One of the top priorities for general manager David Poile and the Nashville Predators this offseason was to re-sign star defenceman and captain Roman Josi to an extension. Training camp is fully underway, and the first preseason games are in the books, but Josi still has not put pen to paper.
When the Predators went through a similar situation with Ryan Ellis, the deal was completed mid-August of that 2018 offseason. Poile has shown a preference of getting such deals done before the regular season starts up and certainly before the summer of the respective player’s free agency commences. However, for whatever reason, we are still sitting here today with no deal in place.
The market dictates value, and with more than a handful of notable defencemen being signed in the last month alone, Josi’s value may have been reset.
The Summer of the Defenceman
Back in July, Samuel Girard signed a seven-year extension worth $35 million with the Colorado Avalanche and Jacob Trouba inked a deal with the New York Rangers for seven years, $56 million.
In just the month of September, seven defencemen have signed new deals, either in the form of a re-signing, free agent signing or extension.
- Charlie McAvoy – 3 years/$14.7 million ($4.9 million AAV)
- Jared Spurgeon – 7 years/$53.025 million ($7.575 million AAV)
- Ivan Provorov – 6 years/$40.5 million ($6.75 million AAV)
- Josh Morrissey – 8 years/$50 million ($6.25 million AAV)
- Jake Gardiner – 4 years/$16.2 million ($4.05 million AAV)
- Zach Werenski – 3 years/$15 million ($5 million AAV)
Most recently, the Ottawa Senators handed defenceman, Thomas Chabot an eight-year, $64 million extension, with an average annual value (AAV) of $8 million.
Related: Predicting Roman Josi’s Extension
Before some of these mammoth signings, such as Trouba’s, Spurgeon’s and Chabot’s, the AAV that seemed feasible for Josi was $8.5 million. Sure, he’s worth more, probably somewhere north of $9 million, but with the “hometown” discount he applauded Ellis for taking, $8.5 million isn’t crazy. However, that was before the market started showing the recent value of star defencemen.
Josi’s Elite Production
Let’s not forget that over the past five regular seasons, Josi has 70 goals and 204 assists for 274 points, which places him in a tie with Victor Hedman for the third-most points by a defenceman over that period. During that time the Predators’ captain also has 25 regular season power-play goals, which is the fourth-most.
Using Trouba’s, Chabot’s and Spurgeon’s deals as benchmarks, as they have been the largest of the summer for defencemen, it’s clear that Josi cannot be paid the same or just a fraction more. Josi must receive a deal that has an AAV of at least $1 million more than Trouba and Chabot’s $8 million, and here’s why.
During that same five-year span previously referenced, neither Trouba nor Chabot have come close to Josi’s production, in fact, none of the defencemen who signed this offseason have. No player on the list above is even within 100 points of Josi’s 274.
Trouba has played in 343 games during the past five seasons, compared to Josi’s 391, with the newly signed New York Ranger recording 32 goals, 118 assists for 150 points.
Chabot’s stat line is a little tougher to compare, seen as he’s only suited up for 134 games over that five-year span. Therefore, comparing and criticizing the Senator for registering 23 goals, 57 assists for 80 points is a little unfair, he simply hasn’t played enough. His first year in the NHL was technically 2016-17, but he only played in one game that year.
However, that doesn’t mean Chabot should be excluded when arguing what Josi should be paid, you just need to look at his stats differently. During his 134 career NHL games, Chabot averages 0.597 points-per-game and is a minus-26. Conversely, Josi averages 0.701 points-per-game and is plus-52.
Josi’s numbers are not only better than Chabot’s, but his total points, points-per-game and plus/minus during the past five seasons top every defenceman who signed this summer to a lucrative contract.
Time to Reward the All-Star
Yes, except for Spurgeon, all the defencemen who received contracts recently are younger than Josi, and GMs are trying to secure their young talent. But, Josi was once young too with the same amount of potential as say, Chabot, yet Josi was only awarded a $28 million contract with an AAV of $4 million. So, for all the production the Predators received above and beyond that $4 million value must be rewarded now.
Related: Predators’ Offseason To-Do List
Poile isn’t scared of paying the big dollars to elite players, whether defenceman or forward, he accepted all of Subban’s $9 million AAV contract. After examining the signings that have taken place so far this offseason, $9 million to $9.5 million for the Swiss-born defenceman seems fair. However, Josi being on the books for $9 million AAV would be more favorable than Subban’s $9 million because Poile can control the terms rather than have them dictated to him.
The defencemen with the league’s largest contracts are the San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson, who has a cap-hit of $11.5 million and the Los Angeles Kings’, Drew Doughty, who is receiving an average annual value of $11 million. Now, it is unlikely that Josi will command figures such as those, but the 29-year-old has performed considerably better than Doughty during the past five seasons. Doughty has played in 19 more games than Josi during that span, yet the Predators’ star defenceman has recorded 28 more points. Also, remember Josi’s plus 52? Well, it easily bests Doughty’s plus 24.
Again, this is not an argument saying the bar should be set around the $11 million AAV mark, but it’s hard to argue that Josi should receive considerably less when he’s outpacing the league’s second-highest average annual earner when it comes to defencemen.
The Predators will have approximately $20 million removed from their books after this upcoming season, giving Poile plenty of room to work with. Obviously, with that $20 million, there will need to be dollars allocated to other players – Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund are two notable players who will need new contracts to stay in Nashville. However, “top-priority” means doing whatever it takes to lock-up the cornerstone of your defence. It also means building other player’s contracts around Josi’s.