The 2017 NLL season saw the Calgary Roughnecks miss the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history, the first time being their inaugural season (2002). After what was a disappointing year, Calgary needs to make some changes to herald a new look and a new approach for 2018.
Following an 8-10 season where the Roughnecks finished with the seventh-most goals for (212) and the sixth fewest goals against (220), the team needs to improve on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, changes made over the summer will do little to improve the situation.
Transition Karsen Leung announced his retirement from pro lacrosse after a year in which he didn’t play a single game due to injury. In the three seasons he was an active member of the Roughnecks, Leung amassed 80 points and 253 loose balls in 50 games. His absence from Calgary’s lineup in 2017 was a big part of the reason their offence was weak—nobody on transition or defence averaged a point per game and none of them scored 10 goals or more. If Calgary can’t find someone to lead the transition game, the Roughnecks will continue to struggle.
To make matters worse, former MVP Jeff Shattler went to the Saskatchewan Rush via free agency. As a 32-year-old, Shattler’s best years are likely behind him. However, he was fourth on the team in scoring in 2016 (71 PTS) and third in loosies (96). Shattler’s contributions to this team over the years cannot be understated and they will not be able to fill his shoes.
The Roughnecks have four draft picks in the first two rounds tomorrow night, including the third-overall selection. They will need to find some players who can step onto the floor immediately and have an impact or they simply will not be able to compete with teams like the Rush.
Calgary has a couple of bonafide superstars, like Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie, and a bunch of good players, like Dan McRae, Tyler Digby, Frankie Scigliano and Scott and Mike Carnegie. But they need impact players, right now, not more depth guys. If they can’t find at least one budding star tomorrow, they’ll be in for another long season in 2018.