NLL rosters are finalized and we are officially underway. There have been some marquee players that surprisingly have been cut from rosters, including guys like Athan Iannucci and Dean Hill from Vancouver, Gavin Prout and Casey Powell (who said he will sit this NLL season out) from Colorado, Derek Hopcroft from the Bandits, Mike Accursi from the Knighthawks, and Corbyn Tao from Minnesota. Will these players go the entire season without being signed to another team? Probably not, but you can certainly see the immediate impact of smaller rosters due to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo via Coyote Magic Action Shots
First I’ll run through the teams 2013 seasons, then we’ll get to some previews, and the LAS crew will try to pick all the winners for this weekend’s game!
Buffalo: Finished 6-10 last season. John Tavares managed a career low 39 points last year but is back for another go. Let’s see if he can stay healthy. Alex Kedoh-Hill will not be playing in the NLL this season. Last season, he was released by Rochester, spent time in the CLax, was signed by Buffalo, and then finished the season strong as a defender for the Bandits.
Calgary: Finished 9-7 last year. They return the core of their leading scorers and rookie Tor Reinholt is shaping up to be a solid draft pick.
Colorado: Finished 7-9 last season. No more Casey Powell or Gavin Prout. They did add Drew Westervelt, a potent offensive weapon. They also traded Ilija Gajic for Bob Snider and now have a true dominant face-off specialist. John Grant Jr has been named the captain of this team.
Edmonton: Finished 9-7 last season. The Rush had one of the best defenses in the league, and are quietly building one of the most dangerous offenses as well. Mark Matthews will be entering his second season and they add a dynamic scorer with draft pick Riley Lowen.
Minnesota: Finished 7-9 last season. This is a very young team with the average age being just 24. They boast a highly talented rookie class with first-round draft picks such as Logan Schuss, Jason Nobel, and Scott Jones. More than half of their roster is either first or second-year players.
Philadelphia: Finished 7-9 last season. The Wings had a very talented group of American field players who transitioned well to the box game. Brendan Mundorf, Max Seibald, Paul Rabil, and Ned Crotty are likely not to play this NLL season in order to stay healthy for the 2014 world games. This is a team in flux.
Rochester: Finished 8-8 last season and won the Champion’s Cup. Rochester resigned most of its star players to long team deals. Craig Point, Sid Smith, Matt Vinc, Cody Jamieson, and Dan Dawson are all locked up for many years to come. These core players are the main reason Rochester has back-to-back championships, and they want them to stay and win more.
Toronto: Finished 10-6 last season. No truly major moves or signings in the off-season. The Rock have been playing well but they can’t seem to win it all. Rookie Eric Law should be a great addition to the team however.
Vancouver: Finished 10-6 last season as the Washington Stealth. They lost to Rochester in the NLL finals and have made it there three of the last four seasons. They added Ilija Gajic but cut Athan Iannucci. Will their offense be more team oriented in 2014?
Previews & Predictions
- Philadelphia Wings @ Buffalo Bandits
Mark Donahue – Buffalo Bandits: Buffalo over Philly – Philly took a hit with players, I think Buffalo will be hot this season, home opener with a new look.
Chris Rosenthall – Buffalo Bandits: Buffalo – Wings have some big losses in the offseason, it may take them a while to get things going.
Ryan Connors – Buffalo Bandits: Bandits did some rebuilding and recovering in the off season. They will be prepared and ready to go.
Connor Wilson – Buffalo Bandits: It’s hard to pick Philly here with all the changes they’ve made. The Bandits have good goaltending, and I’m guessing some cohesion with their new coach.
- Minnesota Swarm @ Rochester Knighthawks
Mark Donahue – Rochester Knighthawks: Swarm will be great, and take a close loss early – Rochester is at home, they lost the preseason game to Swarm which has them wanting revenge, I predict a close victory.
Chris Rosenthall – Rochester Knighthawks: Rochester – Opening night atmosphere should be worth a few extra goals for the back to back defending champs.
Ryan Connors – Rochester Knighthawks: The amount of championships some of the Knighthawk players have won in the past year is more than some will ever win in their career. Winning leads to more winning.
Connor Wilson – Minnesota Swarm: Rochester plays together a lot, and they have good chemistry, but I like the Minnesota youth to help them win this early season game. I’m more concerned with how Minnesotra will fair later in the season, but I think they’ll come out hot early in 2014.
- Edmonton Rush @ Colorado Mammoth
Mark Donhaue – Edmonton Rush: Edmonton’s D will be solid again, looking for the O to click, Mammoth need to score goals all across the floor, and can’t just rely on veterans. I expect Matthews and co. to get it together this season starting in Denver.
Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton Rush: Tough call, but I need to see some improvement over last season’s Colorado defense before picking them in a matchup like this.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton Rush: The Rush take a hit on the offensive end with the loss of Corey Small but should be able to put up big numbers with Mark Matthews.
Connor Wilson – Colorado Mammoth: It’s a home game for Colorado, and they can straight up win draws. Add in what should be a potent offense running through Junior, and I’m less concerned with their defensive failings from last year.
Each week I will keep track of our correct picks as well as break down some of our NLL Fantasy moves. Be sure to reach out to all of us on social media and let us know your picks and fantasy roster.
Correct Picks Running Tally:
Connor Wilson (0-0)
Chris Rosenthall (0-0)
Mark Donahue (0-0)
Ryan Connors (0-0)
Let’s get this party started already!