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Stanley Cup Preview: Getting to Know Colton Sissons

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After injury to Ryan Johansen, the 1st line center for the Nashville Predators is now Colton Sissons. Which brings up the next natural question - who the hell is Colton Sissons?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I like hockey and watch a lot of it. If you're here reading this, it's probably on Memorial Day weekend so chances are you're just as obsessed about enjoying the game and staying in touch for as much as possible. And if you're like me you've probably heard the name "Colton Sissons" in passing a little bit here and there, but couldn't pick him out of a police lineup.

When Ryan Johansen went down with a thigh injury, Sissons was thrust to the Predators first line, along side their two remaining top scorers from the regular season in Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg. That certainly caught some attention, as did Sisson's hat trick in Game 6 vs Anaheim to help Nashville seal the deal and win the series. Here's his highlight reel for that game

I would hope Matt Murray could stop a few of those shots, but the point remains that good players find ways to elevate and score. Sissons got a big promotion and he came through in a huge way. So he gets the first profile in the series of players to know for the Penguins vs. Predators Stanley Cup Final series.

Name: Colton Sissons

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 200 lbs

Born: November 4th, 1993 (23 years old)

Drafted: Nashville 2nd round (50th overall) in 2012

2016-17 stat line: 58 games played, 8 goals, 2 assists, 12 penalty minutes

2017 playoff stat line: 16 GP, 5G, 5A, 6 PIMs (t-2nd on team in goals, t-4 in points)

2016-17 stats vs Penguins: 1 GP, 0G, 0A, 0 SOGs

2016-17 5v5 Advanced Stats: 43.7 CF%, -6.6% Corsi Relative, 104.1 PDO

Player detail (via The Hockey News Player Page)

Scouting Report

Assets:
Is a very hard worker and strong competitor. Is somewhat of a scorer at lower levels, and boasts a solid 6-1 frame. Displays some two-way ability. Can play all three forward positions in the NHL.
Flaws:
Could stand to add more strength in order to enjoy a lengthy NHL career. Must also find his niche in the big league. May be a somewhat limited producer (and a role player) at the highest level.
Career Potential:
Versatile forward with a little upside.


HERO Chart (via Dominic Galamini)

Temporarily unavailable :( However given point rates, they would not be very good offensively and his shots against were very high as well.


2016-17 Nashville Predators player usage, via Corsica Hockey

nshusage527

Analysis: In this his first full season spent totally in the NHL, Sissons was pretty much forgettable up until about a week ago. He produced very little offensively with just 10 points in 58 games (and an atrocious 0.83 points/60) that put him near the bottom of his team for all advanced metrics with regards to points. Recording only 2 assists in a long season seems to shoot up red flags about playmaking ability as well.

Defensively, however, different story. Nashville only conceded 1.14 GA/60 while Sissons was on the ice (tops on the team among forwards) and his GF% was a very strong 63.3%. (Much of this has to do with an unreal 96.1 save% leading to a high PDO, factors he doesn't control much on). Still, by hook or crook, the puck was usually going in the right net for the Preds when it was going in a net at all when Sissons was on the ice.

With just 42 shots on goal in 58 reg season games (and only 14 SOG in 16 playoff games) Sissons seems like a very unlikely candidate to be having a post-season success story. Yet, to this point he is, despite not shooting very much or demonstrating much hands/vision in the regular season, he's upped his game significantly while pressed into a bigger role. Sissons was playing 13:42 a game prior to Johansen's injury, but in the 2 games without Johansen, Sissons has played 16:35 and 19:24, and scored 4 points in those two games.

Most Common Line Mates: In the regular season Sissons (578 total 5v5 minutes) usually had Austin Watson (337 together) as a winger but the 3rd member of that line was oft-changing.

Why you should know who he is: Well, he's about their top center left and probably going to be matching up against Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby a lot. The advanced stats and experience level indicate a big edge in that matchup for the Pens. However, if Sissons is playing with the most talented players in Forsberg+Arvidssson for an extended time and if he can get them the puck that could go a long way towards shifting the series in Nashville's favor. If used as the 1C, Sissons' play should be fairly instrumental (one way or the other) in determining winners of some of these games.

How the Penguins can stop him: Pittsburgh will have to do what Anaheim couldn't in Game 6 and make a few saves on Sissons when he shoots. Otherwise, it should be fairly easy to limit a guy with 2 assists in 58 regular season games. Sissons best bet will be to keep the game simple and let his wingers do most the heavy lifting, so Pittsburgh's focus will and should be on guys like Forsberg and Arvidsson. Just don't let Sissons free from right in front of the net to have him slam home an easy goal and the Pens probably should be alright on this matchup.

Further reading: Check out this great advanced statistical look at Sissons recently posted at On The Forecheck. Highly recommended use of your time if you're interested in learning more about this player.