Roman Josi will be 30 in June.
Which is why his new eight-year contract — at an AAV starting with a 9 — is not a good idea. You don’t need to be a genius to understand what’s wrong with locking in over-30 guys long-term these days, and it would be legitimately surprising if Josi is even halfway decent by the time he’s 35 or 36, let alone 37 or 38.
Not that this is a guy with a huge amount of miles on him, as he’s currently under 650 games between the regular season and playoffs, but the fact is that very few people are Zdeno Chara or Nick Lidstrom, who can play into their late 30s and beyond and still be effective.
Right now, the kind of season Josi is having is Norris-worthy, but he’s never really been more than a vague “top-5 Norris guy,” and soon he will the third-highest AAV among defenders in the league. This is a contract that’s more likely than not to age quite badly, and by the end of it, there’s a very good chance Nashville is trying desperately to get out from under this deal like it did PK Subban over the summer.
The thing with guys who turn 30 is the likelihood of their game just dropping off a cliff over one random summer increases drastically. Does Josi undoubtedly have two, three more good years in him almost guaranteed? Yes, of course. Could that be all Nashville really gets for value on an eight-year deal? Unfortunately, yeah.
But on the other hand: None of the above probably matters all that much. Nashville is currently the third-oldest team in the league, and key contributors at every position are deep on the wrong side of the aging curve. Pekka Rinne is 37, Kyle Turris is 30, Ryan Ellis and Matt Duchene will join him in January, and Mattias Ekholm will follow them in May before Josi hops on board a couple weeks later. Even the younger guys on the roster — Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, and Ryan Johansen — are in the tail ends of their prime production years.
All of those guys are now signed for a combined $56.3 million AAV against the cap through the end of next season. At that point, Rinne comes off and the obligation drops to $51.3 million. Two summers later, both Ekholm (at that point 32) and Fosberg (29) are off the books, but the other six guys — of whom only Arvidsson will still be anywhere near 30 — will be on the books through at least 2024.
All of which is to say David Poile seems to (rightly) recognize that he’s got a couple more kicks at the can with this core group, which he’s tinkered with wisely in recent years. If the cost of keeping Josi — and the certainty he provides — around for the next two or three years is another five or six after that at potentially way too much money? Seems like that’s fine.
What does he care? Poile is turning 70 in a few months. This guy worked for the Atlanta Flames. In their first season. He was named GM of the Capitals three months before Pekka Rinne was born. So he’s gotta be more or less ready to cash out when this group’s chances do. Put another way, the chances he has to worry about years 6-8 of this deal if he doesn’t really want to are low.
By signing Josi for way too much money and waaaaay too long, he all but assures the Predators will remain at least competitive until the core hits the early-to-mid-30s range collectively — and won’t have to go searching for a Josi replacement. He won’t have cap flexibility, but in theory he won’t need much of it. By the time that becomes an issue, the team will have bigger problems.
So if this contract gets both him and a group that is undoubtedly among the two or three best he’s put together to the 19th hole? Well, that’s all you can reasonably ask for.
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