Colton Sissons must really like playing for the Nashville Predators. That’s probably the easiest conclusion to make based on the term of his new, seven-year, $20 million deal.
Sissons Gets Paid
Granted, it admittedly may not be the first impression of objective onlookers, even with regard to the abnormally large term. After all, seven years is a long time for anyone to play for a single team, especially in this day and age.
No, the first impression could very well be that the Predators overcompensated a depth guy who, up to this point, has maxed out at 30 points in a single season. Nothing could be further from the truth: The Predators affordably locked up a lifer who has proven reliable in the past and will likely stay that way over the course of the contract.
While the $20 million would be a lot of money for anyone, even the money owed to him is a sign that Sissons is remaining loyal to the club that drafted him. A second-round pick in 2012, Sissons posted relatively modest career-highs this past season in both goals (15) and points (30).
Considering he earned 27 points in 2017-18, it’s logical to assume the soon-to-be 26-year-old can post similar numbers in the future if not outdo himself. That’s where the genius of this deal truly comes into play. Sissons will be just 32 by the end of the deal, hardly a scary prospect for the Preds from a potential decline standpoint.
Sissons vs. Jarnkrok
If Sissons’ numbers continue to gradually increase, as they have in each season he has played, the Predators will potentially have a steal on their hands. Consider how some of Sissons’ closest comparables from a contract perspective are players like Adam Lowry (0.32) and Joel Armia (0.34), two players who have similar point-per-game production rates (0.29). It’s clear the Predators didn’t exactly overpay for his services.
In fact, maybe you don’t have to look too far for the closest comparable of all, with teammate Calle Jarnkrok having signed a six-year, $12 million deal back in 2016. The circumstances are eerily similar. Jarnkrok was a year younger at the time of the signing, but he was also coming off his first career 30-point season. Three seasons in Jarnkrok has hit the plateau twice more and is far from a disappointment.
Of course Sissons is a different player and there’s no telling how he’ll react to the pressure of a higher cap hit, both relative to his previous one ($635,000) and what Jarnkrok is making on average ($2 million). That’s in part as a result of inflation and it’s also why the deal further benefits the Predators. What Sissons is gaining in job security, he’s arguably giving up in future earnings. His new $2.9 million cap hit may seem just okay right now for a depth guy. By the time Sissons would have become an unrestricted free agent without the deal, he likely would be making much more.
Sissons vs. Tanev
Convention admittedly dictates not to give term to your bottom-six forwards. That’s why the contract the Pittsburgh Penguins doled out to Brandon Tanev was so widely panned. The Sissons deal nevertheless compares favorably to it, and not just with regard to the average annual value ($3.5 million for Tanev). Even though Tanev’s deal is “just” six years in length, he’ll also be a year older than Sissons will by the end of their respective deals.
Plus, Predators general manager David Poile already knows Sissons is a good fit. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is hoping Tanev will be, without him having actually reached 30 points in a season yet. At least Sissons has. Furthermore, as Sissons has proven in the past, the defensive-minded center and penalty-kill specialist can play up and down the lineup if needed, like he did when replacing the struggling Kyle Turris in the top six.
Turris serves as proof Poile is far from infallible. It would be easy to argue so does Matt Duchene, but the jury is obviously still out on that one. The common thread tying all of them together is how Poile is clearly unafraid to commit when he believes the player he’s after will help his team. There should be no doubt Sissons falls into that category. He may have just signed for the next seven seasons, but that’s actually how long he’s been with the organization already. Why mess with a good thing?
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.