The fireworks of free agency may be over for the Nashville Predators. Now they can focus on the team that will take the ice next season.
Fans have clamored for changes to the Nashville Predators roster for a couple of seasons now. The front office saw the writing on the wall and made some pretty significant changes, but did they move the team enough in the right direction to make a difference?
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The departures have been well-documented, as have the free agent and trade acquisitions. Lots of new faces will have to integrate with the veterans who have played together for several years.
One key veteran who really needs to surge up the roster and make a bigger impact is Colton Sissons.
If this ends up being the fourth line roster that Head Coach John Hynes goes with, they have the potential to be more productive than last season’s fourth line combinations.
The Predators are going to have some hills to climb and some obstacles to overcome if they are going to have any impact in the Western Conference in 2021.
However, there’s hope that veterans like Sissons can up their level of play and lead the way for the newcomers on the roster.
Veterans have to lead the way, including Sissons
Next season will be critical for Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Matt Duchene. This core group of players will be relied upon to lead the team, which is always the case when you’re the perceived stars of the team.
A resurgence from Sissons, who is about to turn 27 and has over 300 games for the Predators now, will be critical to the Predators avoiding slipping further back in the Western Conference race.
There have been rumors of Sissons in a top-six role, possibly on the second line with Duchene. If this is to be a possibility, it will take a considerable shift in Sissons’ game to play up to the expectations that have been placed on that line even before the start of next season.
From the looks of the current roster, the majority of the scoring is expected to come from the top two lines. This means that anyone who is placed on either of those lines will need to play at a high level offensively.
We know that last season was a forgettable one for the Predators. Several players had off years, including Sissons. It was a letdown of sorts as he posted a career high in goals (15) and points (30) the season before.
Poile awarded Sissons with a five-year contract worth $14.3M before the start of the 2019-20 season. But then Sissons never really got going and was buried in the bottom-six for most of the season in a lineup that was constantly being shuffled around.
Sissons saw his numbers cut in half last season. He put up 15 points (9 goals, 6 assists) and saw his Corsi-for drop from 49.9 in 2018-19 down to 45.4 last season.
Were the troubles of last season just too much for Sissons to overcome? Or was he bitten by the new contract bug that sometimes affects players after re-signing with a team for more money?
We may never know the answers to these questions, but one thing is clear, Sissons can’t have a repeat of last year. More will be expected of him, especially if he does wind up on Duchene’s line.
Sissons still has time in his career to take a big leap forward, and this upcoming season is the perfect time to do it. He’s always brought value as a defensive forward and in the faceoff circle. But more is needed if he’s going to move up the depth chart for a team that’s gotten younger around him.
The hope of Predators fans everywhere is that the players who remain on the roster are fed up with the issues that they faced last season. Sissons, along with the other players who struggled, will undoubtedly have to have banner seasons if the Predators hope to have any impact in their conference, let alone the playoffs.