One of the biggest storylines for the Nashville Predators this summer will be the pending contract extension for defenseman Roman Josi.

The Predators’ captain has one year remaining on his seven year, $28 million deal he signed back in 2013. David Poile and the team have already indicated that signing Josi to a contract extension (which they can do as of July 1st) is one of their priorities this summer.

As it should be.

Roman Josi put up yet another 50-point campaign in 2018-19, the fourth time he’s reach that mark in his eight seasons in the NHL. He finished 8th in the NHL among defensemen in points (56) and 13th in assists (41). He also led all Preds skaters in average ice time (25:10 per game) for the 5th straight season.

Oh, and he also just finished his 2nd season as team captain and seems to be growing into that role nicely.

So there’s no doubt that the Predators are going to do everything they can to lock up Roman Josi for the foreseeable future. But what will his contract extension look like?

Contract Comparables

Looking at previous contracts is just about the best way to predict future contracts. But it’s not perfect, especially when looking at hard to fill positions like a top pair defenseman. There just aren’t that many effective top pairing defensemen out there signing new contracts in their prime years.

Using Cap Friendly’s comparables tool, I was able to find ten defenseman of similar caliber to Josi to compare. Here was my criteria for including them in the comparison:

  • Aged 28-31 at the time of contract (Josi will be 29)
  • Similar career points per game and career possession (CF%) numbers (though you will see I had to stretch this a bit for guys like Vlasic and Alzner… again, there’s just not many guys like Josi)
  • Average annual value (AAV) of $4 million or higher (Josi’s current AAV)
  • Contracts signed after July 1st, 2016 (so, the last 3 years)

I also included Ryan Ellis in the comparison even though he doesn’t fit all of the above criteria. I figured throwing in David Poile’s most recent contract extension wouldn’t hurt, especially since it’s a defenseman.

Here are the results:

Roman Josi Nashville Predators
Contract data from Cap Friendly. Hockey stats data from Hockey Reference.

Looking at the results, a few things stand out.

First, paying less than $6 million per year for a defenseman of Roman Josi’s caliber is impossible in today’s NHL. Nine of the ten comparables make north of $6.25 million per year and the only one who doesn’t is Karl Alzner (who, if I’m honest, doesn’t belong on this list, but I wanted to get an even ten players).

Next, you can count on Josi signing for at least seven or eight years. Seven of the ten players in this comparison signed for at least seven years, with five of the ten signing for the max contract length (eight years).

Finally, notice that Josi’s current point production is equal to or better than everyone on this list. Based on this, he is going to be more expensive than most of the guys on this list.

Other Things to Consider

Before getting to the bottom line, we must consider two other factors: what moves David Poile makes this summer and what happens with Erik Karlsson.

First, as Poile stated at the Preds’ final press conference of the season, there are going to be significant moves this summer. That could include trading away key players, or maybe even breaking up the “Big Four” defensemen.

Whatever the Preds decide to do over the next couple months could have a major impact on what the team decides to do with Josi’s contract. I don’t think it will affect whether or not they sign him, but it could affect the contract negotiations.

The other key is Erik Karlsson. It doesn’t sound like contract extension talks are going well in San Jose with Karlsson. If Karlsson is on the market on July 1st, it could throw things into chaos with Josi. Poile will be scrambling to sign the extension before Karlsson signs, and Josi and his camp will use Karlsson’s contract value (which will certainly be higher than Josi’s) as leverage.

These two factors could greatly influence the final number for Josi’s extension.

So What’s Josi Getting?

Ok, it’s time for the bottom line. What kind of contract will Roman Josi get?

Based on the comparables above, and based on the contract Ryan Ellis signed last year, I think we can expect an eight-year, $70 million contract for Josi. This would give him an average annual value of $8.75 million.

This would slot Roman Josi as the 2nd highest paid defensemen on the Nashville Predators and the 3rd highest paid defensemen in the NHL (until Erik Karlsson signs). It would also be the largest contract ever negotiated by David Poile, both in overall value and in average annual value.

— Contract information from Cap Friendly. Featured image via Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports —

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