Just over a month ago, Mike Fisher, the Predators captain, announced his retirement from the NHL. Last year, head coach Peter Laviolette named him the Predators captain as a replacement for Shea Weber, who wore the C from 2010 to 2016. Ultimately, Fisher’s retirement means the organization is now once again without a leader. This marks the second summer in a row the Nashville Predators will be without a captain. The organization now faces a tough and important decision that must be addressed before the 2017-2018 season begins: who will the Nashville Predators choose as their new captain among a group of young leaders to guide this team moving forward?
Who Will Be the Nashville Predators Next Captain?
The front runner to replace Mike Fisher as captain is the Predators’ former second round pick, Roman Josi. The 27 year old Swiss born defenseman is already a large piece of the organization’s leadership group and was a full-time alternate captain last season. With the departure of James Neal to the Vegas Golden Knights this past June, Josi is now the Predators’ longest serving alternate captain. Simply due to the fact that he is the most experienced leader on the Predators, Josi is definitely a logical option to replace Fisher’s role as captain.
Aside from having leadership experience, Josi should be considered because of the qualities he embodies. One of these qualities is his willingness to do whatever it takes to win. For Josi, this dedication is evident as he is always willing to sacrifice his body by blocking shots or by logging heavy minutes. Last season, Josi finished third on the team in blocks and first in Time on Ice per game, averaging 25:04. By finishing first in TOI, it is evident that Predators organization and Peter Laviolette have unwavering trust in him.
Furthermore, Josi has an impressive work ethic that is needed to lead by example as a captain. Teammates and management alike have noticed his work ethic. After announcing that Josi would be a full-time alternate last season, Peter Laviolette had high praise for his elite blue liner, noting, “If we could have had three official alternates last season we would have, and Roman would have been one of them. Roman’s a guy that works hard in the summer and practices hard every day. He’s good with his teammates. He’s a great addition to the team and our leadership group; the work ethic he brings to our team is top notch.”
With three seasons left on his contract, Josi would be an appropriate choice as captain as he will be round for a number of years to help guide the organization’s rising stars. Not to mention, Josi would be a good face of the franchise as captain as he represents the organization’s commitment to developing all-star calibre defensemen. Josi is definitely a player to consider.
Similarly to Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis is also a deserving candidate to be the Nashville Predators next captain. Last season, the 26 year old former first round pick had his best year thus far. In 71 contests, Ellis surpassed his previous career high in points of 32 by notching 38. This included setting a new career high in goals, breaking his old record of 10 by notching six more. This career year also included 13 more points in the Predators impressive playoff run as Ellis’ play improved drastically. His average ice time increased by three minutes as well, proving just how valuable he became to his organization. Ellis is quickly becoming an elite defenseman.
Aside from a career year statistically speaking, Peter Laviolette named Ellis the Predators’ third alternate in February. After giving Ellis an A, Laviolette said, “He’s emerged as a guy that we count on inside of that room, along with the leaders that we already have in place, to be able to push this team to the next level.”
With that said, Ellis may not be the best choice. He only has two years remaining on his contract, meaning that he may not be a with the team for the long run. Although he is likely to resign with the Preds, this uncertainty might lead the team to go in another direction. This is definitely something the Predators organization will consider as it is unlikely that they will want to possibly appoint a new captain again in two seasons. This is especially true after having to replace longtime captain Shea Weber a year ago and now Fisher after just one season.
If the Nashville Predators are hoping to have one captain for the foreseeable future, Ryan Johansen is their guy. This past July, Johansen re-signed with the Preds for $64 million over eight years. Inking Johansen to such a contract means that he will be an intangible part of the Predators’ core moving forward. For this reason, he may become the their captain.
However, the Vancouver native has yet to wear a letter in his six NHL seasons, thus lacking leadership experience. Not to mention, the 25 year old is a relative newcomer to to the organization and might not command the same respect as someone like Josi. Johansen has donned the blue and gold 124 times compared to Josi who has played 406 games with Nashville. In addition to this, Johansen will likely feel the pressure and scrutiny that comes along with signing such a massive deal. Ultimately, becoming captain would further increase these expectation and so choosing Johansen might not be the best fit.
Heading into next season, expect the Nashville Predators to name Roman Josi as the eighth captain in franchise history. At the end of the day, they will likely select him due to his leadership experience, win at any cost mentality, and because the organization is very familiar with him. If this is the case, it would be reasonable to then see both Ellis and Johansen named alternate captains. Other possible alternates that could considered are Mattias Ekholm, P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg and veteran forward Scott Hartnell.