After locking up a top-six centre to a maximum-term free-agent contract with the addition of Matt Duchene, the Nashville Predators have invested matching term in a player that will support through the middle of their depth chart.
Colton Sissons has reportedly signed a seven-year, $20 million contract extension that tracks to keep him in Nashville through the 2025-26 NHL season, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
While it includes both more term and more annual salary, it draws comparison to the rather uniquely structured contract Predators GM David Poile brokered in 2016 with Calle Jarnkrok, another clear bottom-six forward in Nashville.
In fact, the two deals spearheaded by the Poile management team are really without further comparison.
Via @CapFriendly, there are only two NHL players whose contracts are at least six years in length with a cap hit of $3 million or less:— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) July 23, 2019
1. Calle Jarnkrok (6 years x $2 million)
2. Colton Sissons (7 years x $2.85 million)
Both the Sissons and Jarnkrok deals buck conventional wisdom on multiple fronts. Teams simply do not invest significant term in role players, be it in the bottom six or with depth defensive pairings. But at the same time, lesser players are seldom willing to forfeit the chance of strengthening their earning threshold by agreeing to a fixed income over a long period of time.
Because so much can happen between now and when the deal expires, there’s a strong possibility that we look back on this deal as one that favours one side clearly over the other. For a player to produce in line with their value is rare, even when variance is spread across a seven-season sample.
What’s interesting is that Jarnkrok, now entering his fourth season on the six-year agreement he signed at $2 million a pop, could wind up to be priced correctly. Jarnkrok’s production tumbling down to 10 goals and 26 points after averaging 15 goals and 30 points in the first two years of the agreement, his trajectory has him on pace to produce between 25 and 30 points through the life of the contract.
More money might be available intermittently on the open market, but a depth scorer with reliably plus defensive numbers shouldn’t be worth too much more than a couple million a season. Plus Jarnkrok has the luxury of staying with one of the preferred NHL markets.
What might be different between the two deals is that it seems that the Predators have earmarked the 25-year-old Sissons for growth in his game. Reaching career highs with 15 goals and 30 points last season, a failure to build on his production totals, however effective he remains defensively, could call into question the return on the Predators’ $2.86 million annual investment.
In theory, the salary cap should rise, which should work in favour of Sissons’ contract holding up. But with the direction the league is heading from a financial standpoint, more rope hasn’t to this point excused the signing of bad contracts. It likely never will.
For now, the Predators have five NHL centres signed, and it’s Sissons scheduled to earn the least between them. While it’s not imperative that he receives top-nine minutes at his current value, and the fourth-line position could suit him fine, either Kyle Turris or Nick Bonino could potentially be on the move to clear out the surplus at the position behind Duchene and Ryan Johansen.
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