Trade deadline 2015

Now that is what a trade deadline is all about.

Wow, that was fun. Every team in the league made a trade on Tuesday, some bigger than others. But you could argue that the trades made on deadline day included the best player on three different teams, as well as two captains. Below is a summary of the deals we saw on Monday and Tuesday:

Andrew Suitor for Joel White

To Minnesota: Joel White and a second round pick in 2016
To New England: Andrew Suitor

It’s rare for the current captain of a team to be traded. It’s even more rare for captains of two teams to be swapped. This trade confused a lot of people considering how important Suitor was to the Swarm. He was their captain, their leader in every way but scoring, the “heart and soul” of the team, and the phrase “fan favourite” doesn’t begin to cover it. But they traded him anyway which pissed off a lot of Swarm fans, judging by the comments on their Facebook post announcing the trade. In return they get another solid transition guy in Joel White, who has similar scoring numbers to Suitor but far fewer penalty minutes (Suitor has 20, White has just 2) and a lot more loose balls (117 to Suitor’s 60). Suitor is just over two months older than White so age wasn’t a concern for the Swarm, but I imagine White has a smaller salary than Suitor, which is.

Considering how much anger and questioning of the sanity of the Arlottas we’ve seen regarding this trade, you’d think that they got nothing back. Joel White is kind of on the losing end here. The Swarm are getting more loose balls and less time in the box, and though White is perhaps less of a vocal leader than Suitor, he’s still has leadership skills or the Black Wolves wouldn’t have made him the captain. Meanwhile the Wolves get a passionate guy who’ll run through walls for his teammates and is willing to fight if necessary, just in case Bill O’Brien doesn’t feel like it.

Honestly, I’m not sure of the overall advantage of this trade for the Swarm. White might put up slightly better numbers, but if you’re going to anger most of your fan base and lose season ticket holders, is it worth it?

 

Logan SchussLogan Schuss for Johnny Powless

To Vancouver: Logan Schuss
To Minnesota: Johnny Powless

While the Suitor deal raised a few eyebrows, the Swarm’s other major deal works out very well for them. Schuss had job commitments in BC that kept him out of a couple of games (though fewer than he originally expected), so this way he’s much more likely to be able to play. Both Schuss and Powless are young lefties (Schuss is 24, Powless 22). Powless just wasn’t fitting into the Stealth offense, as shown by his 7 goals in 11 games. As said in an article in the Vancouver Province, Powless had as many 0-goal games in his 11 with the Stealth (7) as he did in three full seasons with the Knighthawks. Powless wanted out of Rochester because he didn’t want to be playing behind Cody Jamieson and Dan Dawson all the time, only to be playing behind Rhys Duch, Tyler Digby, and Corey Small in Vancouver. In Minnesota, I think he’ll be alongside Callum Crawford, Miles Thompson, and Shayne Jackson rather than behind them, so this could work out very well for them.

 

Cam Flint

To Colorado: Cam Flint
To Minnesota: Second and third round picks in 2016

Not much to say about this one – Flint had 2 points in 11 games with the Swarm last season but has yet to play this year. Two draft picks for a player with that little NLL experience tells you how highly the Mammoth thinks of Flint, who went to the University of Denver.

 

Matthew Dinsdale

To Edmonton: Matthew Dinsdale
To Calgary: Third round pick, 2016

After Scott Ranger retired in the off-season, I remember some talk that Dinsdale was likely going to get Ranger’s spot and thus lots more playing time. I honestly don’t know if the playing time increased, but while Calgary scored 38 goals in their first three games, Dinsdale was held pointless in all three. After that, his playing time dropped and by the time this trade happened, he’d only played in 6 games and only pulled in 6 points. This is consistent with his numbers over the previous two years (24 points in 27 games). With the addition of Sean Pollock onto the Roughnecks roster, Dinsdale’s playing time wasn’t likely to increase. Maybe a change of scenery (onto a team much more likely to make the playoffs) will do him good.

 

Joe Resetarits for Jamie Batson

To Rochester: Joe Resetarits and a third round pick in 2016
To Buffalo: Jamie Batson, second round pick in 2016, and second round pick in 2017

Resetarits had a pretty good year in 2014, with 42 points in 17 games, but his production has dropped a little this year. His 21 points in 10 games is 6th on the Bandits but would be 7th on the Knighthawks. But playing behind Jammer, Dawson, Point, Walters, Hall, Vitarelli, and Keogh, it’s not clear how much playing time will be left for Resetarits. Batson is a defender with 0 career points in 8 games, but has only played in 2 games this year.

 

Garrett Billings for Kevin Crowley

To New England: Garrett Billings
To Toronto: Kevin Crowley

This was the biggest deal of the day and as a Rock fan, I have to admit I was a little underwhelmed at first. Billings was the MVP runner-up in each of the last 3 seasons and the only player in NLL history to score 100+ points three years in a row. Crowley has been good, sometimes great, for Philly and New England, but he’s averaged around 75% of what Billings has done. I’d say Crowley’s a great player but not an elite one like Billings, so a one-for-one trade doesn’t seem to make sense. But first, we knew that Billings was going to be traded, and likely not for what he was worth. And second, Billings is coming off of knee surgery, and may or may not still be the elite player he was. If he is, then yes, New England wins this one. Going strictly by numbers, even if Billings is only 80% of what he was, New England still wins.

Crowley the GiantBut I wonder if Crowley being the #1 pick overall caused some people (myself included) to expect too much of him. He was expected to be the guy both in Philadelphia and in New England. To his credit, he’s been the top or second scorer on his team every year of his career, but hasn’t been the 90-100 point guy that I kind of expected. But in Toronto, he doesn’t need to be the guy. He can just be one of the guys. And since the guys include Hellyer, Hickey, Sanderson, and Leblanc (and hopefully Doyle next year), that’s not bad company to be around. While I’m sure he learned a lot from veteran Dan Dawson in their one year together in Philly, now he has the opportunity to learn from Sanderson and Doyle and who knows – maybe in a couple of years, he will be the guy on the Rock, but if Hellyer and Hickey keep playing the way they have been, he may not need to be.

Assuming he’s not hobbled by the surgery, Billings is an exciting player to watch and I envy the New England fans who are able to see him at every home game now. He’s known for his playmaking ability and passing (he has twice as many career assists as goals), but he can score with the best of them including lasers from way out, cross-crease dives, and behind-the-back John Grant-style beauties.

Would I prefer to have Billings back on the Rock? Yes, I have to admit that I would. But I’ve known for weeks that that would be unlikely, so I prepared myself for the likelihood that he’d be gone. Given the alternatives (the Rock lose him for nothing or scratch him for the rest of the season), I originally thought that adding Crowley would be better than nothing, but not much more than that. But I’ve warmed to the idea and similar to the Schuss-Powless deal, I think this could be good for both teams as well.

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Top 5 non-surprises of 2015

Earlier this week, I listed the top 5 surprises of this season, so now it’s time for the top 5 non-surprises. Here are things that happened that we probably could have foreseen.

 

5. Ben McIntosh and Miles Thompson having strong rookie years

The #1 and #2 picks in last year’s draft, big things were expected from McIntosh and Thompson and they have not disappointed. Coincidentally, both are sitting at 43 points right now (McIntosh has one more goal and one fewer assist) though Thompson has played one more game than McIntosh. In fact, they only differ by 2 in power play goals, by 11 in shots, by 4 in loose balls, and by 1 in penalty minutes. They’re having the same season. Big question I can’t answer yet: how on earth do we pick between them for Rookie of the Year?

4. Edmonton playing strong defensively

The Rush are giving up an average of just under 10 goals per game, ½ a goal better than anyone else (and 5½ better than the Stealth). Aaron Bold’s GAA of 9.36 is the lowest of anyone who’s played more than 19 minutes (hi Angus Goodleaf!) and he’s 5th in save %. Still, even with these outstanding numbers, Bold’s GAA is half a point higher than last year and the team is allowing 1.2 more goals per game than last year, which just tells you how amazing the 2014 Rush were.

3. Brett Hickey scoring a bunch

Brett HickeyBrett Hickey’s career stats before the 2015 season: 5 goals, 5 assists, 9 games, 2 Stealths (Washington in 2012 and Vancouver in 2014). So far this season: 33 goals, 15 assists, 13 games. But as I said in the Top 5 Surprises article, Hickey has been lighting up the WLA for two years, finishing in the top 10 in scoring twice. I certainly thought he’d improve on his 1.11 points per game pace, and I read a number of tweets and blog articles before the season talking about how Hickey was going to light up the NLL as well. I have to admit that I didn’t expect these kind of numbers, but the fact that he’s doing well is not a big surprise.

2. Jeremy Noble traded to Colorado

We knew that Noble wasn’t going to play for the Knighthawks. We knew that he lives in Denver and plays for the Outlaws in the MLL. And we knew that the Mammoth had an interest (and who wouldn’t?). So it was almost just a matter of time before this deal got made, and as I said on Addicted to Lacrosse a couple of weeks ago, it looks like a good deal for both teams. Another big question I can’t answer yet: could Noble be the Rookie of the Year after playing at most 9 games?

1. Dhane Smith emerges as an offensive star

Over his two NLL seasons, Smith has shown himself to be a great offensive player, but the Bandits decided to use him on defense and transition a lot. This was not a terrible decision; he’s very good in that role as well. (And it’s not the first time the Bandits have done this – they made Mark Steenhuis a transition player after a 50-goal 101-point season followed by a 90-point season.) But when they chose to have Smith play a primarily offensive role this season, we all knew the effect he’d have and the numbers he’d put up. And Smith has delivered. After two seasons averaging a little over 3 points per game, he is currently averaging 5.38 points per game and is tied with Ryan Benesch for both the team lead and 4th on the overall scoring list. This surprises me not at all.

Top 5 surprises of 2015

We’re about halfway through the 2015 season, and many of the unusual things that always happen at the beginning of the season have sorted themselves out. Nobody’s winless. Nobody’s undefeated. Nobody’s on pace for 180 points. But as always, there are a few things left over that have not sorted themselves out. Here are the top 5 surprises at the mid-way point of the 2015 season:

 

5. John Tavares’s scoring drought

Due to injuries, John Tavares has only played 7 of the Bandits’ 13 games so far this season, but that’s not the surprising part. What’s surprising is that he only has 17 points. Tavares has averaged 5.8 points per game over 23 seasons and is not only less than half that this year, his 2.4 points per game is a drop of 3/4 of a point per game from last year.

4. Johnny Powless’s scoring drought

When Johnny Powless was brought in to Vancouver, they billed him as the Next Big Thing, the offensive superstar-to-be that was going to help them win Championship after Championship. Of course they didn’t explicitly say those things, but the implications were clear. After 10 games, Powless only has 7 goals and has only scored more than one in a game once. Not only is he nowhere near the league leaders in points, but he’s third on the team, tied with Corey Small who’s played three fewer games in a Stealth jersey. He does have 31 assists, good for 2nd on the team and 14th in the league. This is not to say Powless has been a bust in Vancouver, but if you were expecting him to light up the nets and become half of the one-two scoring punch with Rhys Duch, that’s not what’s happened.

3. Toronto not missing Billings or Doyle

Nobody would deny that Garrett Billings was one of the league’s top players over the last few years, or that Colin Doyle has been one of the best ever. So a team with a .500 record who loses those two players and replaces them both with one guy from the Vancouver Stealth scrap heap will suffer, right? Actually, just the opposite.

Doyle & BillingsI’m certainly not arguing that the Toronto Rock is a better team because they are without Billings and Doyle. But it’s safe to say that they’ve dealt with the losses rather well. The emergence of Brett Hickey has been a somewhat unexpected windfall – I say “somewhat” because Hickey has been in the top 10 in WLA scoring for the past two years, and finished 4th in scoring last year. It’s not as if nobody expected him to do well in the NLL, but Hickey’s on pace for 45 goals and 66 points. I’m sure many people are not surprised by those numbers but I was. Pleasantly.

Rob Hellyer had a breakout season in 2014 and hasn’t just continued that strong play, he’s exceeded it. Hellyer is averaging 6.62 points per game, third in the league behind Shawn Evans and Mark Matthews, and a full two points per game higher than last year. Stephen Leblanc and Kasey Beirnes are each averaging a half-point per game higher than last year, Kevin Ross is only 2 points behind Beirnes and has played 13 games compared to last year’s 2, and of course Josh Sanderson is having an outstanding year as well, on pace to be his best since 2010.

Rob Hellyer got injured this past weekend and there’s been no word on his status, but talk immediately started about the possibility of Garrett Billings returning to the team. I also heard a rumour today that Colin Doyle may be back before the year is out. But if none of those things happen and Hellyer is back by next weekend, it seems unthinkable that Billings and Doyle could sit out an entire season and not be missed.

2. Who’s not playing

You could make up a team with all the players not playing in the NLL this year for various reasons and it’d be a damn good one. The aforementioned Billings and Doyle are obviously two of the biggest names, but there are lots of others. We’ll start with Matt Beers, Kyle Sorensen, Tim Henderson, Alex Gajic, and Kyle Belton – and that’s just the Stealth. We also have Mike Grimes, Curtis Knight, Garrett Thul, Jamie Rooney, Scott Jones, Cam Flint, Jimmy Purves, Matt Roik, and half of last year’s Philadelphia Wings.

Lewis Ratcliff retired after 4 games, and Athan Iannucci was released after being benched for a few. Shawn Williams was signed by the Rock and then cut before the season began, but I happen to know that he’s been working out and keeping in shape, hoping for a phone call.

An impressive list. And that’s not even including the big-name players who retired after last year, including Ryan Ward, Tracey Kelusky, and Scott Ranger.

1. Calgary in dead last

I think the most surprising thing about the 2015 season, hands down, is the Calgary Roughnecks. They began the season 0-6 thanks in part to a brutal start by Mike Poulin, who had a GAA over 17 after three games and lost the starting goaltender’s job. It’s not as if the team was completely terrible; they lost two in OT and another by a single goal. All the time, Shawn Evans was at or near the top in scoring but neither Dane Dobbie nor Jeff Shattler exceeded 5 points in a game until their 7th or 8th game.

RoughnecksThey seem to have pulled it together since then, having won 3 of their last 5 including a 20-9 blowout of the early-peaking New England Black Wolves. Poulin has pulled his GAA down to 13.75 after a few good starts. But the team is still 3-8 so they’d have to almost run the table just to end up at .500.

No team who’s started the season 0-6 has ever made the playoffs in the NLL. But given the Stealth’s inconsistency so far and the fact that they only have to finish higher than one team in the West, it’s still not out of the question for the Roughnecks.

Week 1 picks

Here we go again! Just like I’ve done over the past couple of years, I’m posting my picks for each and every game this season. Last season I did great with my picks, ending up with a 58-23 record, or 71.6%. The previous years weren’t nearly as good. I finished the 2013 season at 33-39, or 45.8%, and the 2012 season at 31-41, or 43.1%. My percentages are getting better though, and if I jump 25.8 percentage points like I did last year, I’ll be at 97.4% which means I’ll get 2 picks wrong all season. I’m all for optimism and everything, but I’m going say that’s unlikely. Honestly, I’ll be happy if I’m over .500.

Record: 0-0 (.000)

Game
Comments
Pick
BUF @ NE I picked the Black Wolves to finish last in the East, but I kind of hope I’m wrong and they have a great season. It would be better for new fans to have a successful team – I mean, look at how the Washington Stealth’s attendance increased when they were successful! OK, bad example.

New England has a bunch of good players but no great players. With the right team chemistry, this can still bring success but it’s too much of a crapshoot so I have to pick against them at least until we get more familiar with the team.

Bandits
EDM @ BUF After the season Edmonton had in 2014, how can you pick against them? Rush
TOR @ ROC The Rock are my team and I hate picking against them, but I have to go with the three-time champs here. Once I see how the Rock offense is handling the loss of Doyle and Billings I may change my mind but for now, their offense is a bit of a question mark. Knighthawks
COL @ MIN The Mammoth have been a mystery for years. Grant, Iannucci, Jones, and Westervelt could all end up in the top 10 scoring-wise, or the team could finish 6-12. That said, I think they’re a better team than last year which is something I can’t honestly say about the Swarm. Mammoth
VAN @ CAL Vancouver got better on the offense and transition but not on defense. Calgary changed very little from the 12-6 team they had last year, so I have to go with the Roughnecks. Roughnecks

2015 NLL Predictions

My predictions for the final regular season standings as well as the major annual awards.

Final Standings

East

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

West

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

Individual Awards

MVP

Dan Dawson

Winner: Dan Dawson
Short list: Cody Jamieson, Ryan Benesch

Goaltender of the Year

Winner: Aaron Bold
Short list: Matt Vinc, Mike Poulin

Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Kyle Rubisch
Short list: Chris Corbeil, Brock Sorensen

Transition Player of the Year

Winner: Jeremy Thompson
Short list: Geoff Snider, Karsen Leung, Jordan Hall

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Miles Thompson
Short list: Ben McIntosh, Chris Attwood

Les Bartley Award

Winner: Curt Malawsky
Short list: Mike Hasen, Troy Cordingley if Buffalo’s longest losing streak is 4 games or less. If the Rock can lose Doyle and Billings and still finish second or higher in the east, John Lovell should be considered as well.

GM of the Year

Winner: Terry Sanderson. This would obviously be posthumous but if the Rock does well this year, I can see it happening.
Short list: Curt Styres, Steve Govett if the Mammoth don’t tank, Chris Seinko if the Black Wolves are third or better and above .500 in the East.

2015 preview: East division

As I did with the West, a brief look at each Eastern Division team, how they’ve changed from last year, how I think they’ll do this year, one player that will have a breakout year and a haiku.


Bandits  Buffalo Bandits

 

Roster Changes

Veterans Shawn Williams, Glen Bryan, Rory Smith and Aaron Wilson are out, while Alex Kedoh Hill returns to the NLL, Nick Weiss comes east from the Stealth, and Jerome Thompson makes his NLL debut.

Look out for

Dhane Smith. After playing mostly defense and transition last season, The Great Dhane still put up 59 points. This year, he’s listed as a forward so we might see some big numbers from this big guy in 2015.

Prediction

Second in east.

Haiku

Another Thompson
joins Benny, Steenhuis, JT
Defense looks solid


Swarm  Minnesota Swarm

 

Roster Changes

Lots. Scott Jones, Mike Hobbins, and Cam Flint were released, Josh Gillam is injured, Jeff Gilbert was signed by the Rock, Tyler Carlson, Tyler Hass, and Brock Sorensen were traded, and the most painful for Swarm fans is that Rookie of the Year Logan Schuss will not be playing in 2015 due to work commitments. Veteran defender Mike Grimes was also acquired in the off-season but will also be missing the season because of work. But in their place are some familiar names and one exceptional rookie. Dean Hill returns to where he started his NLL career back in 2006, NLL vets Nick Cotter and Mitch Belisle also return to the league, Brodie MacDonald will fight Zach Higgins for the starting goalie role, Ethan O’Connor will bring his transition talents to South Beach Minnesota, and Miles Thompson rounds out the trio of Thompson brothers in the NLL this year (and look for that to expand again next season).

Look out for

I’m really looking forward to watching Miles Thompson light up the NLL.

Prediction

Fourth in east.

Haiku

Miles Thompson is here!
Hill, Cotter, Belisle too, but
Logan Schuss can’t play


BlackWolves  New England Black Wolves

 

Roster Changes

Way lots. I have twelve people who weren’t on the 2014 Wings roster that are on this one. There are some familiar names there, like Brett Bucktooth, Kevin Buchanan, Jesse Fehr, Ryan Hotaling, and Jamie Lincoln, but also some newcomers like Bill O’Brien and Quinn Powless (Johnny’s cousin). Ryan Ward and Tracey Kelusky retired, Brodie Merrill and Jordan Hall were traded, and Garrett Thul will be spending the season as a member of the US Army.

Look out for

I’ve always liked Kevin Buchanan, back when he was with the Blazers and then the Bandits. He has a laser of a shot and doesn’t need to be in close to be dangerous.

Prediction

Fifth in east.

Haiku

Not the Philly Wings
Playing in a casino
Lots of new faces


Knighthawks  Rochester Knighthawks

 

 

Roster Changes

Johnny Powless is out but Jordan Hall and Aaron Wilson are in, as is Chris Attwood. Attwood is making his NLL debut but was the CLax scoring leader and Most Outstanding Player in 2012. Stephen Keogh is also out to start the season but I don’t know how long he will be unavailable.

Look out for

Chris Attwood. His strong play in CLax earned him the spot on the Knighthawks roster, but now he needs to show that he belongs in the NLL. I think he’ll make up most of the 50-odd points that Johnny Powless would have contributed.

Prediction

First in east.

Haiku

The champs yet again
No Powless but Hall is back
First is theirs to lose


Rock  Toronto Rock

 

Roster Changes

Obviously the loss of both Colin Doyle and Garrett Billings is devastating, but at least they’ll get Billings back in February or March. Kevin Ross should see more playing time, and the Rock have also picked up Brett Hickey from Vancouver and rookie Brandon Benn also made the team. The defense is much bigger, with Brodie Merrill, Brock Sorensen, and Jeff Gilbert replacing Bill Greer, Ethan O’Connor, and Jimmy Purves. Defense was a problem for the Rock last year so this should be a big improvement.

Just like Vancouver with Chris Hall, Edmonton with Derek Keenan, and most of the league (particularly the Bandits) with Tucker Williams, the Rock will be playing for Terry Sanderson.

Look out for

Brock Sorensen. He’s already a big tough defender but now rather than being on a young team with only a couple of veterans (Jeff Gilbert, now a Rock teammate,  was the only Swarm player over 30 last year and didn’t turn 31 until the end of the season), he gets to learn from some of the best of the vets in Sandy Chapman, Brodie Merrill, and Patrick Merrill.

Prediction

Third in east.

Haiku

Much bigger defense
Brodie plays with his brother
Captain Doyle is out

NLL 2015: Who’s in, who’s out

All the comings and going of each team in one handy place. I’ll do my actual team analysis and predictions and stuff later, but here are the changes from the final roster last year to the rosters just announced.

Buffalo Bandits

In: David Diruscio, Brandon Goodwin, Alex Kedoh Hill, Jerome Thompson, Nick Weiss, Mitch Wilde
Out: Glen Bryan, Jamie Rooney, Rory Smith, Kurtis Wagar, Shawn Williams, Aaron Wilson
IR: Jamie Rooney
PUP:
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Matthew Bennett, Jordan Dance, Tyler Ferreira, Corey Fowler

A couple of last-minute cuts before the deadline were the most surprising changes, as Glen Bryan and Aaron Wilson were left off the roster. Wilson immediately signed with the Knighthawks. Jerome, also known as Hiana, is the older (I believe) brother of former Bandit Jeremy as well as Minnesota’s Miles.

Minnesota Swarm

In: Mitch Belisle, Sam Bradman, Nick Cotter, Dean Hill, Brodie MacDonald, Shane MacDonald, Ethan O’Connor, Corbyn Tao, Miles Thompson
Out: Tyler Carlson, Cam Flint, Jeff Gilbert, Josh Gillam, Tyler Hass, Mike Hobbins, Scott Jones, Logan Schuss, Brock Sorensen
IR:
PUP: Matt Gibson, Josh Gillam
Holdout: Logan Schuss
Practice Roster: Ian Crawford, Marcus Holman, Joe Maracle, Patrick Miles

Lots of changes for the Swam, the biggest of which is losing Logan Schuss for the season. But Miles Thompson was not drafted third overall for no reason, and the Swarm have been pushing his presence on the team quite a bit (particularly with the cool t-shirts with “Thompson” and a pony tail on the back). Ethan O’Connor impressed with the Rock last year, and Brodie MacDonald is really tall. Mike Grimes was acquired in a trade with Vancouver but will also miss the season. Maybe he and Schuss can get together and watch the games online over a few beers… except for the fact that they will be living over 3000 kilometers apart.

New England Black Wolves

In: Tye Belanger, Kevin Buchanan, Brett Bucktooth, Mark Cockerton, Michael Diehl, Craig England, Jesse Fehr, Ryan Hotaling, Jamie Lincoln, Mike McNamara, New England fans?, Bill O’Brien, Quinn Powless
Out: Don Alton, CJ Costabile, Jordan Hall, Tracey Kelusky, Brodie Merrill, Philadelphia fans, John Ranagan, Kyle Sweeney, Garrett Thul, Ryan Ward, Chad Wiedmaier
IR:
PUP:
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Brent Adams, Sheldon Burns, Matt Crough, Josh Johnson

Twelve new players from the final Wings roster. Twelve. Out of twenty. High turnover was par for the course for the Wings, but this is crazy. Add to that a new location and new fans (and a bunch of pissed off former Wings fans) and nobody really has any idea what this team can do. Ryan Ward, Jordan Hall, Brodie Merrill, and Garrett Thul are some pretty big losses, but many of the new faces are familiar names in the NLL; guys like Buchanan, Bucktooth, Fehr, and Hotaling have all been around for a few years. Kevin and Kyle Buchanan are not related but are both good players, and having them both will confuse announcers and bloggers alike.

Rochester Knighthawks

In: Chris Attwood, Jamie Batson, Jordan Hall, Zac Reid, Aaron Wilson
Out: Mac Allen, Tyler Burton, Stephen Keogh, Joel McCready, Johnny Powless, Brad Self
IR:
PUP: Stephen Keogh, Brad Self
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Mitch Dumont, Joel Matthews, Justin Pychel, Zach Williams

Stephen Keogh

More changes to the defending 3-time champs that one might expect. Johnny Powless was traded and Stephen Keogh (pictured above) is injured to start the year, but in are Chris Attwood, who has been lighting up CLax for a couple of years, and former Bandit Aaron Wilson so even without Powless and Keogh, the Knighthawks should be OK offensively. Hall and Reid are the only transition players listed, as Brad Self also starts the year on the PUP list and Burton and McCready are out west.

Toronto Rock

In: Brandon Benn, Jamie Dawick (GM), Jeff Gilbert, Brett Hickey, Brodie Merrill, Brock Sorensen
Out: Garrett Billings, Colin Doyle, Bill Greer, Mike Lum-Walker, Ethan O’Connor, Jimmy Purves, Terry Sanderson (GM)
IR:
PUP: Colin Doyle
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Steve Fryer, Jordan Robertson, Hayden Smith, Mark White
Protected: Garrett Billings

Nobody was hit harder by the injury bug than the Rock. Garrett Billings will miss at least a month or two, and Colin Doyle is out for the year. In their place are Brett Hickey (9 games and 10 points in his career) and rookie Brandon Benn. Ouch. Not saying they’re going to fail spectacularly, but even if they play as well as we can possibly expect, they’re not Doyle and Billings. On the other hand, the defense is much bigger than last season, as the team brought the 6’4″ Jeff Gilbert back and acquired the 6’4″ Brodie Merrill and the 6’6″ Brock Sorensen. And as I asked someone on Twitter the other day, who doesn’t love a big back end?

Calgary Roughnecks

In: Scott Carnegie, Jeff Moleski
Out: Shawn Evans, Scott Ranger, Tor Reinholdt
IR:
PUP: Shawn Evans
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Connor Goodwin, Patric O’Meara, Tor Reinholdt, Tyson Roe

Almost no changes for the Roughnecks, but one of them is pretty big. Scott Ranger retired during the off-season, and with no other changes to the offense, it would appear that Matthew Dinsdale will be getting a lot more playing time this year. Shawn Evans is on the PUP list, but apparently will be ready for opening day. Scott Carnegie re-joins the Roughnecks after a year off and veteran Jeff Moleski is also back after four seasons in Washington / Vancouver. Both of those changes will help strengthen an already solid defense.

Colorado Mammoth

In: Alex Buque, Tyler Codron, Jackson Decker, Ian Hawksbee, Robert Hope, Eli McLaughlin, Alex Turner
Out: Tye Belanger, Colton Clark, Joel Dalgarno, Chet Koneczny, Cameron Mann, Mike McNamara, John Orsen, Casey Powell
IR:
PUP: Eric Law
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Colton Porter, Mike Woods

For me, the biggest surprise for the Mammoth was the release of Joel Dalgarno. He’s no John Grant but chipped in a decent 42 points last season. Alex Turner joins from Edmonton (by way of Minnesota who actually traded for him and then released him days later), and rookies Jackson Tyler and Eli McLaughlin will also be on the Mammoth front lines. I imagine Casey Powell has retired from the NLL; he’s not on the roster, the holdout list, the PUP list, or any other Mammoth list I could find. He only played 5 games last season so it’s not a devastating loss. Tyler Codron and Ian Hawksbee both return to the NLL after missing two seasons (Hawksbee played one game in 2013), and Robert “don’t call me Bob” Hope is a highly-touted defender.

Edmonton Rush

In: Tyler Carlson, Ben McIntosh, Corey Small
Out: Curtis Knight, Brodie MacDonald, Alex Turner
IR:
PUP: Curtis Knight, Jarrett Toll
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Mitch Banister, Mac MacGrotty, Tyler Melnyk, Adam Shute

As you might expect from a team that went 16-2, not a lot of roster changes. Curtis Knight was injured during the off-season and Alex Turner was traded, but Corey Small is returning after missing all of last year, and Ben McIntosh was the first overall draft pick, so that could be a wash. The tough part will be deciding who to drop when Knight returns. The only other change is a swap of backup goalies: Tyler Carlson is in from Minnesota while Brodie MacDonald joins the Swarm.

Vancouver Stealth

In: Tyler Burton, Brandon Clelland, Tyler Hass, Bradley Kri, Joel McCready, Mitch McMichael, Eric Penney, Dan Perreault (coach), Johnny Powless, Rory Smith, Caleb Wiles
Out: Matt Beers, Cody Bremner, Brett Bucktooth, Alex Gajic, Mike Grimes, Chris Hall (coach), Brett Hickey, Jeff Moleski, Matt Roik, Kyle Sorensen, Nick Weiss
IR:
PUP:
Holdout:
Practice Roster: Kyle Belton, Conrad Chapman, Cody Hadegorn, Matt Delmonico

Lots of changes for the last-place Stealth. The biggest is Johnny Powless, who they have been pushing as their team superstar. Wonder how Rhys Duch feels about that. Joel McCready wasn’t just a throw-in in that deal though; he, Tyler Hass, and Tyler Burton (giving Vancouver 5 of the 7 Tylers in the league) combine with Ilija Gajic and Tyler Garrison for a pretty strong transition core. Rory Smith adds grit to their defense, and Eric Penney supplants Matt Roik as Tyler Richards’ backup.