The Nashville Predators expect to see a changing of the guard at fourth-line center next season.
The Nashville Predators have multiple prospects that will have the opportunity, during the off-season and training camp, to make the roster this next year. Probably no one with a better chance than Colton Sissons. At 22 years old and a 6’1″ 200-pound frame Sissons has shown the Preds his abilities as a solid two-way forward.
Even though this is a season grading article I will also be looking at Sissons future with the Nashville Predators; after the recent press conference, General Manager David Poile provided.
So let’s begin by looking at Colton’s stats from this season.
2015-2016 regular-season stats:
34 games, 4 goals, 2 assists, plus +5 rating, 16 penalty minutes, 25 shots on net, 55.95 faceoff win percentage
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Sissons played less than half a season with the Nashville Predators on the fourth line. A line that consisted of a rotation of either Paul Gaustad, Miikka Salomaki, Austin Watson, or Eric Nystrom. Sissons was used either as a wing with Gaustad and Salomaki or as the center of the fourth line, his natural position, when Gaustad was hurt or out of the lineup.
Those numbers don’t jump out at you and I know it’s not impressive, but there were obvious reasons. Playing less than half a season and on the fourth line, as mentioned before, can have a lot to do with that.
I’m excited about his season with us and what he’ll bring to the team in the future. Sissons is a two-way forward. He has shown his abilities on offense in Milwaukee for the Admirals, but he’s also shown his talents on defense. To me, Colton Sissons is best compared to Mike Fisher. He will work hard and get some points on offense, but he also puts in the effort to help defend in the defensive zone.
Something I’ve mentioned in a past article, Colton Sissons was visible. That’s something I absolutely love that Peter Laviolette has said about players. He was visible. Meaning that even though it may not always show up on the scoreboard you can see his impact on the ice. The reason I like hearing that is because it helps point out to fans and others that you don’t have to score goals to make an impact on the team. As a two-way forward Sissons provides a hard forecheck and he fights along the boards for the puck. It’s nice to see him battle and grind throughout a game.
As a two-way forward Sissons provides a hard forecheck and he fights along the boards for the puck. It’s nice to see him battle and grind throughout a game.
My last article that talked about Mike Ribeiro focused on one big thing, which was faceoffs. I’m not afraid to say it again. Faceoff wins are key to winning a hockey game. Being able to set up and attack or being able to clear the puck on a penalty kill all depend on that face off win. This season Sissons had a 55.95 win percentage on the faceoff battle, and having that win percentage above 50% is huge. That’s the type of win percentage Paul Gaustad has brought to the table for Nashville’s team.
Paul Gaustad was our faceoff specialist. When The Nashville Predators had a one-goal lead with a minute or so left Gaustad was out there ready to win the faceoff to help clear the puck and ice the game. After the recent press conference, it looks like Colton Sissons will be replacing Goose as that specialist. David Poile announced that the team plans to move on and not resign Gaustad.
So as it appears that Colton looks like Polie’s choice to be the heir apparent to that line. His faceoffs win percentage is impressive, and with the extra workload, his abilities on the faceoff will be tested.
Something you’d like to see out of a young forward would be more offense. I know I defended why he wasn’t scoring as much earlier in the article, but let’s play devil’s advocate. Sissons had offensive success in the AHL, in fact, his last two seasons for the Admirals were very successful. This provided Polie and Laviolette plenty of reason to want to call him up and give him a chance at a roster spot.
2013-2014 regular-season stats for Milwaukee Admirals:
62 games, 25 goals, 19 assists, minus -3 rating, 8 penalty minutes, 158 shots on net
2014-2015 regular-season stats for Milwaukee Admirals:
76 games, 25 goals, 17 assists, plus-minus rating of 0, 27 penalty minutes, 188 shots on net
Those are solid numbers for a young guy. When you’re auditioning a prospect like Sissons you want to make sure they can transition their game into the pros. I know the AHL and the NHL are different levels and some prospects can’t transition well enough, but with the flashes of talent we’ve seen, I’d like to see those offensive skills build and get better in the pros.
I realize there weren’t a lot of games for Sissons this season, but the reason I give a B- is for two things. First, the excitement for his future on our team. He’s 22 years old and has shown signs that he can be a solid center for this roster. Second, that even though it’s a smaller sample size than what you’d like to have, I believe Sissons has proven he can handle the NHL workload. He’s solid on faceoffs and if he can transition his offensive success from the AHL to the NHL then I think we can have that solid center depth that’s needed to win in the league.
This is one of those exciting players we should be paying attention to this next season. I imagine we’ll be seeing him make an impact to The Nashville Predators roster sooner rather than later.