A few days ago, I posted my summary of the off-season moves, beginning with the new commissioner and CBA, last year’s award winners, and the new Las Vegas team finally beginning to fill out their roster. Today we’re going to get into the player changes we’ll see on the floor this winter. Rather than evaluate each transaction separately, let’s look at each team and what changes they’ve made so far. This will be similar to the “Who’s in, who’s out” article I do every year summarizing each team’s roster changes, but is obviously incomplete and subject to change.
In: Aaron Forster, Kieran McArdle, Ethan Walker
Out: Ryan Benesch, Andrew Kew, Jackson Nishimura, Reilly O’Connor, Joe Resetarits, Ethan Woods
Someone on twitter referred to this as the “Albany FireSale”. Gone are their top four scorers, and they haven’t signed the fifth (Jacob Ruest) yet. Also gone is backup goalie Ethan Woods and Jackson Nishimura, who was second on the team in loose balls behind face-off guy Joe Nardella. McArdle, Walker, and Forster are nice additions to the offense, but they combined for 90 points last year. Resetarits had 111 by himself, and Kew, Benesch, and O’Connor combined for 182. Look for some more moves from the FireWolves before training camp.
In: David Brock, Greg Harnett
Out: Connor Fields
Connor Fields was becoming a fan favourite in Buffalo, so it will hurt that little bit more to see him don a Knighthawks jersey next season. The Bandits shored up their already-strong defense by adding Brock and Harnett.
In: Jeff Cornwall, Brett Hickey
Out: Curtis Dickson, Marshal King, Landon Kells
We thought the Roughnecks looked weird without Dane Dobbie, imagine them without Dobbie and Curtis Dickson. After scoring 50 and 45 goals with the Rock in 2015 and 2017, Brett Hickey hasn’t been quite as dominant. The San Diego experiment didn’t work out at all, but he has the potential to be the top righty on the Roughnecks.
Out: Sam Firth, Erik Turner
No huge changes from the reigning champs, as one would expect. Interesting fact about Sam Firth: he has never played a regular season game. He made his NLL debut in the playoffs last year, played two games and picked up a goal and an assist. He’s one of only eight players in NLL history with more career playoff points than regular season points. Another player on that list is Firth’s (former) Mammoth teammate Brett McIntyre, who has 16 career points, ALL in last year’s playoffs.
In: Andrew Kew, Ethan Woods
Out: Connor Kirst, Mike Poulin, Chad Tutton, Ethan Walker
The biggest change for the Swarm is obviously between the pipes, as Mike Poulin retired. Presumably the Swarm will be going with Craig Wende and Ethan Woods as their goalie tandem. Wende only made it into five games last season but sported a GAA of 10.67 and a save percentage just under 80% in 118 minutes. Keeping those numbers where they are while playing even half of the Swarm’s minutes (roughly 500) would be a tall order but even if they jump a little, that would still be good enough to keep the Swarm in most games.
In: Ryan Benesch, Randy Staats
Out: James Barclay, David Brock, Scott Campbell, Shawn Evans
Adding Benesch and Staats is enough to make any team a lot better, but don’t forget they’re getting Rhys Duch back from injury as well. Combine those three with Jamieson, Petterson, Shanks, Boushy, Fannell, and Keogh and you have some serious firepower. This might be one of the best offenses the league has ever seen – on paper at least. We’ll have to wait and see if that translates into on-floor success. Evans is still unsigned but has said he thinks he can help whatever team signs him, implying he’s not returning to the Thunderbirds. Seeing as how he was a healthy scratch in the playoffs last year, and given the sheer number of offensive players on the team now, I imagine he’s right.
In: Reilly O’Connor
Out: Kieran McArdle, Ty Thompson
McArdle: a lefty who picked up just over 50 points last year. O’Connor: same. Ty Thompson: only played in two games last year. End result: No significant changes.
Out: Randy Staats
No major changes for Panther City. It sounds odd to call the trading of Randy Staats “not major” but Staats was injured all of last season and never played a minute for PCLC.
In: Joe Resetarits, Chad Tutton
Out: Kevin Crowley, Corey Small, Jackson Suboch
I’m wondering if the Wings signing Chad Tutton is the hidden power move of the off-season. Tutton’s been a solid if unspectacular defender in Georgia for years, not picking up the accolades of Rubisch, Priolo, or Hossack but quietly getting the job done. This move reunites him with his former Swarm teammates Kiel Matisz, John Ranagan, and Alex Crepinsek. Crowley and Small were the top two scorers on the Wings last year so losing both of them will hurt but adding Resetarits to the likes of Rambo, McIntosh, and Riorden (and getting a full season of Kyle Jackson) might make for some exciting offense in Philly.
In: Connor Fields, Riley Hutchcraft
Out: Charlie Bertrand, John Wagner
Bertrand had a very good rookie season in Rochester, but Connor Fields is an upgrade. The Knighthawks only got two games out of Evan Kirk last year and Rylan Hartley and Joel Watson split the rest of the season. I don’t know Kirk’s status for next season but Hutchcraft gives them three goalies in their mid 20’s to choose from either as Kirk’s backup or as their two starters.
In: Kevin Crowley, Curtis Dickson
Out: Brandon Clelland, Mark Glicini, Brett Hickey
Crowley, Dickson, Dobbie, Staats, Berg, Noble, LeClaire, Greer, and Casey Jackson make up about as potent an offense as anyone outside of Halifax. But this is the NLL so expect the unexpected – don’t be too surprised if the first game between these two teams ends up 8-7.
Out: Chris Corbeil, Jeff Cornwall
The Rush managed to hang on to Kyle Rubisch but both Cornwall and captain Corbeil are strong defenders and transition players, so losing both will have a significant impact, especially if they don’t make a trade or sign a free agent or two to replace them.
In: Chris Corbeil, Corey Small
Out: Aaron Forster, Rob Hellyer, Riley Hutchcraft
Rob Hellyer has been in the NLL since 2011 and yet he’s only 30. He and Small are both a few years removed from their lone 100+ point season (Hellyer had 113 in 2016, Small had 111 in 2017) but both are still significant offensive threats though from different sides of the floor. In 2022, the Rock had the third-lowest goals-against-per-game average in league history at 9.22. Imagine taking a defensive group that strong and adding someone like Chris Corbeil.
Out: Tyson Roe
(Insert obligatory “Tyson Roe is a big loss for Vancouver” joke here) (He’s 6’10” in case you are unaware)
I’m a little surprised to see that the Warriors have made almost no changes from last year, a season where they started strong but finished 1-9. Yes, they will get Mitch Jones back so that’s a big plus but is it enough?