The Nashville Predators announced today that they have signed Colton Sissons to a new contract. With this signing, the Predators and Sissons avoid arbitration, which was scheduled later this week.

The new contract is worth $20 million over seven years, breaking down to about $2.85 million per year. The contract was originally reported by Elliotte Friedman, then later confirmed with a press release by the Predators.

By all accounts, this is a good deal. Sissons is a versatile forward who can play wing and center. He does it all, logging plenty of minutes on the penalty kill and the power play over the last couple seasons. Two years ago, he even stepped in to play first line center for the Predators after Ryan Johansen went out with injury in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This value of the contract is also about what most folks expected for Sissons as a restricted free agent. Evolving Hockey predicted his contract at around $3 million per year and about three years total. I predicted a two year, $6 million contract a few weeks ago.

Getting a versatile, middle-six forward with playoff experience and a great track record in Laviolette’s sytem at only $2.8 million per year for seven years?

That’s a great deal.

However, the one surprising number in this contract is the term. Not many folks predicted he would get a seven year deal, or even much more than two or three years.

Which leads to the one downside of this contract.

Expansion Draft Looming

It’s possible that the Predators might have signed Colton Sissons for too much term. Not because he might over-stay his welcome in Nashville, but because another expansion team might take him before the contract runs out.

Don’t forget that the Seattle expansion draft is quickly approaching. We don’t know for sure when the expansion draft will take place , but in hiring GM Ron Francis last week, it’s safe to say it might be 2021 rather than later.

If the draft is in 2021, the Predators will have the following players under contract and in need of protection:

  • Colton Sissons (signed thru 2026)
  • Matt Duchene (signed thru 2026)
  • Ryan Ellis (signed thru 2026)
  • Ryan Johansen (signed thru 2025)
  • Kyle Turris (signed thru 2024)
  • Viktor Arvidsson (signed thru 2024)
  • Filip Forsberg (signed thru 2022)
  • Mattias Ekholm (signed thru 2022)

In addition to those eight skaters, there’s Roman Josi (who is likely to sign an extension any day now) and Dante Fabbro (who seems likely to land a top four job for the foreseeable future, with P.K. Subban now in New Jersey).

So that makes ten skaters who the Predators would need to protect, less they risk exposing them to Seattle. Looking at the list, I don’t think Colton Sissons would get the nod over any of them, save for perhaps Kyle Turris (though that depends on whether Turris can bounce back from last year’s disappointing, injury-riddled season).

With all that being said, it seems likely that Colton Sissons would be the odd man out and would be exposed during Seattle expansion. And while we don’t know what kind of team Seattle will be looking to build, they would probably have a hard time passing on such a reliable foundation to their center rotation at such a cheap cost.

Predators History Repeats Itself?

Of course, this is almost exactly the same situation David Poile found himself in when he signed Calle Jarnkrok to a six-year deal worth $12 million back in 2016. Poile knew that Vegas expansion was around the corner and still signed Jarnkrok to a long-term, value deal. And he doubled down on that value when he protected Jarnkrok in 2017, instead of James Neal.

One possibility would be for the Predators to choose the “7 forwards, 3 defensemen” protection option. This would leave room to protect Sissons, but at the expense of exposing either Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, or Dante Fabbro.

Yes, it’s very early to be prognosticating on who the Predators will be protecting in an expansion draft that has not yet officially been announced. But whenever long term contracts are signed, long term decisions become more relevant.

Over the next couple years, we will have a burning question in the back of our minds. Did David Poile ostensibly sign Colton Sissons to a great value contract for the Seattle expansion team with this contract?

— Featured image via Steve Roberts/USA TODAY Sports —
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