Explaining Colton Sissons’ Offensive Outburst for Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) shoots and scores during the first period against the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) shoots and scores during the first period against the Vancouver Canucks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Colton Sissons has been on an offensive heater to open 2023-24, leading the Nashville Predators in goals. But what’s behind this outburst?

Sissons has never been known for his offense in his Nashville Predators career, but he sits as the team’s top goal scorer after nine games.

It took Sissons until game No.36 of 2022-23 for him to score his fifth goal. In fact, he didn’t even score his first goal of the season until mid-December. So what’s changed, if anything?

When Head Coach Andrew Brunette took over, we figured that some players were going to see a spike in their offensive numbers. Was Sissons one of those players? Probably not.

Sissons just began his 10th NHL season and is about to hit 30-years-old. He’s always been a two-way workhorse who wins faceoffs, plays defense and occasionally gets your a clutch goal. But the Predators have been getting some bonus offense from Sissons through the first nine games.

Nashville Predators Goal Leaders After 9 Games

  1. Colton Sissons- 5
  2. Ryan O’Reilly- 4
  3. Tommy Novak- 4
  4. Kiefer Sherwood- 2
  5. Juuso Parssinen- 2
  6. Cole Smith- 2

What’s Behind the Early Offensive Outburst from Sissons?

In Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks

, Sissons managed to find the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1 by staying aggressive and finding a spot close in on the net to find a loose puck. He buries it while

Thatcher Demko

, who has been very difficult to beat in 2023-24, was down and out.

Simply speaking, Sissons is just making the most of his chances. Nothing too flashy, just being a smart player with high hockey IQ.

Sissons is still very much in his prime, and it’s not completely unheard of for a player to find their offensive peak later in their NHL career. His career high for goals in a season is 15 set back in 2018-19, also when he set a career high in shots on goal with 197.

If you look at Sissons’ career average for shots on goal per game, he’s barely above one shot per game. His career high season of 15 goals he averaged 2.62 SOG per game, and he’s got 18 SOG in nine games this season.

Brunette’s system preaches more offensive aggression and pushing the puck in transition. With that Sissons should continue to benefit from playing in Brunette’s system, so it’s completely fathomable that he could be in store for a career high year in goals.

In the past when playing for Head Coach John Hynes, Sissons was not relied upon offensively at all. He was a prototypical bottom six role player looking to be leaned on more for his defense.

Can Sissons Keep this up for the Nashville Predators?

With the understanding that it’s a small sample size, the trend at least suggests that Sissons is being used much more on the offensive end with Brunette now in charge.

Sissons’ Offensive Zone Start % is at 34 percent, while his Defensive Zone Start % of 66 percent is lower than his career average. Sissons never hit above 30 percent in his Offensive Zone Start % while Hynes was the head coach.

For comparison, a player like Forsberg’s Offensive Zone Start % is usually all the way up around 70 percent. So even though Sissons isn’t a heavily used offensive player even under Brunette, he has been used more in that capacity.

Although Sissons was moved back to the bottom six as the third line center in the loss to the Canucks on Tuesday, Sissons has also seen time on the second line. Brunette is still moving all of the pieces around with a starting lineup that is full of questions on who should go where.

The most glaring statistic from Sissons’ offensive outburst is his shooting percentage. On just 18 SOG he has five goals. Very efficient, but it’s not as if he’s flying all around the ice creating all of these offensive chances. He’s just making the most of when he does have chances and actually finishing.

“I thought we did a lot of good things throughout the game at different points, but we certainly needed some more of what we came up with in the third, down a couple of goals and really pushing the pace and playing hard.”– Colton Sissons to the Team’s Website on Pushing the Pace

So to answer the question of “Can Sissons keep this up”, it’s really hard to say. One side says that he can because he’s finally being used more as an offensive weapon with Brunette in charge, but another side suggests that it’s still way too small of a sample size to feel super confident.

If I’m placing a bet on Sissons finishing over or under his 15-goal career high, I’d lean towards taking the over. Only because I can see Brunette’s system benefiting a veteran like Sissons who we easily forget does have some offensive skill.

This coaching staff definitely needs to continue to find ways to get Sissons more involved in the offense than he was used by the previous coaching staff.

One thing I will say for certain is Sissons is locked in, and a consummate professional. While we’re waiting for Filip Forsberg to find his hot streak on the offensive end and starting finishing with actual goals, it is nice to have Sissons with some bonus offense.

Ultimately the Predators need Forsberg to be that 30 to 40-goal scorer, and he’s just not that right now. That’s a story for another day.

Among active players for the Nashville Predators, only Forsberg (625) and Roman Josi (836) have more career games for the franchise than Sissons, who is at 546 NHL games.