Not only is defenseman Roman Josi one of the few Swiss-born players to skate in the NHL he’s also the first native from Switzerland to wear a C on his sweater. Josi played junior hockey in his homeland and also kicked off his pro career there with SC Bern after being drafted 38th overall in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators. Josi cracked the senior Bern lineup in 2007/08 after scoring 14 goals and 30 points in 38 games with the junior squad.
He helped Bern win the National League A championship back in 2009/10 and finished his senior career with 20 goals and 36 assists in 109 games with six goals and seven helpers in 27 playoff contests. Josi made the trek to Nashville in 2010/11 and spent his first season in North America with the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals. He posted six goals and 40 assists in 69 games in his first year with Milwaukee and added a goal and six helpers in 13 playoff encounters.
Josi played five more games in the AHL in 2011/12 and contributed a goal and three assists. He spent the rest of the season with the Predators in Music City and finished his rookie NHL campaign with five goals and 11 assists in 52 games, but went pointless in 10 postseason matches. Josi returned to Switzerland at the start of 2012/13 due to the NHL lockout and scored six goals and 11 assists in 26 games with Bern. He then added five goals and 13 assists for Nashville in the shortened 48-game NHL schedule.
Josi’s offensive game picked up in 2013/14 with 13 goals and 40 points in 72 games, but Nashville missed the playoffs for the second straight year. He tallied 15 goals and 55 points the next season and a goal in six playoff games and followed up in 2015/16 with 14 goals and 61 points while adding a goal and nine points in 14 postseason contests. He continued his fine play in 2016/17 with 12 goals and 29 points in 72 games and scored six goals and 14 points in 22 playoff games as the Predators fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.
In 2017/18 Josi notched 14 goals and 53 points and added four assists in 13 playoff games. He entered the 2018/19 season with 78 goals and 292 points in 481 regular-season outings with eight goals and 28 points in 65 playoff games. Josi finished fifth in rearguard scoring in 2014/15 and was top five in voting for the Norris Trophy as the league’s best blue liner. He finished top-five in voting again in 2015/16 and was also selected for the NHL All-Star Game.
Josi has appeared in several international events with Switzerland and won solver medals at the 2013 and 2018 World Championships. He represented his nation at the 2010 Olympics and also took part in the IIHF World Under 18 and Under-20 Championships in the past. Josi was named the MVP, best defenseman and an All-Star at the World Championships in 2013 in Sweden and played for Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, capturing a silver medal.
Josi stands 6-feet-1-inch tall and weighs 200 lbs. He’s offensively gifted, but doesn’t neglect his defensive duties. He’s great at moving the puck, can handle tons of ice time, doesn’t panic and is an outstanding skater. Josi has a terrific shot and his only downside so far in his NHL career has been suffering a few minor injuries.
Assertiveness: There may not be a defenseman who pushes for offense as frequently as Josi. He’s constantly looking for a chance to jump up, flying through open ice, challenging defenders one-on-one or creeping lower into the offensive zone to outnumber the opposition. This insatiable thirst for offense is invaluable on a goal-starved Predators team.
Skating: Josi is an equally powerful and effortless skater. He boasts the pure speed to blow by defenders, while his agility allows him to evade forecheckers with ease. This pace also informs his defensive style, as he keeps aggressive gaps and can backtrack extraordinary well when he finds himself behind the play.
Vision: Though Nashville’s blue line can often seem like a one-man show, Josi is always scanning the ice to assess his options. He can detect the slightest opening for a pass, be it a long bomb or a backdoor feed. If he doesn’t like what he sees, he has the wheels and skill required to buy time for a better look.
In-Zone Defense: Much like a prime Duncan Keith, Josi excels at keeping the play from entering the defensive zone altogether. Once the opposition is settled, however, he’s no longer as stingy. He’s a bit leaky in front of his net, as he concedes a fair number of high-danger chances and isn’t all that effective at clearing the slot.
Power Play: On the attack, Josi isn’t the type of defenseman who’s happy to just walk the blue line. He excels in space and at a frenetic pace. As such, his impact decreases significantly within the plodding tempo of a power play. With almost too much time out there, he can grow a bit anxious and start making questionable decisions with the puck.