Today, we're going to take a look at a prospect that emerged seemingly out of nowhere during recent months to earn himself a spot on NHL Central Scouting's rankings, Colby Sissons. This young, lanky defender is coming off of a strong rookie season with Swift Current in the WHL, in which he worked his way up the depth chart and into a consistent role. Let's take a closer look to get to know his game better.
Who is Colby Sissons?
Colby Sissons was born on January 15, 1998 making him 18 years old. The WHL website list the left handed defenseman at 6'2, 176 lbs. EliteProspects notes Lacombe, Alberta as his birthplace and as you can see from the stats below, Sissons has worked his way up through the Alberta youth leagues to Swift Current of the WHL.
In 2011-12, Sissons was tied for the team lead in defensemen scoring on the Lacombe Rockets Bantam AA squad with a goal and team high 23 assists in 31 games. The following season he advanced to the Red Deer Rebels White Bantam AAA team where he was once again one of the top producers from the blue line with 6 goals and 7 assists in 33 games. In 2013-14, Sissons moved on to play for the South Side Athletic Club (SSAC). He spent most of the year with their Minor Midget AAA team as the top scoring defensemen on the team and 6th in the league with 9 goals and 22 assists in 37 games. He even earned an appearance for the Midget AAA team. In 2014-15, as a full member of the Midget AAA team he put up 7 goals and 10 assists in 33 games.
His strong play for SSAC earned him a WHL contract with the Swift Current Broncos in August of 2014. He made his first WHL appearances in December of 2014. 2015-16 would mark his first season with the Broncos in which he put up 3 goals and 19 assists in 71 games on a rebuilding Swift Current team.
Where is Sissons Ranked?
In terms of publicly available rankings, only the NHL Central Scouting Rankings go back far enough to show Sissons. They have him ranked 140th among North American skaters. You may be thinking, so what? One thing that is interesting about his final ranking is that fact that he wasn't even ranked on the midterm list. Sissons is a very raw prospect but certainly seems to be on the rise.
What Others Say About Colby Sissons
Since Sissons wasn't on the draft radar coming into the season, there isn't a whole lot on him. I was able to find a couple of interesting articles, starting with this piece from John MacNeil for the Lacombe Globe. This article from late January discusses how Sissons has earned himself attention from NHL scouts and includes quotes from his coach at Swift Current, Mark Lamb, as well as himself.
"He’s progressing," Lamb said of Sissons. "He started out slow, which a lot of young kids do. Now, he’s a top-four D for us, playing the power play. He’s a skilled kid weighted to the offensive side, but he’s learning to play in his own end a lot better.
The six-foot-two, 185-pound Sissons, who turned 18 on Jan. 15, has size, smarts and skating ability on his side, and he’s still a growing boy.
"He’s going to fill out — he’s going to be a decent-size kid," Lamb said. "Some of the stuff that he can do offensively is natural talent. And that’s what the scouts are seeing right now.
"He didn’t play power play at the start (of the season). Now, he’s getting on the power play and he’s playing a regular shift. He’s getting lots of minutes and lots of experience."
Sissons is a raw prospect when it comes to both his game and his frame. Reading the article it's nice to see that he's worked his way up the depth chart at even strength and has taken full advantage of the power play opportunity he's earned. I'm also interested in seeing how he fills out his frame over the next few years to handle tougher competition. The article also mentioned that he's only been focusing on hockey exclusively for the past few years as he also grew up playing baseball.
Next we have Kyle Woodlief of USA Today who wrote his thoughts on Sissons back in February.
One player in the Dub who has caught our attention rather unexpectedly is first-year Swift Current defenseman Colby Sissons (one goal, 14 points). With a beanpole frame, he is all upside. But in a year where bigger defenders are a hard commodity to come by out west, he is already appealing.
The late bloomer completely lacks any leg muscles, yet still has a surprisingly smooth stride. He has caught our attention in several recent viewings with his constantly well-timed pinches, and he’s not afraid to handle and rush the puck. Sissons is a smart decision-maker with a solid first pass, and he is someone who could be a real late riser in the season’s final months.
I certainly find it interesting that a player that needs to put on more muscle, especially in his legs, is already a smooth skater. Based on this description it seems like he has solid natural offensive instincts and talent. The big question seems to be, will his defensive game develop enough?
A Little Video
With a lack of videos out there on Sissons, I decided to post the highlights from Swift Current's 3/18/16 game against Regina, where Sissons put up a goal and 2 assists.
Starting at the 1:35 mark of the video, we see Sissons (#2) manning the point on the PP. He plays catch with the eventual goal scorer Artyom Minulin to keep the defense off balance and goaltender moving. The next action he takes part in is at the 2:49 mark. Here we see Sissons able to keep the puck in the offensive zone on a clearing attempt by the defense. He quickly fires it on net, keeping it low enough and hard enough for Calvin Spencer to deflect past the goaltender. Finally, we get to his goal around the 2:57 mark. Here we see Sissons join the rush, go straight to the net, and then quickly get back into position after the shot is stopped. He alertly keeps his head up and intercepts an errant pass. Without hesitation he wrists a shot on goal, utilizing a man in front to screen the goaltender. While it's not the prettiest goal, the whole play does show his compete level and offensive instincts.
An Opinion of Sorts
When it comes to the later rounds, you're always going to be choosing from prospects whose skills sets are incomplete. Colby Sissons is no different. I think there is a lot to like about him, such as his natural offensive instincts, smooth skating, and raw frame that he will likely fill out. I do have some concerns about him though. Will he be able to develop his defensive game, both mentally and physically? Will he be able to handle stronger competition if he makes it pro? Was his productive 2nd half (2 goals, 16 assists in 35 games since 1/1/16) reflective of a hot streak and increased PP time? Or is that closer to his true talent level? I wouldn't complain if the Devils grabbed him in the 6th or 7th rounds but given the questions I have about his overall game, I think anything sooner may be reaching a bit. Regardless, I have to give Sissons a lot of praise for going from off the map to a possible selection at the NHL Draft.
Do you have any interest in a project pick like Sissons? Does his lack of muscle and major junior experience relative to a lot of his peers concern you? Do you believe he has solid upside? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!