Weight: 189 lbs.
Hometown: Vancouver, BC
With just three days to go 'till the big day and still some more names to sift through in terms of potential Flames picks (assuming they don't do something drastic), I thought it might be time to check out some more WHL talent in the form of Colton Sissons.
Sissons appeared in his second season with the Kelowna Rockets in 2011-12, and his first as captain of the team. After turning 18 last November, however, Sissons is one of the older players available in this year's Draft, but has only two junior seasons under his belt.
He scored 26 goals and 41 points in 58 games with the Rockets this past season, good for a rate of about .71 PPG. Sissons scored 13 times with the man advantage and added eight powerplay assists to go with two shorthanded markers, which means that 24 of his points came on special teams, just over half of his total output. In the playoffs, Sissons contributed one goal and one assist before being swept by the Portland Winterhawks in four straight.
Although not quite as large as Brendan Gauce, evaluations of Sissons sound very similar in some areas to the ones I reviewed when profiling Gaunce. LIke the Belleville Bulls centre, Sissons is described as a two-way forward with defensive prowess, but there are some doubts surrounding his ability to maintain his offensive production at the next level. From Buzzing the Net (via The Backhand Shelf):
At 6-foot-1 and 189 pounds, he showed he could finish off plays in tight space, although he likely will need to show a greater array of ways he can chip in on the offensive end — such as scoring off the rush or setting up teammates. There isn't much question with his defensive instincts. It goes without saying that improving his skating could cause him to really break out next fall, when he enters his age-19 season.
Sissons has been projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the early second round, and where he lands could depend on the various interpretations of certain aspects of his game--from his offensive capabilities and his skating to his role on the team.
From Last Word on Sports:
...We have often seen Sissons used in a matchup type of role where he is expected to both play against the other teams’ top line, and bring his much needed offence to the Rockets’ attack.
Sissons biggest weakness is his skating. His stride is unorthodox. His top end speed is average, maybe even a hair above average, but its nothing to write home about. His agility needs work, and he could also stand to develop a quicker first step and better acceleration. This is what has made the difference between Sissons being ranked as first round talent and falling to the 2nd round on our draft rankings.
...Sissons moves at a fine level showing solid speed; he looks technically sound and projects to certainly skate with pros. However, despite being a good skater who can distribute the puck fine, it's hard to see him creating a whole lot of offense by himself. He isn't the most gifted puckhandler or creative player. Sissons has fine hockey sense, though, and makes a lot of decent plays but doesn't overly impress when it comes to scoring chance creation
He is a pretty gritty player who does a lot of good work along the boards, plays a nice power game and has a pretty bulky frame that should translate to the pro game well in two years. While I haven't really seen him shoot that much, WHL scouts I've talked are impressed with his finishing ability.
Corey Pronman projects Sissons to go in the third round, and estimates him to be more of bottom-six grinder rather than a top offensive contributor. That is not to say he has no value--players like that, provided they can skate, chip in occasionally, and spend more time on the ice than they do in the penalty box are always useful at the NHL level--but I'm not sure he has much value for the Flames at this time.
The Flames have been notorious, until rather recently, for drafting and developing this kind of talent, which is perhaps a skill in its own right. It can be incredibly difficult to get your hands on capable bottom sixers, and the Flames have both excelled and failed in this department since the last NHL lockout (think signing then buying out Nigel Dawes, trading for PL3, etc.). If you can accrue these types of players for league minimum, that's even better, which is the benefit of drafting someone like Sissons. If the Flames manage to secure a second round pick ahead of this weekend's Draft of even if Sissons is still around by the time they make their third-round selection, then by all means, go for him, but not with the 14th overall pick.