Brodie Merrill Boston Cannons vs Ohio Machine Credit Jeff Melnik 2015 atlanta blaze
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MLL 2016 – Who Is Where Now?

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Tom Bovee to LaxAllStars.com! Tom will be joining LAS and focusing his efforts on Major League Lacrosse with weekly MLL 2016 recaps and reports, plenty of opinion, and a deep look into the best annual field lacrosse league on the planet! Welcome Tom to LAS, and read his stuff. The man knows MLL like few others!

MLL 2016 Offseason Moves

With the MLL draft now in the rearview mirror, and the MLL 2016 season starting in just 12 short weeks, we take a look at what these teams have done this offseason so far and what moves helped them the most. Who’s ready to battle for an MLL Championship this year?

Atlanta Blaze

First game: April 23rd home against Chesapeake
Key Additions: Scott Ratliff, Cannons. Joe Cinoski, Hounds. Adam Ghitelman, Cannons. Randy Staats, Rattlers. Mark Mathews, Rattlers. Coach John Tucker.
Draft Picks: Round 1 – Pick 1 – Myles Jones, Midfield, Duke. Round 2 – Pick 1 – Deemer Class, Midfield, Duke. Round 2 – Pick 6 – Tyler Albrecht, Midfield, Loyola. Round 3 – Pick 1 – Greg Danseglio, Defense, Maryland. Round 5 – Pick 1 – Warren Hill, Goalie, Syracuse. Round 7 – Pick 1 – Case Matheis, Attack, Duke
Biggest Addition: Miles Jones. Atlanta won the draft when they got Jones. He has the potential to be a generational player.
Question Mark: Why didn’t anyone want Deemer Class?
Could Surprise: Warren Hill. The step up is not too much for him. He has seen teams just as talented as he will face in MLL, though maybe not the same number of shots per game.
Offseason grade: Incomplete.

They get an incomplete due to the Charlotte Hounds. When the last expansion draft happened I drank the Kool-Aid and jumped on the Hounds bandwagon only to realize it wasn’t all I wanted. Atlanta did some great things. They got the best player in the draft, they have rounded out the roster in coach Tuckers image. They took the coach and best player from a playoff team. Everyone I have talked to says they should be a dangerous team. I will reserve judgement until I see them play as every MLL team is a player or 2 away from the top or the bottom.

Boston Cannons

First Game: April 23rd @ Charlotte.
Key Additions: Mason Poli, LSM Hounds. Justin Turri, M Atlanta (via Rochester). Coach Sean Quirk. Brodie Merrill (facebook status: It’s complicated)
Key Losses: Scott Ratliff, Ryan Tucker, Coach John Tucker. Adam Ghitelman, Jordan Burke (retired)
Draft Picks: Round 1 – Pick 6 – Greg Coholan, Midfield, Virginia. Round 1 – Pick 9 – Brandon Mullins, Defense, Syracuse. Round 4 – Pick 6 – Challen Rogers, Midfield, Stony Brook. Round 5 – Pick 6 – Jake Matthai, Midfield, UNC. Round 6 – Pick 6 – John Uppgren, Attack, Tufts. Round 7 – Pick 6 – Matt Thistle, Attack, High Point. Round 8 – Pick 6 – Cameron Bell, Goalie, Endicott
Biggest Addition: Brandon Mullins, with Ratliff gone they might not be able to run the 4 pole system all season.
Question Mark: How did Rogers fall so far? And Who the HECK is going to play goalie?
Could Surprise: Uppgren should leave Tuffs as the D3 all-time leading scorer. He just finds ways to make plays. He could slide in with Manny and Emala very easy.
Offseason Grade: C+

It is hard to give the Cannons a better grade when you look at the fact they traded their best player (again), lost the reigning coach of the year, lost last year’s top draft pick, and last year’s starting goalie. That being said they had a very strong draft. Positioned themselves with 3 first round picks in next year’s draft and got Brodie Merrill back after losing him. This is still a dangerous team with Will Manny and most improved player Davie Emala back to lead an offense that will have to at least slightly alter its transition attack without Scott Ratliff. How much does new head man Sean Quirk change up what worked so well last year is a big question mark.

Ohio Machine vs Boston Cannons July 2015 2016 mll 2016

Charlotte Hounds

First Game: April 23rd Hosting the Boston Cannons
Key Additions: Kevin Crowley, Bayhawks. Steve Ianzito, Rattlers. Steven Keogh, Launch.
Key Losses: None.
Draft Picks: Round 1 – Pick 2 – Dylan Donohue, Attack, Syracuse. Round 1 – Pick 4 – Ryan Brown, Attack, Johns Hopkins. Round 2 – Pick 4 – Pat Young, Midfield, Maryland. Round 2 – Pick 9 – Nick Doktor, Attack, Penn. Round 3 – Pick 2 – Colin Woolford, Midfield, Denver. Round 3 – Pick 8 – Brendan Caputo, Midfield, Brown. Round 4 – Pick 1 – Tyler White, Goalie, Towson. Round 5 – Pick 2 – Goran Murray, Defense, Maryland. Round 6 – Pick 2 – Jospeph Radin, Attack, Marist. Round 7 – Pick 2 – Evan Connell, Defense, UNC. Round 7 – Pick 9 – Zack Sikora, Defense, Rutgers. Round 8 – Pick 2 – Shane Morrell, Attack, Bryant
Biggest Addition: Donohue and Brown. Combine with Sankey you now have a scary attack unit that complements each other.
Question Mark: This draft feels very un-Hounds-ish? Murray can’t be counted on with his academic history and this team needed some defense.
Could Surprise: Tyler White, Had him as the top goalie in this draft. He was the key factor in Towson having the top defense in the NCAA last year.
Offseason Grade: B

Joey Sankey New York Lizards vs Charlotte Hounds Jeff Melnik (15 of 47)

The 2015 Hounds can be described as easy as this: despite all the players being mostly local Atlanta didn’t touch their roster in expansion. The Hounds like to “win” the offseason. Every year I love their draft class and yet they don’t often show on field results from these classes. This year the Hounds class is no different. They built a nice young attack core and got a few athletic midfielders. They took players from all over and not just local guys and they appear to have a plan in place. With this draft they now have a number of players who no longer fit and what the 19 man looks like will be interesting. Week 1 Charlotte looks a lot different than week 5 unlike last year.

Chesapeake Bayhawks

First Game: Friday April 29th Hosting Florida.
Key Additions: Dana Wilber, Machine. Brian Phipps, Machine. Alex Love (sup. Draft) Coach Tom Mariano
Key Losses: Ben Rubeor (retired) Chris Hipps.
Draft Picks: Round 3 – Pick 4 – John Maloney, Midfield, Albany. Round 4 – Pick 4 – Mark Glicini, Midfield, Yale. Round 6 – Pick 4 – Zach Herreywers, Attack, Loyola. Round 7 – Pick 3 – Michael Howard, Defense, UVA. Round 7 – Pick 4 – Carter Brown, Attack, Ohio State. Round 8 – Pick 4 – Holden Cattoni, Midfield, Johns Hopkins
Biggest Addition: Coach Mariano. He was a huge part of why Ohio was so good on D, and the Bayhawks gave him back 2 of his favorite toys.
Question Mark: How much does this team need Brendan Mundorf back?
Could Surprise: Maloney might be the best player nobody talked about last year.
Offseason Grade: C

2015 Chesapeake Bayhawks 2015 Photo Credit Ben Ludeman

The core of the Bayhawks is another year older. This team still boasts a lot of talent but each of those players comes with a question mark. When will Walters be available? Will Danowski miss any time? Is Brendan Mundorf capable of coming back in his old form? Wilber had a major injury last year but was having his best season before that. How he comes back and which goalie is going to play are just more questions. I hope more of those answers are yes. Plus I really want to see Alex Love break out his underhanded style in MLL.

Denver Outlaws

First Game: Sunday May 1st vs the Machine.
Key Additions: Erik Adamson, Luke Duprey , Andrew Hodgson
Key Losses: Jesse Schwartzman (Retired), Justin Pennington, Jeremy Noble,
Draft Picks: Round 1 – Pick 5 – Matt Kavanagh, Attack, Notre Dame. Round 2 – Pick 5 – Stephen Jahelka, Defense, Harvard. Round 3 – Pick 5 – Matt Hossack, LSM, RIT. Round 4 – Pick 5 – Sam Llinares, Attack, Hofstra. Round 5 – Pick 5 – BJ Grill, Defense, Marquette. Round 6 – Pick 5 – Tim Barber, Midfield, Syracuse. Round 7 – Pick 5 – Jack Kelly, Goalie, Brown. Round 8 – Pick 5 – Conor Helfrich, FO, Tufts
Biggest Addition: Kavanagh’s year last year was an aberration. He is a top 2 or 3 player in this year’s class. He has plenty of skill to star at the MLL level.
Question Mark: They might not stop anyone but they should score 20+
Could Surprise: Kelly and Jahelka are both very high lacrosse IQ players who have shined in the Ivy League. Watch Llinares get some playing time and do very well also.
Offseason Grade: B-

New York Lizards vs Denver Outlaws Photo Credit Jeff Melnik July 9 2015

Think back, do you remember an Outlaws game without Jesse Schwartzman? I have been to many games including All Star Games and championship weekends but it has been a few years since I have gone to a game and not seen Jesse playing for Denver. I don’t know what MLL looks like without him and neither do the Outlaws. They will enter the season with some big question marks on the back line and having waited till round 2 to pick a defender might be dangerous. If Duprey plays that becomes a huge pickup but that is not a for sure. It can’t be overstated that Denver also lost its glue guy in Pennington, he did all the dirty work. Hodgson missed a lot of time with injury at Towson but he is an MLL caliber player. The Outlaws will march out an amazing offense that might or might not include last year’s leading scorer. Wesley Berg, John Grant Jr, Eric Law, Drew Snider, The Bocklets and Jeremy Seiverts joined by Matt Kavanagh, buy your tickets in advance folks.

Florida Launch

First Game: Saturday April 23rd Hosting the Machine
Key Additions: Owen Blye. Boston, Ken Clausen. Denver, John Ortolani, Rattlers.
Key Losses: Casey Ikeda
Draft Picks: Round 1 – Pick 3 – Matt Landis, Defense, Notre Dame. Round 2 – Pick 3 – Henry West, Midfield, Maryland. Round 3 – Pick 3 – Liam Byrnes LSM Marquette. Round 3 – Pick 7 – Steve Pontrello, Midfield, UNC. Round 4 – Pick 2 – Gunnar Waldt, Goalie, Bryant. Round 4 – Pick 3 – Robby Haus, Defense, Ohio State. Round 6 – Pick 3 – Devin Dwyer, Attack, Harvard. Round 8 – Pick 3 – Alex Spring, Defense, Bucknell
Biggest Addition: Landis might be the best defender to come out of college since Joe Fletcher.
Question Mark: Why did you trade for Nikko Pontrello when he could have been had for nothing, he struggled last year after being a first round pick but you paid for him like he was a starter.
Could Surprise: Liam Byrnes gives the Launch a true LSM like they have never had.
Offseason Grade: B+

Ohio Machine vs Florida Launch 8.9.14 Major League Lacrosse

The grade is helped by the MLL moving the season back and allowing the Launch more time with the Thompsons. Florida played its best lacrosse at the end of last year and they have all the right pieces on offense to be dominate. They added some defense in this draft and that just might be the missing piece. This will be a team that if they get rolling MLL coaches will not want to face.

New York Lizards

First Game: Saturday April 23rd Championship rematch hosting the Rattlers.
Key Additions: Cam Flint. Jordan Hall. Michael Kimmel. Dave Lawson, Rattlers Jake Tripuka, Hounds.
Key Losses: Ned Crotty, Ryan Walsh
Draft Picks: Round 3 – Pick 6 – James Pannell Attack Virginia. Round 4 – Pick 9 – Jacob Richard, Defensive Midfield, Marquette. Round 5 – Pick 4 – Ryan Ambler, Attack, Princeton. Round 5 – Pick 8 – David Manning, Defense, Loyola. Round 6 – Pick 9 – Brody Eastwood, Attack, Stony Brook. Round 8 – Pick 9 – Scott Bieda, Attack, Rutgers
Biggest Addition: Championship rings! The Lizards traded away this offseason last year for a championship.
Question Mark: How did Spallina get all those players without losing anything? The salary cap might be their biggest opponent this year.
Could Surprise: How do any of these Rookies see the field?
Offseason Grade: A-

Rob Pannell New York Lizards vs Denver Outlaws Photo Credit Jeff Melnik July 9 2015

New York needed nothing, they had the most loaded roster in the MLL. Yet they lost nothing in the expansion draft besides Walsh, whose availability is a question mark. They added veterans Hall and Kimell for nothing. Traded for Lawson and Tripuka. And took a flier on Cam Flint who is no slouch. Hod do the other teams think they are going to stop New York? It’s like waiting for a bully to get tired of beating you up or growing out of it.

Ohio Machine

First Game: Saturday April 23rd at Florida
Key Additions: Mark Cockerton. Rattlers, Adam Fullerton. Launch, Matt Harris, Jack Rice. Bayhawks, Sam Snow, Launch.
Key Losses: Dana Wilber, Brian Phipps, Jimmy Dailey, Brian Farrell (retired), Defensive Co. Tom Mariano
Draft Picks: Round 1 – Pick 8 – Michael Quinn, Defense, Yale. Round 2 – Pick 2 – Kyle Bernlohr, Goalie, Maryland. Round 2 – Pick 7 – Bryan Cole, Midfield, Maryland. Round 4 – Pick 7 – Bobby Schmidt, Defense, Bellarmine. Round 5 – Pick 3 – Dan Lomas, Attack, High Point. Round 5 – Pick 7 – Mike Messenger, Midfield, Limestone. Round 6 – Pick 1 – Cameron Williams, Midfield, Colgate. Round 6 – Pick 7 – Zack Powers, Defense, UNC. Round 7 – Pick 7 – Vince Gravino, Attack, Canisius. Round 8 – Pick 7 – Derek Kihembo, Defense, Johns Hopkins
Biggest Addition: Getting Scotty Rodgers and Dom Alexander back. With Phipps having to move for availability reasons they needed Rodgers steady presence and Alexander gives them swagger.
Question Mark: would you have traded down if you know Dunn would be there at 7?
Could Surprise: Schmidt could have gone earlier if not for an injury. He is a monster.
Offseason Grade: C

Ohio Machine vs Boston Cannons July 2015

Cockerton gives you another option for a lefty attackmen but also tells me that Logan Schuss is never coming back. The defense lost its coordinator and that might be the biggest loss as Rodgers can step in and they won’t miss Phipps much. Still getting Quinn just makes up for losing Wilber and this team feels like they treaded water this offseason. Aside from a few defenders I don’t see the offense changing much, but in this case that’s ok, for now. I do not see that big breakthrough move here.

Rochester Rattlers

First Game: Saturday April 23rd at New York.
Key Additions: Ned Crotty. New York, Curtis Dickson (very unlikely)
Key Losses: Dave Lawson, Justin Turri, Mark Mathews, Randy Staats, Kevin Rice.
Draft Picks: Round 1 – Pick 7 – Matt Dunn, Defense, Maryland. Round 2 – Pick 8 – John Edmonds, Attack, Cornell. Round 4 – Pick 8 – TJ Neubauer, M, Fairfield. Round 6 – Pick 8 – Blaze Riorden, Goalie, Albany. Round 7 – Pick 8 – Eric DeJohn, Midfield, St. John’s. Round 8 – Pick 1 – Austin Schutlz, Defense, Army. Round 8 – Pick 8 – Sal Tuttle, Attack, Adelph
Biggest Addition: Jesse King, Sure he didn’t get added this year but with all that they lost they really need him to make the trip from Columbus up to Rochester and play like a #5 pick should. My personal hatred for OSU doesn’t leave a lot of confidence in this one.
Question Mark: Why does Coach Soudan always try to replace Will Koshansky? He has played far better than most teams’ #3 defender.
Could Surprise: Neubauer is a monster and he should be able to play the crease for them and maybe be a poor mans Randy Staats.
Offseason Grade: D+

John Locascio Rochester Rattlers New York Lizards MLL Championship 2015

With a Healthy Mike Manley, adding Jesse King to the lineup, and getting anything from Jordan Stephens this team just MIGHT be AS good as it was last year, maybe. The problem is last year was only good enough for 2nd place and it will take some players stepping up and over achieving to get there. Matt Dunn is a difference maker on defense but this team was already very strong on the defensive end. They needed replacements for the guys they lost and they didn’t get it despite trading up.

So there it is! The rich (New York) somehow got richer, and everyone else is seemingly playing catch up from Day 1. I can’t wait for the season to begin so all the other franchises can prove me wrong. Locker room material, you’re welcome.