2019-20 NLL Milestones

A number of player and team milestones can be reached this year, including one fairly significant one: Dan Dawson could (fairly easily, by his standards) be the all-time league leader in assists. Here’s a list of the most likely milestones to be hit:

Teams

Wins & losses

Photo credit: Micheline VeluvoluToronto’s sixth win of the season will be the franchise’s 200th. Georgia needs six and the Black Wolves need ten for 50.

Goals

The Georgia Swarm need 40 goals to reach 1000, while the Saskatchewan Rush need 60. The Mammoth need 153 goals to reach 3500 and Calgary needs 201 to reach 4000. With 87 goals, the Bandits will hit 5500, far and away the highest total for any team. The Swarm are 122 goals away from allowing 1000 all-time, and the Rock will hit 4000 goals allowed if they give up 195.

Team Leaders

With 99 points this year (a tall order, but not unimaginable), Eli McLaughlin would tie Adam Jones for 4th on the Mammoth while Jacob Ruest needs 34 to catch Sean Pollock for 11th. A 116-point season from Rob Hellyer would tie him with Stephen Leblanc for 4th on the Toronto Rock list, while 82 for Tom Schreiber ties him with Aaron Wilson for 9th.

I looked over each of the teams to see what their all-time leader board looked like, and as you might expect from a 28-year-old team, the Bandits leaders will not change significantly anytime soon. Dhane Smith is third all-time but needs around 350 points to catch Mark Steenhuis, who is almost 800 behind John Tavares. The only other active Bandit in the top 20 is Steve Priolo, who’s tied with Kevin Dostie for 19th. Priolo could pass Jim Veltman for 18th with 11 points.


Players

Goals

Player… Needs… To reach…
Rhys Duch 3 400
Curtis Dickson 5 400
Callum Crawford 43 400
Kevin Crowley 8 300
Adam Jones 18 300
Mark Matthews 25 300
Corey Small 44 300
Garrett Billings 2 200
Ben McIntosh 8 200
Johnny Powless 8 200
Rob Hellyer 10 200
Logan Schuss 28 200

  

Assists

Player… Needs… To reach…
Dan Dawson 23 900
Shawn Evans 43 800
Ryan Benesch 23 600
Rhys Duch 30 600
Jeff Shattler 8 500
Jordan Hall 23 500
Garrett Billings 32 500
Stephan Leblanc 37 500
Cody Jamieson 51 500
Dane Dobbie 52 500
Dhane Smith 19 400
Adam Jones 6 300
Robert Church 19 300
Logan Schuss 38 300
Kiel Matisz 38 300

Points

Player… Needs… To reach…
Dan Dawson 4 1400
Shawn Evans 13 1200
Ryan Benesch 90 1100
Callum Crawford 37 1000
Rhys Duch 33 1000
Dane Dobbie 34 900
Jeff Shattler 82 900
Stephan Leblanc 36 800
Curtis Dickson 78 800
Jordan Hall 85 800
Mark Matthews 95 800
Cody Jamieson 96 800
Garrett Billings 34 700
Corey Small 65 700
Dhane Smith 65 700
Kevin Crowley 85 700
Adam Jones 24 600
Shayne Jackson 77 600
Rob Hellyer 15 500
Robert Church 19 500
Brodie Merrill 47 500

  

Loose Balls

Player… Needs… To reach…
Brodie Merrill 65 2500
Jay Thorimbert 31 1600
Ian Hawksbee 35 1400
Jordan MacIntosh 6 1300
Shawn Evans 11 1300
Jeremy Thompson 26 1300
Jeff Shattler 29 1300
Jordan Hall 62 1000

  

PIM

Player… Needs… To reach…
Matt Beers 12 500
Brodie Merrill 15 500
Paul Dawson 45 500

  

Games

Player… Needs… To reach…
Dan Dawson 13 300
Paul Dawson 1 200
Ian Hawksbee 4 200
Ian Llord 9 200
Rhys Duch 16 200
Rob Hellyer 1 100
Curtis Knight 1 100
Logan Schuss 2 100
Travis Cornwall 4 100
Riley Loewen 5 100

  

Goalie Minutes

Player… Needs… To reach…
Matt Vinc 4 12000
Evan Kirk 124 6000
Frank Scigliano 297 4000

  

Goals against

Player… Needs… To reach…
Mike Poulin 33 1600
Aaron Bold 54 1500
Nick Rose 8 1200
Evan Kirk 17 1200
Dillon Ward 5 1000
Frank Scigliano 52 800

  

Saves

Player… Needs… To reach…
Matt Vinc 177 8000
Aaron Bold 166 5000
Evan Kirk 115 4000
Dillon Ward 474 4000
Frank Scigliano 507 3000

  

Leaders

This section is for players who are close to passing a retired player on the career list in a particular category.

Player… Needs… To tie… For…
Dan Dawson 18 goals Colin Doyle 4th
Ryan Benesch 7 goals Lewis Ratcliff 9th
11 goals Shawn Williams 8th
16 goals Josh Sanderson 7th
Shawn Evans is 3 behind Benesch
Dane Dobbie is 12 behind Evans
Rhys Duch 2 goals Tom Marechek 14th
13 goals Paul Gait 13th
Curtis Dickson is 2 behind Duch
Dan Dawson 21 assists Josh Sanderson 2nd
47 assists John Tavares 1st
Shawn Evans 21 assists John Grant, Jr. 5th
Callum Crawford 5 assists Gavin Prout 8th
Jeff Shattler 1 assist Jim Veltman 16th
Dan Dawson 50 points John Grant, Jr. 2nd
Ryan Benesch 3 points Mark Steenhuis 9th
Callum Crawford is 37 behind Benesch
Rhys Duch is 6 behind Crawford
Dane Dobbie 56 points Gavin Prout 14th
Mike Poulin 17 goals against Brandon Miller 8th
Mike Poulin 11 wins Anthony Cosmo 4th
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The GOAT

The Calgary Roughnecks signed Dane Dobbie to a multi-year contract last week. Considering Dobbie had a career year in 2019 and was deservedly named both season MVP and Championship MVP, it’s hard to argue against this, regardless of the term or money he was asking for. But when the NLL tweeted about it, they used a goat icon and I had to roll my eyes.

GOAT stands for Greatest Of All Time and it’s become a term that, in my opinion, is thrown around far too easily in the sports world. By definition, there can be only one GOAT in each sport. There may be controversy as to who it is, but there aren’t lots of them. I don’t think it’s a hot take to say that Dane Dobbie is not the greatest player in NLL history (despite his teammates saying he is). The hot take might be: he’s not even in the top ten. But that’s an article for another time.

Of course you can add your own qualifiers, and a player may be the GOAT of a certain subset of players. As Jake Elliott pointed out, the NLL probably meant that Dobbie is the Roughnecks GOAT, not the GOAT. That’s totally fair and Jake is quite likely right.

But that got me thinking: what about the other teams? Who is their GOAT? Some are obvious – Buffalo comes to mind – while others are more contentious.

One question we have to answer first is what do we mean by this? Is it the best player to ever wear that uniform, or is it the best player to ever have an impact in that uniform? For example, you could argue that the second Dan Dawson takes the floor as a member of the Toronto Rock this coming season, before he’s even touched the ball, he’s among the top three players ever to wear the Rock jersey. But is that meaningful?

For this article, I’m going to say that it’s not good enough to simply have worn a team’s jersey, you have to have played there for a significant amount of time. However I’m not going to define “significant” with specific guidelines (e.g. you have to have played x games or x seasons or have won some sort of major award). Just going with my gut here.

I’m going to skip the expansion Knighthawks 2.0 and Riptide for obvious reasons and also the Wings 2.0 and Seals since they have only played a single season.

Buffalo – Tough one, but I’m going to go with someone who many consider to be the GOAT of the league, if not the entire sport of box lacrosse. Of course it’s John Tavares.

Dane Dobbie (Photo credit: Greg Southam)Calgary – My “tough one” for the Bandits was obviously in jest but this really is a tough one. If you go with the “just wearing the jersey” rule, I’d put Josh Sanderson and Shawn Evans at the top of that list. Sanderson played two full seasons and part of a third and while they were outstanding seasons and included a championship, he’s more associated with the Rock. Evans is a tougher call because he played four seasons including two with 110+ points and one MVP trophy. The guy who started this whole conversation, Dane Dobbie, has played 12 seasons (all with Calgary), won two Championships, and is the incumbent MVP. Jeff Shattler was an MVP and played eleven great seasons in Calgary so he has to be considered. Kaleb Toth was never an MVP but was the quintessential Roughneck for years. What about Tracey Kelusky? Higher point averages than Shattler or Toth, and team captain for their 2009 title.

Given his longevity, I’m going with Dobbie.

Colorado – Is it John Grant or Gary Gait? Gait only played three years with the Mammoth while Grant played seven (well, six plus two games in the seventh). Interestingly, their points-per-game numbers are almost identical: Grant averaged 5.632 points per game over 98 games while Gait averaged 5.625 in 48 games. If Gait had played 98 games with the Mammoth like Grant did, he’d have 551 points. Grant has 552. Both won an MVP award with the Mammoth and neither won a Championship (Gait did as a coach), so basically, they were the same guy. Grant played twice as long in Colorado as Gait did so I’m going with Grant.

Georgia (including Minnesota) – If you just consider the four seasons in Georgia, I think the obvious choice would be Lyle Thompson. But if you include the Minnesota years, Callum Crawford and Ryan Benesch jump into the mix. They each had slightly higher points-per-game numbers than Thompson, but even at their peak, I don’t think either of them were as good overall as Thompson is.

Halifax – (as the Rochester Knighthawks) John Grant is the obvious choice because he’s one of the best players in the history of the league. But Matt Vinc has to be considered here. Grant won one Championship and an MVP award in his ten seasons with the Knighthawks. Vinc won three titles and about a hundred Goaltender of the Year awards. Grant’s dominance with the Knighthawks cannot be overlooked (he had an eight-year stretch with seven 90+ point seasons and only played five games in the eighth) but Vinc is probably the best goaltender of the last decade and definitely top three all-time. I honestly cannot decide so I’m taking the easy way out and calling it a tie.

New England* – Again Shawn Evans jumps out. He only played 2½ years in New England but averaged over six points per game in the two full seasons. Another candidate would be Kevin Crowley, who played most of four seasons with the Black Wolves. He wasn’t quite as dominant with the numbers but Crowley is great off-ball and defensively as well so his numbers don’t show how good he is. I’m going to go with Evans here.

Saskatchewan (including Edmonton) – Mark Matthews was my first thought but Kyle Rubisch is probably the better choice. Matthews has been a top-10 offensive player for his entire career (top 5 for most of it) but there was a four year period where Rubisch was hands down the best defensive player in the league, and he remains in the top three now.

Toronto – I’m going with Colin Doyle not only because he was an outstanding player (#4 in career scoring) but a great captain as well. Like Matt Vinc in Rochester, Bob Watson also needs to be considered. Josh Sanderson is right up there too, and Jim Veltman and Brodie Merrill were also great players and great captains.

Vancouver (including the entire franchise history) – I wondered about Lewis Ratcliff, Gary Rosyski, Colin Doyle, and even Josh Sanderson from the Albany Attack days. But in the end, it’s got to be Rhys Duch. Duch averaged about 5.4 points per game over ten seasons with the San Jose, Washington, and Vancouver Stealths. He led the team in goals, assists, and points in four straight seasons and was either first or second in those categories in three more. He was the face of the Stealth for a decade which is why it was so surprising that they unceremoniously released him before last season. Hey, can someone remind me who scored the OT goal that gave Calgary the 2019 Championship? I forget.

* Maybe others don’t have this problem, but I find it hard to think of the Black Wolves as a continuation of the old Philadelphia Wings. As a result, I didn’t consider Wings players for the Black Wolves GOAT, even though I did consider previous teams in the Vancouver and Georgia franchises. But the Wings were around for 28 years, so they shouldn’t be just tossed aside. For the Wings, I’d have to choose between Tom Marechek (12 years, four Championships, 773 points) and Dallas Eliuk (again, top 3 goalie of all time). Gary Gait only played five seasons in Philly but was named MVP in three of them (in a row), so he’s got to be up there too. I’m going to go with Eliuk.

Examining the 2019-2020 NLL schedule

Winter is coming.

And this is good, because winter is NLL season! The 2019-2020 NLL season begins on November 29, which is only eleven weeks from now. In fact by the time you read this, it will be less than eleven weeks from now. The league released the schedule for the upcoming season this week, just ahead of next week’s entry draft. Of course the timing is done by design since now that the summer championships (President’s Cup, Minto, Mann, etc.) are done, there ain’t much happening in the box lacrosse world right now.

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