Its been over four months since the Colorado Mammoth won the NLL title, but a lot has changed this offseason. The addition of the Desert Dogs on top of a flurry of changes through trades and free agency have created a buzz entering NLL training camps. With the NLL regular season less than a month away, it is time to look at the biggest question for each team heading into the season. This week we will take a look at the NLL Western Conference.
Can Brett Hickey and company replace Curtis Dickson? For the second offseason in a row, the Roughnecks lost a franchise legend to the Seals. While the team was able to survive the loss of Dane Dobbie last season, it will be interesting to see how they replace the leadership and scoring punch that Dickson provided for the Roughnecks. Brett Hickey is a very talented player and has proven to be a scorer in the league, but after a down year last season, will he bounce back and be the scorer Calgary will need?
Can the champs continue their offense by committee approach? When Ryan Lee and Eli McLaughlin went down during the playoffs, everyone expected Colorado to struggle to score in the playoffs, but Zed Williams, Connor Robinson, and the rest of the Mammoth offense silenced the doubters and outlasted the Bandits offense claiming the 2022 NLL title. With Ryan Lee still out, the Mammoth will still need their other stars to repeat their postseason scoring to keep up with the rest of the NLL Western Conference.
Las Vegas Desert Dogs
Will Vegas be “Comin In Hot?” Las Vegas has made headlines this offseason adding names like Rob Hellyer, Charlie Bertrand, and Zack Greer, but do they have a complete competitive team that can make noise in a loaded NLL Western Conference?
Does Panther City make the playoffs in year two? Panther City had a solid first year as an expansion team, finishing with an 7-11 record placing them 11th overall in the league and were still in the playoff hunt until the second to last week of the season. With the addition of 2021 No.1 draft pick, Jonathan Donville, and trading for Tony Malcom, is it enough to push Panther City into the playoffs?
San Diego Seals
Is there such a thing as too much offense? San Diego was loaded on offense last season, but with the addition of Curtis Dickson and Kevin Crowley, San Diego easily has the best offense in the NLL Western Conference. It will be interesting to see if all the pieces on offense can mesh and play well together, or will San Diego have too much of a good thing.
Will the Rush be any better in 2023? The Rush missed the postseason for the first time since 2011, and had some franchise legends retire or go to play elsewhere this offseason. The Rush do have some youth coming in as reinforcements now that their 2021 picks are eligible to play this season, but is it enough for them to improve in the standings? With most of the NLL Western Conference improving, it’s hard to see the Rush winning more games in 2023.
Does the offseason frenzy pay off for Vancouver? Vancouver might have had the busiest offseason of anyone not named Las Vegas. Vancouver hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017 and with Mitch Jones, Reid Bowering, and 2022 first round pick Owen Grant, Vancouver needs to drastically improve and prove to the city of Vancouver that they are trending in the right direction.