2017 NLL Predictions

Here are my predictions for the final regular season standings as well as the major annual awards. The “Dark Horse” predictions are my “not as likely but could happen” picks.

Final Standings

East

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

West

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

Individual Awards

MVP

Winner: Mark Matthews
Short list: Shawn Evans, Dhane Smith
Dark horse:  Adam Jones

Goaltender of the Year

Winner: Aaron Bold
Short list: Dillon Ward, Nick Rose
Dark horse: Frank Scigliano

Robert HopeDefensive Player of the Year

Winner: Robert Hope
Short list: Ryan Dilks, Kyle Rubisch, Graeme Hossack
Dark horse:  Mitch de Snoo

Transition Player of the Year

Winner: Karsen Leung
Short list: Alex Kedoh Hill, Chad Tutton, Chris Corbeil
Dark horse:  Challen Rogers

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Ryan Keenan
Short list: Challen Rogers, Mike Messenger
Dark horse:  Kieran McArdle

Les Bartley Award

Winner: Troy Cordingley
Short list: Derek Keenan (though you could put his name here every year)
Dark horse: Jamie Batley

GM of the Year

Winner: If the Rock are above .500 and make the playoffs, Jamie Dawick. Otherwise, Steve Dietrich
Short list: Derek Keenan (though you could put his name here every year)
Dark horse: Curt Styres or Doug Locker

This was a tough one since the Rock, Knighthawks, Swarm, and Stealth made a lot of moves but I’m not terribly confident in them. Most other teams didn’t make many at all.

Advertisements

2016 NLL Awards

As we do every year, the IL Indoor staff have each submitted our choices for a number of annual awards. On Addicted to Lacrosse a couple of weeks ago, the three of us went over our choices for those awards as well. Here are the picks I announced on A2L:

  • MVP: Shawn Evans, New England
  • Rookie of the Year: Randy Staats, Georgia
  • Transition Player of the Year: Alex Kedoh Hill, Buffalo
  • Defender of the Year: Chris Corbeil, Saskatchewan
  • Goalie of the Year: Nick Rose, Toronto

Not all of the IL Indoor winners have been posted yet, so I’ll just include the ones here that have. My choice is listed first, followed by the winner in brackets.

Goaltender of the Year hasn’t been announced yet but I’ll say here that when doing my IL Indoor picks, I changed my mind and voted for Dillon Ward (sorry Nick). I’m now… well, not exactly regretting that decision since Ward did have a great season but if I were to submit my picks now, I think I’d stick with Rosey (sorry Dillon).

But there are a couple of other awards that weren’t included in either list, so I wanted to cover them here.

Tom Borrelli Award (Media Person of the Year)

Teddy Jenner. I mean no disrespect to the recent winners of this award, all of whom are deserving, but I’ve had Teddy as my Borrelli pick for several years now. Given how much he does for lacrosse every year, I’m kind of surprised he hasn’t won this. He is an all-around sports guy for sure (from hockey to basketball to Teddy Jennerrugby – huddy huddy, whatever that means), but clearly lacrosse is his passion. He does colour for various TV broadcasts, he’s been doing his Off the Crossebar podcast for several years, he writes for IL Indoor (and his 30 Second Shot Clock articles this past season were awesome – insightful thoughts from his many-times concussed head), he had a lacrosse radio show (also called Off the Crossebar) in Vancouver for a couple of years, he was the on-floor host of the Stealth when they were in Washington, and he’s active on twitter. Did I miss anything? Probably.

He clearly knows the NLL but he’s just as knowledgeable (if not more) about the WLA, MSL, MLL, NCAA, as well as senior, intermediate, and junior A, B, C, and any other letters there are. He knows the game as well as anyone and loves to talk about it, and we love to hear him talk about it.

Full disclosure: I’ve never actually met the man in person but we’ve been Twitter-buds for a few years. Then again, Teddy’s Twitter-buds with everyone. He interviewed me on his radio show once, and I interviewed him for this blog a few years ago.

Honourable mention: Paul Tutka. Given his year-long twitter rant about how to improve the NLL (which came down to “change everything but the game itself, and even change some of that”), it’s unlikely that the league will honour him again, but three-time Borrelli winner Tutka is still one of the most knowledgeable lacrosse writers around. He wrote a preview of the 2016 Champion’s Cup series which is about as in-depth as any article you will ever see. I read stuff like that and think “WTF am *I* doing writing about lacrosse? I don’t have a hope of covering things to that level of detail.” The old adage about “he’s forgotten more about lacrosse than I’ll ever know” has never been more apt.

But I’ve decided that I cater to a different audience. I’m going for the “I want to read articles written by someone who doesn’t know anywhere near as much about lacrosse as Paul Tutka” demographic. And I’m killing it, thankyouverymuch.

I guess more full disclosure: The Money Ballers column that I’ve been writing on IL Indoor for the past five seasons was created and written by Tutka for the previous five seasons. Again, though, I’ve never met him personally.

Executive of the Year

Lee Genier, Saskatchewan Rush. The lowest attended game in Saskatoon this year was their second game, when they had 8,624 come out. Again, that’s the lowest attendance this year. The Edmonton Rush only had three regular season games higher than that in the previous six seasons. They went from 7th in the league in average home attendance to 3rd in one year. Saskatchewan averaged 11,737 per game, an average higher than every Edmonton Rush season – in fact the Edmonton team only had four games higher than that ever. One of those four was a Championship game and another was $1 ticket night.

Lee GenierWe certainly can’t give all the credit for the success of the team in Saskatchewan to Mr. Genier, the President of the Rush, but there’s no question that he’s been instrumental. The Rush didn’t have the crazy theme nights they had in Edmonton, when they put Twitter handles on their jerseys and brought in wrestlers and GSP (who, it turns out, is not me despite those being my initials) and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and other celebrities. Not that these were bad ideas, but if you’re filling your arena based solely on the lacrosse team, those extras just aren’t necessary.

They even held a rally on a Friday afternoon (not a game day) and got a thousand people out. Can you see that happening in Edmonton?

Now, Edmonton averaged over 10,000 per game in their first two seasons, and then it started to drop off until it was down in the mid-6,000’s by 2015. Could that happen here too? Sure it could. But the first season of the Saskatchewan Rush has been an unqualified success, regardless of how the team does in the finals.

Honestly, I have no way to know if Mr. Genier himself is the architect of the plan that brought in the big crowds. Maybe the award should go to owner Bruce Urban, or the entire Rush marketing team, or someone else. But Genier is one of the more public NLL team Presidents, popping up on social media and doing radio and TV interviews and such. The way that Saskatoon has embraced the Rush is partially due to lacrosse being an exciting sport and partially due to their team being the defending champs and one with a very good chance of repeating. But getting the word out to the public and getting the local businesses and politicians involved takes significant work and Genier and his team have done an outstanding job.

Sportsmanship Award

I have no particular opinion on this award, but I will fearlessly predict the three finalists for the 2016 NLL Sportsmanship award:

  • Eli McLaughlin, Colorado
  • Corey Small, Vancouver
  • Travis Cornwall, Vancouver

If they don’t want to put two Stealth players on the list, the third would be John LaFontaine from Saskatchewan.

It’s not really much of a prediction, it’s just the non-goaltenders with the most games and lowest penalty minutes. None of these guys picked up a single penalty in 2016. McLaughlin and Small played 18 games, Cornwall 15, and LaFontaine 13.

2016 Pre-season predictions revisited

We’re just past the mid-season point, so I’m going to look over my pre-season predictions for the standings and major awards and see how things are progressing. I don’t think I got any of my major award picks right (except for a “maybe” in ROY), but a few of my “dark horse” picks were surprisingly accurate.

Standings

In the East I had Rochester, Toronto, Buffalo, Georgia, and New England in that order. Clearly New England is doing better than I thought and Toronto is not, but if you swap them and also swap Rochester and Buffalo, I nailed it.

In the West, I had Saskatchewan, Vancouver, Colorado, and Calgary. Obviously I greatly overestimated Vancouver’s success this season. Move them to the bottom and I’m right again.

MVP

Prediction:  Mark Matthews, who’s always a good choice for this award and is having a good season with 66 points in 11 games. But Dhane Smith is on pace to outscore Matthews by almost fifty points and beat the single-season scoring record by 25. Smith is the clear winner here.

Goaltender of the Year

Prediction: Aaron Bold. Again, always a good choice and is having a good season but right now, I’d have to give this to my dark horse choice, Nick Rose, closely followed by Mike Poulin.

Defensive Player of the Year

Prediction: Sid Smith but I’m going to have to go with Chris Corbeil on this one. I watched the Rush defense against the Rock at the ACC recently and they not only prevented looks and shots very well, but they were also really good at knocking the ball out of a forward’s stick and then scooping up the resulting loosie. I thought Corbeil was particularly good at this. He can also score in transition (6 goals so far) and on one transition chance going the other way in the Rush/Rock game, he caught up to Jesse Gamble, which I didn’t think was even possible.

Kedoh says no!Transition Player of the Year

Prediction: Karsen Leung. Leung’s numbers aren’t where they were last year and he didn’t score until his 8th game, so I’m going to go with another dark horse prediction, Alex Kedoh HIll. Hill has 25 points and 73 LBs and is a major part of the Bandits’ super-fast transition game.

Rookie of the Year

Prediction: Wes Berg. No idea if I got this right or not. In terms of points, Berg, Randy Staats, and Jesse King are all within 3 points of each other. But Swarm transition player Chad Tutton is also having a great rookie season, with an impressive 11 goals and is playing solid defense. Graeme Hossack in Rochester is also playing some great D. This might be a cop-out, but I’m going to say there’s no clear winner at this point so we’ll have to see what the second half of the season holds.

Les Bartley Award

Prediction: Dan Perreault. Um, yeah. Not only is Perreault not the coach of the year, he’s not even employed in the NLL right now. I did have Glenn Clark as my dark horse pick, and the way the Black Wolves are playing, he might be my mid-season choice.

GM of the Year

Prediction: Doug Locker. Um, yeah. I still think Locker did a pretty good job in the off-season, picking up Billings, Moleski, Hawksbee, and Travis Cornwall, and the Schuss-for-Powless deal last year was great for both teams. I don’t think it’s his fault that the team isn’t playing well but that said, I can’t give the GM of the Year award to a guy who created a sub-.500 team. John Arlotta also made some significant changes to the Swarm and in three or four years this might be a really good team but similarly, since they’re currently 4-8, we can’t say that now. Plus we’ve thought “this team could be really good in a couple of years” about the Swarm for ten years now and they just never seem to get there.

I may have to go back to the Black Wolves, as GM Chris Seinko did a great job to trade for Shawn Evans, reacquire Kevin Crowley, and also bring in guys like Dan Ball, Derek Suddons, and Sheldon Burns, all of whom are contributing on this surprising team.

2016 NLL Predictions

My predictions for the final regular season standings as well as the major annual awards. The “Dark Horse” predictions are my “not as likely but could happen” picks.

Final Standings

East

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

West

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

Individual Awards

MVP

Mark MatthewsWinner: Mark Matthews
Short list: Garrett Billings, Ryan Benesch
Dark horse:  Brett Hickey

Goaltender of the Year

Winner: Aaron Bold
Short list: Matt Vinc, Dillon Ward
Dark horse:  Nick Rose

Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Sid Smith
Short list: Kyle Rubisch, Robert Hope
Dark horse:  Ryan Dilks

Transition Player of the Year

Winner: Karsen Leung
Short list: Joey Cupido, Jordan MacIntosh
Dark horse:  Alex Kedoh Hill

Rookie of the Year

Winner: Wes Berg
Short list: Randy Staats, Lyle Thompson, Jesse King
Dark horse:  Reilly O’Connor

Les Bartley Award

Winner: Dan Perreault
Short list: Mike Hasen
Dark horse:  Glenn Clark

GM of the Year

Winner: Doug Locker
Short list: I’m not sure whether I’d nominate the Swarm GM (whoever that is) if they do well, since I think I could have drafted just as well with that many first round picks in a draft that deep.
Dark horse:  Jamie Dawick

2016 Preview: West division

A short summary of each team’s offseason moves, where I think they will end up in the standings, who might have a breakout year, and as always, a haiku for each team. I covered the East yesterday, today it’s the West.

RoughnecksCalgary Roughnecks

Roster Changes

Lost Evans, McBride, Pollock, Snider, Moleski, and Veltman and replaced them with Tyler Digby, a bunch of rookies, and a third goaltender. And they only have one person on their practice roster. If the rooks step up big, they could be OK but given their struggles last season with those big-name guys, this could be a scary season for the Roughnecks.

Then again, a few years ago the Roughnecks lost both Tracey Kelusky and Josh Sanderson in the off season and replaced them with Daryl Veltman and a rookie named Curtis Dickson. Everyone thought it would be a disaster but they went on to win the West with the best record in the league.

Look out for

Wes Berg. My pick for ROY. You can’t replace Shawn Evans, but Berg will certainly give it a shot.

Prediction

Fourth in the west.

Haiku

Tyler Digby’s here
Two Carnegies, two Harnetts
Only one de Snoo


MammothColorado Mammoth

Roster Changes

The Mammoth are down Drew Westervelt and Alex Turner (91 points) but Callum Crawford (on pace for 80 last year) should make up for most of that. They also have Ilija Gajic returning; ironically they signed him as a free agent right after cutting Bob Snider, the guy they traded Gajic for. They also released Dan Ball and Ian Hawksbee and lost Cam Flint and Tyler Codron to injury. John Gallant, the only remaining original Mammoth, didn’t play much last season so his retirement won’t have a huge impact. They did sign Greg Downing from the Swarm and added a group of rookies.

Look out for

Ilija Gajic. He and Joey Cupido will make a pretty awesome transition team.

Prediction

Third in the west

Haiku

No more Westervelt
But added Callum Crawford
And Ilija is back


RushSaskatchewan Rush

Roster Changes

Same team as last year, plus Curtis Knight. The west is theirs to lose. Not much more to say than that.

Look out for

Ben McIntosh was third on the team in scoring last year but I can see him leaping over Robert Church into second. Not sure he’ll surpass Mark Matthews though.

Prediction

First in the west

Haiku

Curtis Knight is back
Great O, great D, best goalie
Can the Rush repeat?


StealthVancouver Stealth

Roster Changes

Lost Digby but added Billings. Added Beers, Moleski, Cornwall, and Hawksbee. Lost Hass and Rory Smith but only temporarily. So far, the most improved team in the league. But they also lost Tyler Richards. Eric Penney has played 346 minutes in his career with a GAA of almost 15. Chris Levis hasn’t played an NLL game since January 25, 2013 – almost three years. If the goaltending doesn’t pan out, they may need to score 16 goals a game to have any chance of success.

The Stealth had 5 guys named Tyler on their team last season, but they’re starting 2016 with only one. Can they survive?

Look out for

Garrett Billings. Hardly an out-on-a-limb prediction, but 2015 was very un-Billings-like. With extra recovery and practice time plus playing in his home town with Duch, Schuss, Small, and McCready I think Billings will be back to his Toronto Rock level of dominance.

Prediction

Second in the west.

Haiku

Billings has come home
Stealth have rebuilt the defense
But Richards is gone

2016 Preview: East division

A short summary of each team’s offseason moves, where I think they will end up in the standings, who might have a breakout year, and as always, a haiku for each team. We’ll start with the East, then cover the West tomorrow.

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

Roster Changes

Obviously the biggest news for the Bandits is the retirement of John Tavares. But with only 32 points in 10 games last year, he wasn’t having nearly the impact on the offense that he used to. Dhane Smith and Ryan Benesch are the anchors of that offense now. They did add Daryl Veltman, who averaged 53 points a year over his five years in Calgary.

Andrew Watt is injured, Derek Suddons is in New England, David Brock is on the practice roster, and Chad Culp is suspended for one game. The Bandits have four rookies on their roster.

Look out for

Smith and Benesch already make a formidable scoring combo, but adding Daryl Veltman will give them another weapon. He had somewhat limited playing time being behind Evans, Shattler, Dickson, and Dobbie but in Buffalo, Veltman could see a jump in both his playing time and numbers.

Prediction

Third in the east.

Haiku

Veltman on the O
Is great, but no JT means
Confused Bandits fans


SwarmGeorgia Swarm

Roster Changes

Josh Gillam returns after missing last season, Drew Petkoff signed as a free agent, and the Swarm have a bunch of big-name rookies joining their ranks including first rounders Randy Staats, Jesse King, and Chad Tutton as well as first overall pick Lyle Thompson. None of these four have a single NLL game to their credit but given their pedigrees, I imagine opposing teams are still concerned about facing them. Adding Staats, King, Gillam, and Thompson to an offense that already includes the likes of Johnny Powless, Kiel Matisz, Shayne Jackson, and Lyle’s brother Miles could make for a pretty potent offense.

Only one goalie on the roster for now, but Brodie MacDonald will likely be moved from the PUP list by the time opening day rolls around.

Look out for

Lyle Thompson is the obvious choice, and I’m sure he’ll have a great season. But at the Rock / Swarm preseason game in December, I heard the name Randy Staats an awful lot as well. Either one of these guys is my choice for the Swarm. Or Jesse King.

Prediction

Fourth in east but if I had to pick one NLL team to be the dark horse, it’d be the Swarm.

Haiku

Swarm moved to Georgia
Much warmer in winter, but
Will fans show up?


BlackWolvesNew England Black Wolves

Roster Changes

The Black Wolves pulled off a pretty big trade in getting Kevin Crowley back from Toronto, and then a huge trade in grabbing reigning MVP Shawn Evans. Adding these two guys, even at the expense of losing Garrett Billings, should make your team better, and I think it has. And don’t underestimate the value of a vet defender like Derek Suddons.

But half of the announced Black Wolves roster wasn’t on the team at the end of 2015. Add to that a new coaching staff and a last place finish last year and my expectations aren’t all that high for the Black Wolves. Shawn Evans is one of the game’s best players and has an outstanding work ethic, and so maybe some of that will spur the team on to great things. But someone has to finish last and for me, there’s too much uncertainty here to rank them any higher than that.

The Black Wolves have a new head coach in Glenn Clark, and Hall of Famer Jim Veltman joins Clark and Tracey Kelusky as an assistant coach. Blane Harrison resigned as head coach after last season, saying that his family moved to Michigan and the travel would be too difficult. Makes sense, except for the fact that he’s now an assistant coach with the Georgia Swarm.

Look out for

Quinn Powless only played 3 games last season before an injury ended his season, but he’s back and healthy and could have a big impact this year.

Prediction

Fifth in the east.

Haiku

Glenn Clark is the coach
Crowley’s returned but mostly
Shawn Freaking Evans


KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

Roster Changes

Not many, but one could be pretty substantial. Brad Self is on the shelf (see what I did there?) as is Angus Goodleaf, Zac Reid is in New England, and Colin Boucher is out. But I’ve heard great things about #2 overall pick Graeme Hossack. Not that the Knighthawks had serious defensive problems, but can you ever have too much defense?

Brandon Styres (the son of owner & GM Curt Styres) is the new backup goaltender but when you’re backing up a workhorse like Matt Vinc, don’t expect to see a lot of floor time.

Look out for

As a defender, Hossack won’t make the score sheet often but he was chosen ahead of guys like Wes Berg and Randy Staats for a reason.

Prediction

First in the east.

Haiku

Not enough Graemes
In this league so thanks to the
Rochester Knighthawks


RockToronto Rock

Roster Changes

Not a lot of changes for the Rock, but one could be either a temporary setback or a significant blow to the offense. Josh Sanderson, coming off a 102-point season (his best in 5 years), has announced that he will not begin the season on the active roster since he’s not physically ready to play. If this lasts just a few weeks before he’s back, I’m sure the Rock offense can step up in his absence. But he’s also hinted that this could mean retirement, in which case the Rock are down 102 points from last season, the vast majority of which were assists.

Kevin Crowley was also returned to New England after effectively being borrowed for the last 1/4 of the season and the playoffs. In return, the Rock got forward Dan Lintner, who I was pretty impressed with in the exhibition game against Colorado in mid-December. At 5’9″, he’s not a big guy but was a dynamic player and when you’re replacing Josh Sanderson (as much as a future hall-of-famer like Sanderson can be “replaced”), you don’t need to be big.

Also joining the offense is Turner Evans, a cousin of Shawn and Scott. Evans is also not a big guy (also 5’9″) but he picked up a couple of goals and a bunch of assists in the pre-season.

Look out for

It wouldn’t be considered a “breakout season”, but Brett Hickey has looked outstanding in the pre-season, scoring 14 goals in the Rock’s three games, putting him on pace for 84 goals in 18 games. This is supremely unlikely, but I think he could certainly break 50 again in the regular season.

Prediction

Second in the east.

Haiku

No Sanderson, but
Hellyer and Hickey ready
to run the offense

2015 Predictions revisited

As many sports bloggers do, I made predictions at the beginning of the season. But as many sports bloggers don’t do, I’m going to go back and see what they were and how I did. I covered some of these on last week’s Addicted to Lacrosse show. I recently had to submit my votes for the IL Indoor annual awards, so for each of the awards below, I’ve listed my pre-season prediction as well as my post-season votes.

Standings:

East

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

West

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

Three correct out of nine. I wasn’t nearly as optimistic with the Rock as I should have been. I was also far too optimistic with the Roughnecks, but so was everybody else.

Annual Awards

MVP

Prediction: Dan Dawson, Cody Jamieson, Ryan Benesch
Vote: Shawn Evans, Mark Matthews, Ryan Benesch

Jamieson and Dawson had very good years, but not MVP-worthy. Benesch was great, especially down the stretch. But Evans was outstanding.

Goaltender of the Year

Prediction: Aaron Bold, Matt Vinc, Mike Poulin
Vote: Matt Vinc, Aaron Bold, Frankie Scigliano

No surprises from the first two, and I really struggled to decide who got the top vote. And I got the wrong Calgary goalie.

Defensive Player of the Year

Prediction: Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, Brock Sorensen
Vote: Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, Sid Smith

I did vote Sorensen fourth.

Transition Player of the Year

Prediction: Jeremy Thompson, Geoff Snider, Karsen Leung, Jordan Hall
Vote: Joey Cupido, Karsen Leung, Jay Thorimbert

Hall didn’t play transition this year, and Thompson had another very good season but Cupido stole the show.

Ben McIntoshRookie of the Year

Prediction: Miles Thompson, Ben McIntosh, Chris Attwood
Vote: Ben McIntosh, Jeremy Noble, Miles Thompson

Attwood didn’t even make the Knighthawks, so that was totally wrong. Miles Thompson had a good rookie season but McIntosh was better. Didn’t have Noble on the list at the beginning since it seemed unlikely he’d play at all.

Les Bartley Award

Prediction: Curt Malawsky, Mike Hasen, Troy Cordingley, John Lovell
Vote: Derek Keenan, Mike Hasen, Curt Malawsky, John Lovell, Troy Cordingley

No idea how I missed Keenan at the beginning of the year.

GM of the Year

Prediction: Terry Sanderson, Curt Styres, Steve Govett, Chris Seinko
Vote: Terry Sanderson, Curt Styres, Steve Govett, Derek Keenan.

Nailed the top three on this one. I even voted Seinko fifth since I thought he did pretty well at the trade deadline. Getting Billings, one of the top two players in the league over the last few seasons, for Crowley was a good deal and grabbing Suitor from the Swarm was good too. It was just too late in the season to turn things around, and the fact that Suitor got hurt again didn’t help.

Team predictions – East

For each team, I made a “Look out for” prediction – a player who I thought would have a great season. Some of them I nailed, others I didn’t quite get right, and in one case, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Dhane Smith (Photo: Larry Palumbo)Buffalo: Dhane Smith. Nailed this one. Smith went from 59 points in 18 games last year to 107 this year.

Minnesota: Miles Thompson. Not a bad choice, though Shayne Jackson might have been a better one.

New England: Kevin Buchanan. Again, not a bad season. Pat Saunders would have been the breakout player for the Black Wolves.

Rochester: Chris Attwood. Didn’t even make the team. We’ll call that a “miss”. I don’t know who I’d pick from the Knighthawks as having had a breakout season since everyone on the team played at or near what I expected. Maybe Craig Point, since he hadn’t played 15 games in a season since 2011.

Toronto: Brock Sorensen. I thought Sorensen had a very solid year with the Rock and even put him on my list for Defender of the Year. But you might be able to make an argument for Brett Hickey here.

Team predictions – West

Calgary: Karsen Leung. I thought Leung had another solid season and I voted for him as Transition player of the year. But for a breakout season, I’d have to go with Frankie Scigliano, who grabbed the starting goalie job from the struggling Mike Poulin a few weeks into the season and never gave it back.

Colorado: Dillon Ward. Ward didn’t have a great season, but good enough to grab second in the west. Breakout player on the Mammoth would be Jeremy Noble, Eli McLaughlin, or Alex Buque.

Edmonton: Corey Small. Mostly right, except for the team. Small only lasted 2 games with the Rush before being traded to the Stealth, where he had his best season ever. For the Rush, a better choice would have been Zack Greer, who beat his career best points/game average by almost a full point.

Vancouver: Joel McCready. Nailed it. I even said the Powless experiment wouldn’t be the huge success the Stealth were hoping for. We’ll call that a 2-for-1, which offsets the Rochester failure.