switzerland, native tallied 49 points last season - his sixth with the Predators - including a career-high seven power-play goals, which tied for the team lead. During last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, Josi led team defensemen and was second among all Nashville skaters with 14 points in 22 games while his six goals set a franchise record for most goals by a defenseman in a single postseason. He also set the franchise record for points (14g-47a-61pts) in a single season by a defenseman in 2015-16. A profound member of the local community, Josi teams up with Best Buddies of Tennessee to serve as a friend and mentor to kids in the Nashville-area with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"I'm really excited and it's obviously a huge honor," Josi said. "I've had some really good guys to learn from with Shea Weber and Mike Fisher in the time I've been here. I know we have a great leadership group, a great group of guys, so I'm really excited. I was really happy when coach told me, but it's definitely something I never dreamed about when I was a little kid. You always dream about playing in the NHL, but being a captain of an NHL team, it's definitely something I never thought about. It's a huge honor and I'm just really excited to get going."
"Roman was drafted by the organization and has developed through Milwaukee and Nashville into an elite defenseman," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "He has grown not only as a player but as a leader over time. He has had some great mentors in the past and it is now his time to become the captain of the Nashville Predators. Roman has led by example every day of his life. He is respected by all of his teammates and his peers. His work ethic, communication skills and accountability to his team make him the perfect choice to lead this group moving forward."
Ellis, 26 (1/3/91), is entering his seventh season with the Predators and will serve as associate captain after being an asssistant captain in 2016-17. The 26-year-old set career highs in goals (16), power-play goals (4) and points (38) while also tying a career high in assists (22) in 71 games last season. The Hamilton, Ontario, native has seen his average time-on-ice increase each season since 2013-14, culminating with a career-high 23:57 per game last season, which ranked third on the team. Nashville's first choice, 11th overall (first round) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft also tied for third on the Predators in scoring in last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs with 13 points (5g-8a). Ellis founded Elly4Kids as a way to give back to his hometown community in Ontario and earned the Ontario Hockey League's 2011 Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy for leadership on and off the ice.
Ekholm, 27 (5/24/90), appeared in all 82 games for the second consecutive season in 2016-17, posting 23 points, which was fourth among team defensemen. The Borlange, Sweden, native also set career highs in shots (120), blocks (108) and average time-on-ice (23:28) during his sixth NHL campaign. During Nashville's run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, Ekholm totaled 11 points - fifth among defensemen in scoring - and appeared in all 22 of the team's playoff games. In 309 career games, the Predators' seventh choice, 102nd overall (fourth round) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft has 19 goals and 66 assists for 85 points.
Johansen, 25 (7/31/92), signed an eight-year, $64 million contract over this past offseason that will keep the center in Nashville through the 2024-25 season. Since being acquired by the Predators on Jan. 6, 2016, the Vancouver, B.C., native has posted 22 goals and 73 assists in 124 games and set a franchise record for most assists in a season by a center (47) last season. He appeared in all 82 games for Nashville in 2016-17, tying for the team lead in points with 61 and leading in multipoint games with 18. Before an injury ended his postseason early, Johansen tallied 13 points (3g-10a) in 14 games and scored the game-winning goal in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals against St. Louis to send the Preds to their first Western Conference Final.
Forsberg, 23 (8/13/94), became the first player in franchise history to score 30 goals in consecutive seasons after tallying 31 last season - including 28 from Dec. 19 to the end of the season - and 33 in 2015-16. After also becoming the first player in Predators history to record a hat trick in consecutive games (Feb. 21-23, 2017) and score 10 goals in a five-game span (Feb. 21-28, 2017), Forsberg was named the NHL's Second Star of the Month and First Star of the Week for the week ending Feb. 26. The Ostervala, Sweden, native led Nashville in scoring during the team's Stanley Cup Final run, posting nine goals and 16 points while setting a franchise record in all-time playoff goals (15) and goals in a single postseason. Prior to starting his NHL career, Forsberg captained Sweden in back-to-back World Junior Championships in 2013 and 2014.
"We put a lot of thought into the structure of this leadership group," Laviolette said. "We feel we have identified and put in place the people necessary to continue our quest to become Stanley Cup Champions."
Predators Captain History:
Tom Fitzgerald: 1998-02
Greg Johnson: 2002-06
Scott Walker: Jan. 12-27, 2003
Kimmo Timonen: 2006-07
Jason Arnott: 2007-10
Shea Weber: 2010-16
Mike Fisher: 2016-17
Roman Josi: 2017-present