It’s early January, and you know what that means! NLL prediction season has begun! It’s that time of year that we lacrosse bloggers start making their predictions about what’s going to happen in the upcoming year. I’ll take a look at the overall standings and the major awards. I’m not doing playoff predictions right now, I’ll leave that the end of the regular season.
Toronto won the Championship last year with a strong offense, which only got stronger with the addition of Dan Carey and Josh Sanderson. Matt Roik has some pretty big shoes to fill, but as I said in my NLL East division preview, he doesn’t have to be outstanding for the Rock to be successful. Buffalo had some off-years from Kelusky, Steenhuis, and Tavares in 2011, so if they can rebound and Thompson is healthy, they will give the Rock a run for their money. Philly improved substantially with Dawson and Merrill, and I think Rochester’s young guys might need a year before they are a strong team, but look out for them next season.
Calgary added Shawn Evans to an already strong offense, and has all the tools to win the west again. Washington is always dangerous, and Edmonton is likely the most improved team in the league. Colorado got better where they were strong (defense) and weaker where they were weak (offense), and while Minnesota still has Ryan Benesch, Callum Crawford, and an excellent goaltender tandem, they’re essentially in rebuilding mode.
MVP: Dan Dawson. I think he has the talent to turn Philly’s offense around and win his second MVP title. I also seriously considered Stephan Leblanc.
Goaltender of the Year: Mike Thompson
Defensive Player of the Year: Kyle Rubisch
Transition Player of the Year: Paul Rabil
Rookie of the Year: Kevin Crowley. Not exactly a go-out-on-a-limb pick, but he was chosen first overall for a reason, and will fit in nicely with the other giants on the Philly offense: Dawson and Westervelt.
GM of the Year: Derek Keenan for overhauling the Rush and turning them from last place in the west to serious contender.
Les Bartley Award: Darris Kilgour because he’s been one of the top coaches in the league for a decade and has only won the award once.