Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile surprised a few people around the league by locking Colton Sissons into a seven-year, $20 million contract right before the start of the 2019-20 season. That kind of term is usually reserved for franchise cornerstones, not bottom-six forwards. Sissons earning that deal was a prominent statement on how the Preds value his contributions, and how they see his role with the team evolving down the line.
In that context, Sissons’s ‘19-’20 season is a hard year to grade. He didn’t take that big step forward in his development like fans had hoped (you could argue it wasn’t entirely his fault), but he still excelled in a lot of areas.
Sissons totaled 15 points — 9 goals and 6 assists — in 57 games. That’s a 15-point drop from his 2018-19 total (15 G, 15 A). Even if the Preds had finished a full regular season, Sissons was well below his points-per-game pace from the prior two seasons. Amongst all Preds, Sissons ranked 11th in goals (tied with Kyle Turris) and 14th in points. He would go on to add an assist in the postseason, a small improving after going scoreless in the 2019 opening series against Dallas.
One fun fact: Sissons notched a short-handed goal in the October 24th game against the Wild, his first since 2016. That ended a span of 1,072 days between shorties. For perspective, Viktor Arvidsson scored 10 in that span.
The defensive zone might as well be called “The Comfort Zone” for Sissons. Other than Nick Bonino, there may not have been another Predators’ forward who excelled as much in front of his own net.
Opposing teams didn’t get too many prime scoring chances whenever Sissons was on the ice. That’s more impressive considering the majority of Sissons’s faceoffs took place in the defensive zone.
Another thing I love about this charts above? All of that blue in the slot. As a center, Sissons is often responsible for helping the defense cover the slot — either picking up players breaking in or collapsing back to cover when a defenseman is behind the net or pressuring someone on the wing. The fact that Sissons kept that area relatively clean all season is a testament to his defensive positioning IQ, and his ability to communicate with his teammates.
Obviously, Sissons doesn’t have to be a scoring powerhouse. But after his 15 goal, 30 point season in 2018-19, it’s fair to be somewhat disappointed with Sissons’s production this season.
Colton Sissons Stats by Season
On the surface, 9 goals in a pandemic-shortened season is a pretty solid number for Sissons, but there were also signs that was an overachievement compared to his on-ice play. His individual expected goals (which measure how often you should score based on the quality of chances you generate), dropped significantly from 0.74 per 60 minutes to 0.39.
The season started well enough. Sissons had 10 points in 13 games during the month of October. But he finished with just 5 in the final 44. That included a span of 18 games without a single point.
That’s not entirely Sissons’s fault, of course. He spent the majority of the season on the fourth line with a smorgasbord of linemates — everyone from Austin Watson and Yakov Trenin to Kyle Turris and Calle Jarnkrok. Oftentimes his line spent entire shifts stuck in the defensive zone, so by the time he had an opportunity for a breakout or a zone entry, a simple dump in wasn’t a poor option. And his low assists show his teammates weren’t exactly finishing chances either.
Still, Sissons has a very sharp eye for the goal, as evidenced by his high shooting percentage in three of the past four seasons. The problem is he didn’t take a ton of shots this season. You would love to see Sissons be a little more aggressive in the offensive zone. He has a strong shot, and is clearly capable of scoring 15-20 goals a season.
Remember that fun “first shorthanded goal in a thousands days” fact? Well hey! Let’s revisit that game! It happened way back on October 24th, 2019.
From what we’ve heard, Sissons may benefit from the Predators’ recent roster reshuffling. Poile hinted Sissons may be someone who moves up in the lineup card next season (or at least plays a more prominent role). There are a lot of different spots he can fit in, given his ability to play any forward position. Wherever he is, I would expect a more productive offensive season if the year resumes.
The Final Grade
Your turn to weigh in!
What grade would you give Colton Sissons for the 2019-20 season?
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