Nashville Predators: Making the Norris Trophy case for Roman Josi

Roman Josi deserves to become the first Nashville Predators defenseman to win the Norris Trophy.

Every year, the Norris Trophy goes to the NHL’s best defenseman. Despite having such names as Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, the Nashville Predators have never had anyone win the Norris. Pekka Rinne is the only Preds player in history to win a major individual award. Team captain Roman Josi should change that by winning the Norris Trophy.

Yesterday, the NHL released the list of the Norris Trophy finalists. To no one’s surprise, Josi’s name was on the list. He finished second in the NHL among defensemen in points with 65, trailing only John Carlson’s 75 points. Josi has been underrated for most of his career, but now he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Why Josi Deserves To Win

Points are an important thing to look at when evaluating defensemen. Josi certainly deserves to win the award based on his production. It took a nearly historic effort from Carlson to keep Josi from leading the league in points among defensemen. Josi’s 0.94 points per game are right on pace with Mark Giordano’s numbers from last season when he won the Norris.

However, points aren’t all that matter from defensemen. You also want your defensemen to defend effectively. Josi’s numbers are much better than Carlson’s here. Carlson drives offense both at 5v5 and on the power play, but his defensive numbers are, to put it politely, suboptimal.

Let’s compare Josi’s numbers to Carlson’s. All of these stats are at 5v5 and are courtesy of our friends at Natural Stat Trick. The rankings are among the 99 defensemen who played at least 1,000 5v5 minutes this season.

Carlson

  • 5v5 relative CorsiAgainst per hour: +4.3 (83rd)
  • 5v5 relative FenwickAgainst per hour: +3.54 (81st)
  • 5v5 relative ShotsAgainst per hour: +3.55 (86th)
  • 5v5 relative GoalsAgainst per hour: +0.49 (81st)
  • 5v5 relative ExpectedGoalsAgainst per hour: +0.21 (70th)

Josi

  • 5v5 relative CorsiAgainst per hour: +2.16 (67th)
  • 5v5 relative FenwickAgainst per hour: 0 (50th)
  • 5v5 relative ShotsAgainst per hour: +0.21 (54th)
  • 5v5 relative GoalsAgainst per hour: -0.64 (6th)
  • 5v5 relative ExpectedGoalsAgainst per hour: -0.11 (31st)

As you can see, Josi clearly made a more significant impact defensively. The Predators were a much better team at preventing goals whenever he was on the ice. Meanwhile, the Capitals allowed more goals with Carlson on the ice than they did without him on the ice.

Now, let’s look at some more offensive metrics. Again, points aren’t everything. How good were Carlson and Josi at driving offense?

Carlson

  • 5v5 relative CorsiFor per hour: +3.5 (33rd)
  • 5v5 relative FenwickFor per hour: +3.37 (26th)
  • 5v5 relative ShotsFor per hour: +3.11 (21st)
  • 5v5 relative GoalsFor per hour: +0.47 (31st)
  • 5v5 relative ExpectedGoalsFor per hour: +0.17 (31st)

Josi

  • 5v5 relative CorsiFor per hour: +12.62 (1st)
  • 5v5 relative FenwickFor per hour: +7.77 (1st)
  • 5v5 relative ShotsFor per hour: +6.81 (1st)
  • 5v5 relative GoalsFor per hour: +1.05 (2nd)
  • 5v5 relative ExpectedGoalsFor per hour: +0.46 (4th)

Again, Josi’s clearly the more impactful defenseman. This is true on both offense and defense. Josi’s numbers were also better on the penalty kill. Though I’ll concede Carlson’s numbers were better on the power play.

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Carlson had a historically productive season. We haven’t seen a defenseman average more points per game than Carlson’s 1.09 since the 1993-94 season. Carlson’s 1.09 points per game are the 11th most any defenseman has ever put up in at least 60 games. However, Josi was objectively the more impactful, more efficient, and better defenseman this season. He should win the Norris Trophy.

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