Roman Josi is congratulated after netting his first against the Stars. (AP-Mark Humphrey)
The 2011-12 season for Roman Josi was very promising. While plenty of fans were expecting plenty more from Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis as their development progressed, Josi was a second round pick that had trouble staying healthy in his time in Milwaukee. He was brought up to take the spot of an underperforming Jon Blum, and paired with Kevin Klein… and never looked back. Josi and Klein became a solid second pairing behind Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, and looked to repeat their feats for an encore in 2012-13.
While Suter had other plans, Josi was promoted to the top pairing with the all-world Weber. No pressure, of course… just asking the kid to replace Ryan Suter’s half of the best pairing in the league. This was the task given to Josi.
From one year to the next:
Josi turned in a very respectable five goals, 16 points, and a +1 from 2011-12 being on the second pairing with Klein. Keep in mind, Klein was struggling mightily along side Blum and had to find the positive and negative end of the battery with Josi. That was a pairing that got better as the year progressed.
This past season, Roman turned in five goals, 18 points, and a -7 on a bad team with a goaltender battling an injury. While he started the year off with Weber, Trotz broke up that pairing at first (Remember Scott Hannan with Weber? It happened) before settling Josi back with the captain at the end of the year.
Stuff Beyond the Stats
Weber and Suter worked well together due to Suter’s defensive game, and Weber’s offensive force. Weber could do Suter’s job, but Suter wasn’t quite Weber on offense. Suter’s game allowed Weber to float around more, join rushes, and be the “Hammer of Thor” on the power play. Josi will get better in those areas, but he will likely not be the stable stay-at-home defender that Suter was.
Should the Predators add a top-four defenseman this summer, he’ll likely be back on the second pair where he can shine. It’s not that he’s not superb or going to be superb, but his game on the offensive end needs a stay-at-home defender to compliment it. Weber could do that, but they’re better apart. Pairing him back with Klein or with a another stay-at-home defender that would allow him to flex his offensive game into something special.
That said, this year was far from a disappointment for the young Swiss starlet. On a team that was snake bitten by injuries the entire year, he stayed healthy. There have been very few times he’s looked like a kid since he’s came up (last year vs. Dallas, Datsyuk’s goal in the playoffs, and a couple times this year) to Nashville. He’s more than made up for it.
The Best of Roman
It has to be the Dallas game.
Two goals, two assists, and lots of adoration from everyone involved. Poor Jagr.
As was mentioned above, his role next year might not be known until camp starts. He could grow to fit the role of Diet Suter, but that’s not likely where he would be at his best. Also, he’s about to get paid like a consistent member of this team’s young core. Hopefully for Nashville, David Poile and the gang will be pro-active and sign him to a deal that keeps him in gold for a while.
Roman Josi has surpassed expectations up to this point. He turned in a good season with no training camp, a new partner, and a new role. He increased his output per game, and wasn’t the reason why this season was a disaster.
It’s hard to give anyone an “A” on a team that didn’t do so well, but given what the lines the Predators were working with in the late season we’ll show him some mercy. He doesn’t take stupid penalties, he plays more than his share of time on ice, and didn’t embarrass himself. If we’re grading him on results, he deserves a solid B. If we’re going by the situation, he gets an A. We’ll meet in the middle and give this kid a B+.