At the end of every season, I look back at the choices I made at the beginning of the season for the NLL awards. It’s interesting to see what players had the great seasons I expected, which came out of nowhere, and which weren’t as successful as anticipated. I usually do this during the playoffs but since this season ended quite abruptly in mid-March, the playoffs we’d currently be in the middle of never happened. I’m not a big fan of unfinished business, so let’s take a look at my awards, standings, and “Look out for…” predictions from last fall and see how well I did, or how badly. It wasn’t great, honestly. Hell, I predicted that each team would play 18 games and didn’t even get that right.
In the north, I picked Toronto, Buffalo, Halifax, and Rochester. Rochester finishing fourth was all I got right. Buffalo and Toronto ended up tied for second but I believe the first tie-breaker would be divisional record, so the Rock’s 4-2 beats the Bandits 3-3.
In the East, I had Georgia, New England, Philly, and New York so I had the 3rd and 4th place teams right. In the West, I went with Calgary, Saskatchewan, San Diego, Colorado, and Vancouver. I did not see Calgary dropping to 5-5 and fourth place, but I did get San Diego at third and Vancouver at 5th correct.
In the overall picks, I only got two right: the Mammoth at 8th and the Riptide at 13th.
IL Indoor will be posting their end-of-season awards articles soon, and I was involved in the voting there. Here I’ll list my top 5 picks for each award but I won’t repeat the comments I wrote for those articles. Comments here are more about my original pick. In more cases than not, the guy I picked to win the award didn’t even finish in my top five.
- Callum Crawford
- Graeme Hossack
- Shayne Jackson
- Kevin Crowley
- Mitch Jones
Incredibly, Mark Matthews was not on pace to finish the season with 100 points, breaking a five-year streak.
Goaltender of the Year
Original pick: Christian Del Bianco
- Doug Jamieson
- Warren Hill
- Zach Higgins
- Evan Kirk
- Nick Rose
My predictions article listed my top goalie pick (Del Bianco), three more on the short list (Ward, Poulin, Vinc), and one dark horse (Scigliano). None of those five made this list.
Defensive Player of the Year
Original pick: Kyle Rubisch
- Graeme Hossack
- Ryan Dilks
- Kyle Rubisch
- Brad Kri
- Steve Priolo
I waffled back and forth between Rubisch and Hossack for the prediction. Went the wrong way.
Transition Player of the Year
Original pick: Zach Currier
- Graeme Hossack
- Kiel Matisz
- Challen Rogers
- Zach Currier
- Joey Cupido
Hossack is the new Chris Corbeil. Is he a transition guy who’s especially good at defense, or a defender who’s especially good at transition? Yes.
Rookie of the Year
Original pick: Andrew Kew
- Connor Fields
- Tyson Gibson
- Andrew Kew
- Ryland Rees
- Clarke Petterson
Fields and Gibson had almost identical stats, though Kew’s points per game was a little higher than both.
Les Bartley Award
Original pick: Ed Comeau
- Mike Accursi
- Glenn Clark
- Matt Sawyer
- Derek Keenan
- Paul Day
If Glenn Clark had released a video of himself dancing with his kids, then maybe…
GM of the Year
Original pick: Patrick Merrill
- Curt Styres
- Jamie Dawick
- Steve Dietrich
- Paul Day
- Derek Keenan
See the IL Indoor article for my comments about Styres, but props must go to Jamie Dawick. Picking up Dan Dawson was a no-brainer (i.e. if you have the chance to get Dawson, you get Dawson), and getting David Brock to replace Brock Sorensen and Creighton Reid was a good move too. The rookies that got lots of playing time this year (Manns, Jubenville, Dominey) all had very good seasons, but the kicker was that they lost Tom Schreiber for six games, only had Adam Jones for one, and were without Dan Dawson for a game as well – and yet still had the depth to tie Buffalo for second in the North division with an 7-4 record.
Look out for…
These were players I predicted would have a big year. I’m only counting wins here for players who had a better-than-average year for them, so if I count a pick as a loss here, it’s not because they had a bad season, just not a excellent one.
I was under .500 here with 5 wins and 8 losses.
Buffalo: Josh Byrne – Win. Byrne was on pace for a 90-point season and led a team containing Dhane Smith in scoring. Sure, Smith played three fewer games but still.
Halifax: Warren Hill – Win. A GAA under 10 and save percentage above 80% would usually mean you’re a lock for Goaltender of the Year. But 2020 ain’t like normal years. Warren Hill has both of those criteria but is sixth in the league (among starters) in both. His 8-1 record leads the NLL though.
Rochester: Curtis Knight – Win. Knight was on pace for 69 points, his highest total in six years.
Toronto: Damon Edwards – gonna give myself a loss here. On pace for 11 points – he has four career seasons above 11 and four below 11, so it’d be average. Of course, points aren’t everything particularly for defenders, but I still wouldn’t call it an excellent season for Damon.
Georgia: Zed Williams – have to say no here too. Williams was on pace for 45 points, exactly what he had last year. Again, not a bad season by any stretch, but it wasn’t a breakout year.
New England: Jordan Durston – Nope. I said Durson could get back into the 60-70 point range like 2018 with Buffalo. Durston was on pace for 32 points, the lowest of his career and less than half of 2018 total.
New York: Tyler Digby – loss here as well. On pace for 69 points, slightly less than what he had last year. Odd stat: Digby scored either two goals or no goals in every game in 2020. He scored exactly two goals in nine games, and none in the other three.
Philadelphia: Brett Hickey – Definite win, though this wasn’t surprising. Hickey was on pace for 40 goals, quite a few more than the four he had in last year’s injury-shortened season.
Calgary: Jesse King – Loss. On pace for a good season but only played four games before he got injured again.
Colorado Mammoth: Kyle Killen – Another loss. On pace for 40 points, which isn’t bad, but he had 49 last year. Like King, he missed time due to injury.
San Diego: Wes Berg – Win. On pace for 87 points, a career high and led the Seals in scoring.
Saskatchewan: Marty Dinsdale – Nope. On pace for 26 points, a 20+ point drop from each of the last two years.
Vancouver: Riley Loewen – Loss. Another solid season from Loewen but he was on pace for 42 points, slightly below his 46 from the previous two.