The trade deadline has come and gone, and a couple of teams made a couple of deals, but nothing really Earth-shattering. But there was big news from the NLL front office for the second time in a couple of weeks, and after a shaky start, Panther City has really pulled things together.
Jessica Berman leaves the NLL for the NWSL
This is awesome for Jessica and for the NWSL, not so much for the NLL. Berman was brought in from the NHL a couple of years ago as the new deputy commissioner, seemingly as the heir apparent to Nick Sakiewicz. Nick’s departure made Jessica the interim commissioner, and had she progressed to the full-time commissioner’s job, she would have been the first-ever female commissioner in a North American men’s sports league. But before that could happen, the National Women’s Soccer League came calling and she decided to take that job as commissioner. You know how it is, when you have to choose which top-level professional sports league to be commissioner of? It’s tough. Anyway, congrats to Ms. Berman on her new job. As for who the next commissioner of the NLL will be, right now it’s anybody’s guess. I assume they’ll promote someone to interim commissioner and then do a full search, like they did when George Daniel left the position.
Patrick Dodds, Nick Damude, and PCLC
I’m so old, I remember when Panther City was one of those “they’ll probably be good in a year or two but right now, not so much” teams. Man, those were the days. Now, they’re on a three-game winning streak with wins over three division rivals including this weekend’s 20-14 drubbing of the Mammoth, who were 6-3 going into that game. They became the first team to score 20 goals in a game since the Black Wolves did it in December 2019, Patrick Dodds cemented himself into the Rookie of the Year conversation with an 11-point night, and Nick Damude scored the first goalie goal of the season. Do I think PCLC will continue their winning ways all the way to a 10-8 record and a playoff berth? Likely not but they have shown, as the Riptide have, that they truly can compete with anybody. It’s really weird that teams could be more worried about an upcoming game against PCLC or New York than they are about a game against the Saskatchewan Rush.
One of the bigger questions of the season: when you play the FireWolves, which team will you get? Do you get the one that has beaten the 8-2 Seals once and the 8-3 Thunderbirds twice – and kept Halifax to 13 goals total in those two games? Or do you get the one that allowed 31 goals in two losses to the 3-8 Knighthawks? They had a three-game win streak earlier this year where they gave up 5, 8, and 6 goals, and they only allowed 7 to the Thunderbirds last weekend. But in between, they went 2-5 and allowed 12+ goals in all but one of those games. The FireWolves could be a playoff team in the east, but they’ll have to be more consistent in order to fight off a surging Swarm team that just got better (see Trades below).
Trades are always awesome (except when it’s just draft picks for draft picks – sometimes necessary for the teams I guess but BORING), and we had several just in advance of the trade deadline:
- New York acquired Brent Noseworthy and a 4th round pick in 2022 from Buffalo for a first round pick in 2024 – Riptide shoring up their back end with a solid defender. You know how they say a defender is doing well if you don’t hear his name on the broadcast? That’s Noseworthy.
- Halifax gets Dawson Theede from Panther City for Stephan Leblanc and a second in 2024. Theede is a big forward whose job is NOT to put the ball in the net; the Thunderbirds have plenty of guys who do that. Theede is there to help out those who do the scoring.
- PCLC sends Stephan Leblanc to Georgia for a second in 2022. The Swarm need some offensive help with the departures of Randy Staats and Miles Thompson, and Leblanc can provide that.
- Philly sends Brett Hickey to San Diego for a second in 2024. San Diego needed some more offense and… wait, no they didn’t. They’re third in the league in goals scored per game, and just got a little better. Philly, on the other hand, is just outside the playoff picture so trading their 4th-highest scorer for a draft pick two years away looks a little like “we’ll get ’em next year”. Though they do have a ton of offense so maybe they think this will be addition by subtraction?
- New York re-acquires Tyler Digby from Colorado along with Ron John and a 2024 first for 2020’s Rookie of the Year Tyson Gibson. Both Gibson and Digby are having sub-par seasons so perhaps both GMs figure a change of scenery might give them a spark. Note that a “sub-par season” for Gibson is hard to determine since this is only his second, but he’s only at 28 points after 11 games, compared to 43 points in 12 last season.
- Philly sends Anthony Joaquim and a 3rd to Colorado for Sam LeClair and a 2nd. Joaquim is a versatile defender / transition guy who’s been around Philly for a few years. I don’t know much about LeClair, who is a forward but has only appeared in four games.
For a not awesome, this one isn’t really that bad. Yes, Halifax lost two games this past weekend, but they’re still 8-3 and they only allowed 18 goals total between the two games. That’s not terrible, but when you’re 8-1 going into a weekend, going 0-2 over that weekend is sub-ideal.
The Rock and Bandits beat their opponents last weekend by a combined score of 31-10. Blowout games like that are really no fun for anyone, except perhaps the rookies or secondary players who might get a little extra playing time. The winning team wants to keep their foot on the gas without being accused of running up the score, while the losing team just wants it to be over. Even the fans tend to lose interest when the outcome of the game is decided long before the final buzzer. Of course this is lacrosse, and we’ve seen eight or even nine goal leads in the third quarter vanish. I saw a seven goal lead with less than ten minutes left in the fourth quarter vanish once, so it’s never really over until it’s over. But sometimes it’s just… over.
Teams that notably did nothing at the trade deadline:
- Saskatchewan – after five extremely successful seasons in Saskatchewan and several more in Edmonton (the first few in Edmonton were not extremely successful – actually, they were extremely NOT successful), the Rush are tied for dead last in the league. And yet at the trade deadline, crickets. I guess you could interpret that as Keenan having confidence in the coaching staff and players – he believes that the team as it is can fight off the funk they’re in. But we’ve expected that all season and it hasn’t happened yet.
- Calgary – similar to the Rush, the reigning NLL champs are 3-6 and have the worst offense in the league, so you might expect them to make some moves for young players or draft picks, but the Roughnecks decided to stand pat. Then again, they have eight different rookies who have played for them this season, so perhaps they figure they’ve already done most of the rebuild and now they just have to wait.