The Nashville Predators signed defenseman Roman Josi to a seven-year, $28 million contract Monday, securing the other piece of their top defensive line.
"I think last year we saw the growth in Roman almost like no other younger player we’ve had, probably the best comparison I could come up with is Shea Weber and Ryan Suter," general manager David Poile said. "The irony of that of course is Roman fit in very nice into Ryan’s position last year."
Josi replaced Suter and was teamed with Weber, whose 14-year, $110 million offer sheet was matched by Nashville last July. Poile said signing Josi was a top priority for a player who was a restricted free agent.
"Just turning 23 last week, I think the potential is certainly there for Roman to be one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League," Poile said. "Obviously, signing him to seven years ensures that we will have our top defense pairing intact for any number of years with he and our captain Shea Weber. I think the foundation continues to get stronger here with in the last year."
Since November 2011, the Predators have signed goaltender Pekka Rinne, Weber and now Josi to long-term contracts. Forward Patric Hornqvist signed a five-year deal for $21.2 million in April.
Josis was Nashville’s third draft selection in 2008 at 38th overall in the second round. He had 18 points in 48 games for the Predators this season, topping what he did as a rookie in 2011-12. He ranked 19th in the NHL in total minutes played and wound up playing 23 1/2 minutes a game, a jump of more than 5 minutes. He has 34 points in 100 regular-season games.
The defenseman also led Switzerland to a silver medal at the world championships — that nation’s first medal in 60 years. Josi also was the first Swiss named Most Valuable Player, best defenseman and a tournament All-Star.
"His growth was tremendous, and that carried over to the international stage," Poile said.