One of the many fascinating narratives about the Nashville Predators this season is Roman Josi and his campaign to win the Norris Trophy.

Despite a poor showing last week, where he collected zero points in two games, Roman Josi has been on an absolute tear this season.

Josi’s 81 points leads all defensemen and ranks 14th among all skaters. Prior to last week, he was on pace to score 100 points this season. That mark will be a bit tougher to reach now, but seeing as how he leads all defensemen in 3+ point games (he has 10), he may only need a couple games to get back on track.

Josi is having one of the best seasons by a defenseman since at least Chris Pronger in 1999-00 (who won the Hart Trophy that year) and perhaps not since Paul Coffey or Bobby Orr.

Pronger, Coffey, Orr… all fair comparisons to what Josi is doing on the ice this year.

But despite all this, he’s still in a very tough race for the Norris Trophy, the NHL’s award for top defenseman.

In a coaches poll over at The Athletic, Pierre Lebrun asked all 32 coaches who they would select as their Norris Trophy winner. The takeaways were very interesting, considering everything I just mentioned about the amazing season Josi is having:

  • The race is clearly a three man race between Josi, Cale Makar, and Victor Hedman
  • Josi barely edged out Cale Makar in overall voting, 71 to 67, with Hedman netting 44 points.
  • No other defenseman besides those three is even mentioned in the running

A four point edge in the voting for Norris Trophy winner! That’s pretty incredible. It might the toughest race for the Norris as the league’s ever seen.

Quick note: the Norris Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association (PHWA), not the NHL head coaches. But it seems fair to assume the coaches and the writers are at least in the same ballpark when it comes to assessing the top defensemen in the league. I would assume the real vote, if it were to happen today, would also be very close.

By the way, in this week’s “On The Preds”, Shaun and I discussed the Norris Trophy as well, saying that the gap between Josi and Makar had narrowed recently.

In any other season, the season Roman Josi would not only be a runaway favorite for the Norris, he would have to be considered a Hart Trophy candidate as well. And maybe he still is.

But it just goes to show how tough the NHL can be: that even when a defenseman is putting up a “once in a lifetime” type of season, there’s still another player pushing the competition to be even better.

— Featured image via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports —