Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 NLL Season Predictions

Ah, January, The time of year when the NLL starts its season and I steal Graeme Perrow's prediction format. Is there a better time of the year? Probably. Like, maybe summer. They play lacrosse then too and it's not so cold. Although, we have a warm winter so it hasn't been so bad. Anyways, on with the predictions!

East Division:
  1. Toronto Rock
  2. Buffalo Bandits
  3. Philadelphia Wings
  4. Rochester Knighthawks 
West Division:
  1. Calgary Roughnecks
  2. Edmonton Rush
  3. Washington Stealth
  4. Colorado Mammoth 
  5. Minnesota Swarm
Why you may ask? Well here's why nosy person!

East:

  •  Toronto won the Cup last year and have improved their offence and defense coming into this season. Yes they lost Kyle Ross, Creighton Reid, and Jeff Gilbert, but they also gained Bill Greer, Bruce Codd, a healthy Ryan Sharp. On offense they bring the human concussion Dan Carey and future Hall of famer Josh Sanderson. The Rock can only hope Carey can power through that awful sound they use for a shot clock that sounds like a train being derailed. Finally, in goal, Matt Roik will have some big shoes to fill blah blah blah blah you know the story. Honestly Matt Roik will be fine, calm down Toronto fans. With that team in front of him they could dress a shooter tutor and still grab a home playoff date and I think Roik is a tad better than that.
  • Buffalo is Buffalo. John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis, Mikey Thompson. Oh What's that? Sure lets throw in Kevin Buchanan, Luke Wiles, and Matt Giles. They will without a doubt compete for first in the East, but Toronto is the golden standard to me. 
  • Philadelphia was god awful last year. They scored less goals than everyone, even Colorado. The only thing that allowed them to actually win a few games was Brandon Miller. Now adding Dan Dawson, Brodie Merrill, and rookie Kevin Crowley into the mix and this team is dangerous. I have them third, but I won't be surprised if I am wrong. 
  • The Knighthawks lost both of their top 2 scores from last year when they traded Shawn Evans and Shawn Williams to Calgary and Edmonton respectively, and now have a potentially strong, but young offense. The squad has amazing talent, but inexperience will be their downfall. I don't expect them to be terrible, especially with Matt Vinc in goal, but the teams that they share the East with will make it tough for them to move from the bottom of the standings upward. 
West: 

  • Calgary surprised the league last year with their first place effort after trading away Josh Sanderson and Tracey Kelusky, both players being top 3 scorers. Jeff Shattler went from scoring 51 points in 2010 to scoring 75 points and capturing both the Transition Player Of The Year and the MVP awards, Scott Ranger went from 51 points in 2010 to 61 points in 2011, and rookie Curtis Dickson broke into the league scoring 52 points and winning the Rookie Of The Year. Even Mike Poulin added 5 points! This was either a year of gross overachieving or one where they reached their potential. I believe in the latter concept and see this team staying at the top. It also doesn't hurt when you add a guy who scored 73 points last year in Shawn Evans. 
  •  You can see my entire Rush breakdown here. If you are too lazy to read it, just trust me on this one.
  •  The Stealth didn't do much this offseason, and why should they? Why fix it if it ain't broken? Kyle Ross will strengthen their defense and a healthy Jeff Zywicki will make up for the loss of Luke Wiles. Tyler Richards finished his Summer season with a league leading .850 Save Percentage and stood on his head in the NLL Championship so expect a great season from him. I may have Washington finishing 3rd, but I'm not counting them out from another run at the cup.  
  • Colorado has boasted its defense with guys like Rory Smith, Jon Sullivan, Creighton Reid, and John Orsen. Another strong year from Levis and the Mammoth will likely keep a lot of balls out of the net. Now, they may have lost Brian Langtry and Dan Carey, but it's not like they had outstanding seasons last year anyways. Yes they added 75 points between them, but i'm sure they replaced them. Oh wait? They didn't? So who's going to score all the goals? Jr. and Prout? Good luck with that.
  • This offseason, the Swarm traded most of their roster for draft picks. We may all laugh now, but it is them who will be laughing in the future. Good thing for us is that that is the future and we can still laugh/question now.
MVP: Stephan Leblanc

Goaltender Of The Year: Tyler Richards

Defensive Player Of The Year: Kyle Rubisch

Transition Player Of The Year: Brodie Merrill

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