Colton Sissons, the primary third-line center for the Predators, will be in Nashville for another seven years on a $20 million dollar contract. The 25-year-old forward notched a career-high 30 points and 15 goals last year.
Sissons, most known for his defensive play, is the most productive in Nashville’s bottom six. He started in the defensive zone 618 times in the regular season (an offensive faceoff percentage of 32.90%), and still finished the year with a plus/minus of +20. Sissons also won 53.09% of all his faceoffs and limited his PIM to 23 minutes. The 15 goals he notched was a cherry on top.
At the very least, Sissons did his job very well last year.
It would not be a stretch to say he will improve this year as he has over the last couple of seasons. With each coming season, he has increased both his point and goal totals. The 2018-2019 season was not his “breakout year”, but considering his role and his place in the lineup, the Predators absolutely needed him. Evidently, they still do.
What’s Next For Nashville’s Center Depth?
Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene, Kyle Turris, Nick Bonino, and Sissons all now have multi-million dollar contracts, and unfortunately, with a looming contract upgrade with their captain, Roman Josi, someone will get the boot.
Signing Duchene silences any hope for Sissons to potentially crack the top six, and while probable, it is highly unlikely the Predators will break their top line apart (and if they were, Johansen would not be moved from the number one center position). That leaves Turris, Bonino, and Sissons. Signing Sissons solidifies his role for a while- at least until the Seattle expansion team comes into the discussion. But for now, Nashville intends to keep Sissons.
Most likely, Bonino will be the odd man out- both he and Sissons are almost identical in play with differences being money and potential performance of both players. Sissons is on a steady incline while Bonino is on a steady decline. Trading Bonino would open a significant amount of cap space for Josi later on, and allows Nashville to keep Turris.
Turris will benefit from third line competition, even if paying a third-line center $6 million a year is not ideal. The worst-case scenario is another blockbuster trade for assets and cash (much like the P.K. Subban trade). Frederick Gaudreau probably would fill in for a fourth-line center should Bonino and Turris both leave the team, so no matter the situation, the Predators will not lack in experienced centers top to bottom.
On the flip side, Turris’s contract is $1.9 million dollars more than Bonino’s and is spread out over a longer period of time.
Other notable contracts that are over this year include Austin Watson, Craig Smith, and Mikael Granlund. All of whom seem invaluable to the overall chemistry of the team as of right now.
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This contract may confuse those who do not understand the pertinence of his presence. Sissons was the captain of the Predators’ affiliate team in Milwaukee and performed his way into the starting lineup of the 2016/2017 playoffs (where he unquestionably made a name for himself). Basic statistics might claim he is replaceable, but when he was injured in late December, Nashville’s defensive play suffered. The only risk with him is how long his value will last. Sissons is not the kind of player to take control of the game- he is an inspired performer, not a game-changer.
Defensively, he has no cause for concern- but it never hurts to score more goals, right? He played his best game with Turris and Craig Smith (a combined Corsi For percentage of 57.205), so he’s seasoned with scoring forwards. One might even say it would not be so terrible if Turris and Sissons were on the same line.
Primarily, he played with Bonino, Ryan Hartman (before his departure), Austin Watson, and Calle Jarnkrok. Sissons and Bonino could create havoc if they had possession of the puck around the net, but other than that, the Bonino-Sissons-Watson line was ineffective at best. Truth be told, Sissons needs better linemates in order to maximize his full offensive capabilities.
Overall, this contract has more upside than downside. Teams need players like Sissons- tenacious, and full of intangibles that are somewhat priceless. One game that stood out specifically was when Nashville played the Vegas Golden Knights on October 30th last season. Nashville’s offense was dead- even the JOFA line wasn’t moving the way they weren’t supposed to (and that’s where the offense came from for the longest time). It was Sissons, on the penalty kill, who created two shorthanded chances in front of the net. Suddenly, the Predators came alive and scored two consecutive goals and gained control.
Let’s put it this way: he earned this pay increase. He would be a second-line center on most other teams, and he very well may be a 20 goal scorer this season. All he needs to do is what he’s been doing with other linemates that can help him manufacture more points.
–Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators for FullPressCoverage.com and PenaltyBoxRadio.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter at @jack_woods15