Last week, we got you prepared for the NLL season with the big question facing each of the West Conference teams. With only a few weeks to go before the regular season starts, it’s time for us to look at the questions surrounding the NLL East Conference.
Did the Firewolves retool or are they rebuilding? The Firewolves lost their three top scorers in Joe Resetarits, Ryan Benesch, and Andrew Kew. While it would be hard for any team to replace that level of scoring, the Firewolves definitely focused on getting younger. Maybe Glenn Clark believes he can win right away with his new players, but from the outside looking in, it looks like Albany is building for the future not the present.
Can the Bandits finally get over the hump? The Bandits have made it to the last two finals but have fallen short both times. Will the Bandits be able to overcome their championship struggles? We know the Bandits still have one of the most dangerous offenses with 2022 MVP Dhane Smith and they should still easily make the playoffs. Will the third time be the charm? Or will the Bandits come up short once again?
Does Georgia have enough defense? Georgia scored the fourth most goals in the league last season and will be adding former No.2 pick Ryan Lanchbury this season. However, the Swarm allowed the fourth most goals in 2022. With Mike Poulin retired and Mike Manley being their biggest defensive acquisition, it will be interesting to see if Georgia can outscore their deficiencies on defense.
Can Halifax recapture its 2020 magic? Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, Halifax was in the midst of a championship caliber season. Most people thought that would continue last season, but Halifax was more Jekyll and Hyde last season. Do they find consistency and insert themselves with Toronto and Buffalo as legit NLL East Conference contenders, or do they struggle to find consistency again in 2022-23?
New York Riptide
What does year two for Jeff Teat look like? Jeff Teat scored 108 points in his rookie season and there is every reason to believe he will only improve as a player in year two. Could he challenge Dhane Smith’s single season record? Can he lead the Riptide to the playoffs? It will be interesting to see the growth of not only him, but the Riptide as a team in general in 2022-23.
Will the defense take pressure off Zach Higgins? Last season Zach Higgins saw the third most shots in the league with 688. Even with the offensive assault put on him he still finished with fifth in league with a .801 save percentage. If Philadelphia wants to be a true contender in the NLL East Conference, they need to suit up defensively. Steph Charbonneau and Alex Pace led the way last season with 17 caused turnovers which was tied for 35th in the league. If the Wings want to improve this season, it starts on defense.
Will Connor Fields lead Rochester to new heights? Connor Fields has been traded two times in as many seasons, but now he will be the offensive focal point for the Knighthawks. We all know Fields is incredibly talented and has proven he can score with the best of them, but he has always been a secondary option offensively. As the leading “returning scorer” for Rochester, what will the offense look like with him as the main man?
Is this Toronto’s year to win the NLL East Conference? Toronto has been a top three team in the NLL East Conference three of the last four seasons. The Rock has lost to the NLL East Conference champion in each of those playoff seasons. Against Buffalo they lost the NLL East Conference Finals series by one goal in both games, including their last second heartbreak. While the trade of Rob Hellyer will hurt, Toronto added Corey Small and added Chris Corbeil which will definitely boost their defense and transition game. Will it be enough to finally get over the hump and back to the NLL Championship?