2013 Preview: Minnesota Swarm

SwarmI don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the 2012 Swarm season went beyond any but the most optimistic expectations. I picked them to finish last in the West last year (as did others), but a third-place prediction wouldn’t have been completely crazy. But third best offense in the league? Two rookie goaltenders, one of whom ends up with the best GAA and save percentage in the league? Third best defense in the league? Taking out the mighty Colorado Mammoth in the playoffs? Did not see that coming.

Roster changes

I was going to describe the roster changes as “nothing huge”, but Richard Morgan is huge. He’s off to Colorado, Kevin Ross to Philly, and Brendan Doran to Buffalo. But the most important changes aren’t who’s gone, but who’s arriving. The Swarm had the number 2, 3, and 4 picks in the draft, and all three are expected to be on the floor (at some point – Brock Sorensen starts the year on the IR) for Minnesota this year. Sorensen, one of the most coveted players in the draft, is a big defender, Kiel Matisz (I believe that’s pronounced like “Kyle muh-TEES” – pronunciation is important to me) is a big forward, and Shayne Jackson is not a big forward – at 5’9″ he’s eight inches shorter than Matisz or Sorensen – but if you send your big Rich Morgan-type defenders out to cover Matisz, Jackson will just run between their legs.

I wonder if now that teams have had a full season’s look at Evan Kirk, some might have figured him out, at least to some extent. Is he headed for the dreaded sophomore slump? Maybe, but having Tyler Carlson as a #1a goaltender makes that less critical. If they both struggle the Swarm may have trouble, but they have both shown they can start in the NLL. It’s hard to predict that Kirk will have a better season than 2012 (best GAA and best save % among goalies with >150 minutes), but even a small drop would still leave Minnesota with possibly the best goalie combo in the league – if Kirk’s GAA was 15% higher than it was, he’d still be in the top 5.

Burning question

Did the 2012 Swarm overachieve, or are they really that good?

Prediction

I think they are. And if their new crop of rookies perform as well as last year’s crop, 2012 might have been the first of a number of great seasons for the Swarm. Second in the west.

Haiku

Surprisingly good
Rookies did the job last year
Still getting better

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