Philadelphia Wings– The obvious choices here would be Paul Rabil, Kyle Hartzell Ross & Buchanan. But the player to watch this season will be Kevin Crowley. After a fantastic rookie season in 2012, the sky is the limit for this second year player from New Westminster. Crowley tallied 36 goals and 35 assists for 71 points in helping to lead the Wings their first playoff appearance since 2008. In last years playoffs Crowley notched 4 goals and 3 assists. Crowley was also awarded rookie of the week in weeks 2, 7, & 11 of the 2012 season.. Now in 2013 Crowley will still have Drew Westervelt, but also new additions Kevin Ross and Kevin Buchanan along with Rabil Hall, White who came via trade with Rochester that sent Dan & Paul Dawson north. Also…Don’t sleep on the rookies and free agents either!!!
Rochester Knighthawks…the defending 2012 Champions. Johnny Powless. Powless started the 2012 season at the age of 18 (turns 20 on March 15). He tallied 26 goals and 24 assists in his rookie season, alond with 5 goals and 6 assists in the 2012 playoffs. Now at the age of 19 he is about 3 to 4 years ahead of the players coming out of college. Along side of Powless he has Cody Jamieson, & second overall pick Stephen Keogh. Now he gets to add Dangerous Dan Dawson to players to learn from and be on the offense with and he could increase his goal/assist total dramatically.
Buffalo Bandits.. Anthony Cosmo.. After an off-season prior to 2012 which saw Cosmo be selected by the Swarm then traded to Buffalo, Cosmo started out very slow as the Bandits had a revolving door throughout the 2012 season between the pipes. Bandit fans are hopeful that the Cosmo of old is between the pipes, add to that the normal cast of dangerous characters…Tavares, Steenheuis, and first round pick Dhane Smith.
Toronto Rock… Have to go with Nick Rose and Garrett Billings. How can you not go with both of these players. Rose started the 2012 season in Calgary going 3-2. On March 19th the Rock traded for Rose and by doing so Rose established himself as the starter ion Toronto by going 5-1 for the Rock. And over the summer Rose played in the WLA for the Coquitlam Adanac’s going 10-7 with a 7.53 GAA. Billings set the record for assists in a single season (82), Billings also tallied 32 goals, so look for Billings to have another MVP type of year.
Colorado Mammoth.. Goaltending is what to look at this season.If the pres-season is any indication of how the season will go, it could be a long season for the Mammoth. In the game vs Calgary the Mammoth goaltenders let up 20 goals. Yes, Junior, Sean Pollock and Ian Hawksbee weren’t in the lineup, but if allowing 20 goals a game, even those three wouldn’t of helped. Hopefully for the Mammoth, they find the correct mixture of goalies for this season between Dan Lewis, Chris Levis and Matt Roik.
Calgary Roughnecks…This team is so well balanced who do you chose? You can make an argument for anyone here, Shattler, Ranger, Evans, Veltman, etc.. these for alone averaged 26.75 goals and 41.75 assists. Six of the 23 players scored 50+ points (Dickson & Dobbie) My choice here is Veltman. After a stellar 2009 in which he scored 34G & 43A he seems to be on that track again after last years 20G/42A output. If Veltman can produce like he did in 2009 it may be a banner year for him.
Edmonton Rush…….Mark Matthews The #1 overall pick in this years draft, has already been touted as this seasons Rookie of the Year. Can Matthews be the one to take the Rush to the promise land? Can one player have that much of an impact? Matthews and the Rush will need strong support form Ryan Ward, Tom Johnson, Kyle Rubisch and strong goaltending to get to the promised land.
Washington Stealth.. Again have to go with 2 players. Athan Iannucci and Lewis Ratcliff. After working together in the WLA this summer with the Langley Thunder and leading them to another Mann Cup appearance, can this dangerous duo carry that same chemistry back to the NLL? If they can, all I have to say is WATCH OUT!! Iannucci and Ratcliff work very well together, and had the teams in the WLA scratching there heads as to what to do. Add Rhys Duch to this mixture and the Stealth may become a playoff contender once again.
Minnesota Swarm… WOW, who do you chose. 4 first round picks you have to watch all 4 Brock Sorenson (2), Kiel Matisz(3), Shayne Jackson(4), and Alex Crepinsek(10). All four of these players have held there own in camp as well in the pre-season matchups. For me I am looking forward to seeing how Jackson performs at the NLL level. He obviously excelled in the WLA (Thunder) at 5’9” 180lbs he is one of the smallest players, but extremely quick and has a blistering & accurate shot Matisz and Sorenson go 6’5” 215lbs & 6’6” 220 respectably and will add a lot of size to the transition game. Alex Crepinsek is 5’11” 185lbs but a very strong defender so do not take his size for granted