2015 Predictions revisited

As many sports bloggers do, I made predictions at the beginning of the season. But as many sports bloggers don’t do, I’m going to go back and see what they were and how I did. I covered some of these on last week’s Addicted to Lacrosse show. I recently had to submit my votes for the IL Indoor annual awards, so for each of the awards below, I’ve listed my pre-season prediction as well as my post-season votes.

Standings:

East

  1. Rochester
  2. Buffalo
  3. Toronto
  4. Minnesota
  5. New England

West

  1. Calgary
  2. Edmonton
  3. Colorado
  4. Vancouver

Three correct out of nine. I wasn’t nearly as optimistic with the Rock as I should have been. I was also far too optimistic with the Roughnecks, but so was everybody else.

Annual Awards

MVP

Prediction: Dan Dawson, Cody Jamieson, Ryan Benesch
Vote: Shawn Evans, Mark Matthews, Ryan Benesch

Jamieson and Dawson had very good years, but not MVP-worthy. Benesch was great, especially down the stretch. But Evans was outstanding.

Goaltender of the Year

Prediction: Aaron Bold, Matt Vinc, Mike Poulin
Vote: Matt Vinc, Aaron Bold, Frankie Scigliano

No surprises from the first two, and I really struggled to decide who got the top vote. And I got the wrong Calgary goalie.

Defensive Player of the Year

Prediction: Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, Brock Sorensen
Vote: Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, Sid Smith

I did vote Sorensen fourth.

Transition Player of the Year

Prediction: Jeremy Thompson, Geoff Snider, Karsen Leung, Jordan Hall
Vote: Joey Cupido, Karsen Leung, Jay Thorimbert

Hall didn’t play transition this year, and Thompson had another very good season but Cupido stole the show.

Ben McIntoshRookie of the Year

Prediction: Miles Thompson, Ben McIntosh, Chris Attwood
Vote: Ben McIntosh, Jeremy Noble, Miles Thompson

Attwood didn’t even make the Knighthawks, so that was totally wrong. Miles Thompson had a good rookie season but McIntosh was better. Didn’t have Noble on the list at the beginning since it seemed unlikely he’d play at all.

Les Bartley Award

Prediction: Curt Malawsky, Mike Hasen, Troy Cordingley, John Lovell
Vote: Derek Keenan, Mike Hasen, Curt Malawsky, John Lovell, Troy Cordingley

No idea how I missed Keenan at the beginning of the year.

GM of the Year

Prediction: Terry Sanderson, Curt Styres, Steve Govett, Chris Seinko
Vote: Terry Sanderson, Curt Styres, Steve Govett, Derek Keenan.

Nailed the top three on this one. I even voted Seinko fifth since I thought he did pretty well at the trade deadline. Getting Billings, one of the top two players in the league over the last few seasons, for Crowley was a good deal and grabbing Suitor from the Swarm was good too. It was just too late in the season to turn things around, and the fact that Suitor got hurt again didn’t help.

Team predictions – East

For each team, I made a “Look out for” prediction – a player who I thought would have a great season. Some of them I nailed, others I didn’t quite get right, and in one case, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Dhane Smith (Photo: Larry Palumbo)Buffalo: Dhane Smith. Nailed this one. Smith went from 59 points in 18 games last year to 107 this year.

Minnesota: Miles Thompson. Not a bad choice, though Shayne Jackson might have been a better one.

New England: Kevin Buchanan. Again, not a bad season. Pat Saunders would have been the breakout player for the Black Wolves.

Rochester: Chris Attwood. Didn’t even make the team. We’ll call that a “miss”. I don’t know who I’d pick from the Knighthawks as having had a breakout season since everyone on the team played at or near what I expected. Maybe Craig Point, since he hadn’t played 15 games in a season since 2011.

Toronto: Brock Sorensen. I thought Sorensen had a very solid year with the Rock and even put him on my list for Defender of the Year. But you might be able to make an argument for Brett Hickey here.

Team predictions – West

Calgary: Karsen Leung. I thought Leung had another solid season and I voted for him as Transition player of the year. But for a breakout season, I’d have to go with Frankie Scigliano, who grabbed the starting goalie job from the struggling Mike Poulin a few weeks into the season and never gave it back.

Colorado: Dillon Ward. Ward didn’t have a great season, but good enough to grab second in the west. Breakout player on the Mammoth would be Jeremy Noble, Eli McLaughlin, or Alex Buque.

Edmonton: Corey Small. Mostly right, except for the team. Small only lasted 2 games with the Rush before being traded to the Stealth, where he had his best season ever. For the Rush, a better choice would have been Zack Greer, who beat his career best points/game average by almost a full point.

Vancouver: Joel McCready. Nailed it. I even said the Powless experiment wouldn’t be the huge success the Stealth were hoping for. We’ll call that a 2-for-1, which offsets the Rochester failure.

Six degrees of Kevin Buchanan

A recent conversation about how small the lacrosse world is got me thinking, and I came up with a fun game which I call “Six degrees of Kevin Buchanan”.

The idea is to pick two players A and B, and make a chain of players starting from A and ending with B. Every player in the chain must have played on the same team at the same time as the player before and after him. Unlike the Kevin Bacon game, you don’t actually have to include Kevin Buchanan – if that was the case, I might have picked Mat Giles (12 NLL teams) or Chris Panos (10) rather than Buchanan (5). But their names don’t sound nearly as much like “Kevin Bacon”.

I’ve stretched the rules a touch: if two players played for the same team in the same season, I’m calling that a link. This is only because I don’t have sufficiently accurate data so in some cases (anything before 2005) I don’t know if they actually both played on the same team at the same time – for all I know, one might have been traded for the other in a mid-season deal.

As an example, let’s pick the player with the coolest name in NLL history: Mikko Red Arrow, who played with the New York Saints from 1993 to 1996. We’ll try and match him up with one of the youngest players in the league, Rob Hellyer.

Mikko Red Arrow –> Rob Hellyer

  1. Mikko Red Arrow played with Pat O’Toole on the New York Saints in 1995.
  2. O’Toole played with Josh Sanderson on the Knighthawks in 1999.
  3. Sanderson has played with Rob Hellyer on the Rock from 2012-2015.

So Hellyer is three links away from Red Arrow.

Let’s go back even further, to 1992 and another player with a cool name, Butch Marino. I had never heard of him before this exercise, and picked him at random. He played from 1992-1994 and again in 1996. The target this time is another young player picked at random, Miles Thompson of the Swarm.

Butch Marino –> Miles Thompson

  1. Butch Marino played with Chris Gill on the Baltimore Thunder in 1996.
  2. Gill played with Colin Doyle on the Toronto Rock from 1999-2001.
  3. Doyle played with Ethan O’Connor on the Rock in 2014.
  4. O’Connor plays with Miles Thompson on the Swarm in 2015.

Thompson is four links away from Marino. Note that this is the shortest list I found while just looking over team lists and going by memory. There may be shorter ones.

Here’s one more, starting from Brian Lemon, the current NLL VP of Lacrosse Operations. Let’s try and link him to Edmonton goalie Aaron Bold.

Brian Lemon –> Aaron Bold

  1. Brian Lemon played with Kevin Finneran on the 1992 Detroit Turbos.
  2. Finneran played with Dave Stilley on the 2002 Philadelphia Wings.
  3. Stilley played with Gavin Prout on the 2006 Mammoth.
  4. Prout played with Corey Small on the 2010 Rush.
  5. Small played with Aaron Bold on the 2013 Rush.

So Bold is five links away from Lemon. But there’s a faster way:

  1. Brian Lemon played with Randy Mearns on the 1995 Knighthawks.
  2. Mearns played with John Tavares on the 1993 Bandits.
  3. Tavares played with Jeremy Thompson on the 2012 Bandits.
  4. Thompson has played with Aaron Bold on the Rush since 2013.

Of course, anyone who’s ever played for the Bandits is at most 2 links away from anyone else who’s ever played for the Bandits, since they both played with John Tavares. In addition to JT, there are players like Shawn Williams, Colin Doyle, and Josh Sanderson who have had very long careers with multiple teams and allow you to jump 10-15 years in one step. Thanks to guys like them, I’d be surprised if anyone who’s ever played in the NLL is more than five links away from anyone else. In fact, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a player who has never played with a former Bandit and given Mr. Tavares’s longevity, I imagine that finding two players with a count no lower than five is almost impossible.

Hey Kevin, what do you think of this game?

Any other pairs of players you want linked? Do you know of shorter chains than the ones I have above? Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter!