Roman Josi: From the Swiss Alps to the Smoky Mountains

The Nashville Predators have had some franchise players throughout their existence in the NHL, and of those is Swiss superstar Roman Josi.

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Josi was born on June 1, 1990, in Bern, Switzerland. He started his professional career in 2006 with SC Bern in the National League (NL), the professional league in Switzerland. In the 2007-08 season, after spending two years with the club’s NLB team (second division), he became a permanent member of Bern in the A Division. At the age of 17, he was one of the youngest players to take the ice in the Swiss top league.

Roman Josi Predators
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators Oct. 19, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

How did he end up in Nashville? Josi was selected 38th overall in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Predators. He made an impact from a young age. He started his career in the organization in the 2010-11 season, where he played that entire year with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Preds’ American Hockey League affiliate. While in Milwaukee, he posted 40 points in 69 games, scoring 6 goals and 34 assists.

The Big Leagues

Josi scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 10, 2011, against Dan Ellis of the Anaheim Ducks. In that 2011-12 season with the Preds, he charted 16 points in 52 games. He is a 6-foot-1, 201-pound defender capable of playing in all situations. He can be depended upon in crucial situations and creates scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates, making him a standout force on the blue line.

He began the 2012-13 season back home in Switzerland with SC Bern because of the NHL lockout. With the lockout over, he returned to Nashville. On Feb. 25, 2013, the night of his return, Josi had a career-high four points (two goals and two assists) in an overtime victory against the Dallas Stars. In the 2014-15 season, he had a career year, ranking fifth among defensemen and finishing with a then-career-high 55 points. At the end of that season, he finished in the top-five for the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) vote.

He had yet another career-best season in 2015-16, where he had 61 points in 81 games, with 14 goals and 47 assists. This season saw him finish in the top-five again for the Norris Trophy vote. He was selected to play in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game with Shea Weber, James Neal, and Pekka Rinne.

During the 2016-17 season, he was chosen alongside Neal to be an alternate captain. Josi’s defensive skill and playmaking abilities played a huge role in the Predators’ run to the Cup Final in 2017. Although he was placed on injured reserve, he managed to finish the season with 12 goals and 49 assists in only 72 games.

Roman Josi Predators
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators Oct. 19, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Before starting the 2017-18 season, Josi was named the club’s seventh captain on Sept. 19, 2017. While wearing the “C” for his first season, he had 53 points in 75 games, another solid season for the Swiss star. On Oct. 29, 2019, he signed an eight-year contract extension worth $72.472 million. In his 632 NHL games in a Predators uniform, he has 109 goals and 304 assists for 413 total points.

In 2020, after the two previous top-five finishes, Josi finally won the Norris Trophy – he is the first Predator and the first Swiss player to win. He happily said, “It means a lot. It’s definitely a dream come true.” Josi had NHL career highs again in goals (16), assists (49), and points (65) in 69 games in the 2019-20 season. He was second in the NHL amongst defensemen in each category, and his assists and points were the most by a defenseman in the history of the Predators. He ranked third in the NHL in average ice time per game (25:47), garnered 23 power-play points, and led the Predators with 108 blocked shots and a plus-22 rating.

International Play

Josi represented Switzerland at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship in 2007 and 2008. He also represented his home country in 2007, 2008 and 2009 at the IIHF Under-20 World Championships. In the 2008 Under-18 World Championship, he tied for the team lead with five points. He was named the top defenseman at the 2009 IIHF Division I World Junior Championship, a tournament which the Swiss team won. He tied for first amongst defensemen with three goals at this tournament and was ranked second for defensemen with four points. He was the youngest player on the roster and the third-youngest tournament-wide.

Roman Josi
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi is congratulated by the bench. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Josi was chosen to represent Switzerland in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where they lost in the quarter-finals to Team USA. He was chosen as tournament MVP at the IIHF World Championship in 2013 held in Stockholm, Sweden. He was selected to represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He has a silver medal in international competition, one he got at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark, where the Swiss team fell short in a shootout against Sweden.

Charity Work

Josi is very involved in the Nashville community. He has a partnership with the Best Buddies program in Nashville, which raises money for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and is represented in over 100 middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout Tennessee. In 2016, the annual Gala and Casino event raised more than $265,000. He even goes as far as escorting the Nashville-area children attending the gala in an Uber.

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He has given a $20,000 donation to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Earlier this year, he and his wife donated another $20,000 to Home Street Ministries, a homeless shelter providing clothing, food and shelter to those affected by homelessness in the Nashville area.

The Future for Josi

Josi is an all-around good guy. He is an exceptional player, a good leader on and off the ice and is dedicated to his community involvement. I believe that he will continue to put up huge points for the Predators in the upcoming seasons and continue to dedicate his time to the Nashville community. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Swiss star in the blue and gold.