MLL Preseason Predictions: January

The MLL is unpredictable. Yes, the Outlaws have been very good during the regular season, along with the Bayhawks to round out the top two teams. Number three and four spots over the past couple seasons have varied. Hamilton moving, FIL on the horizon and the new NLL format will all effect this year’s outcome.

Last year, we saw Charlotte take down the undefeated Outlaws in a spectacular performance as the No. 4 seed in the tournament. Hamilton and Chesapeake battled to the finish with the team from Annapolis coming up victorious. All of this followed by a tight championship game that came down to the last tick, literally, with Matt Danowski’s desperation shot to bring the Hounds within one but with no time left.

1. Chesapeake Bayhawks—With their back-to-back MLL Championships, the Bayhawks have a chance to create history again in 2014 as they try for a three-peat. With the offseason moves they have made, along with their supplemental and college draft choices, Chesapeake has all the tools to three-peat. Face offs will be their biggest concern this season.

2. Denver Outlaws—14-0 during the regular season to founder at the line versus a second year Charlotte team. Chemistry on this team is well mixed and they have the personnel to make it back to championship weekend. They’ve been there every year since their inauguration but have come up empty handed every time as well. When will the curse be broken of the Outlaws? Can the addition of John Grant Jr. be the key?

3. Charlotte Hounds—The youth and skill level of this team is utter ridiculousness. There was not a better draft class in 2013 than what the Hounds had and that may be the same heading into 2014. They picked up Cummings to add to their ACC squad. Can they just change their name to the ACC Hounds? Coach Cerino has put together a very dangerous team. Like the Bayhawks, one question remains, face offs?

4. New York Lizards—You think you’ve been busy at work? Coach Spallina and the Lizards front office have been busier. Only four picks in the college draft, but they were good picks for what the team needed. Joe Fletcher (Loyola) and Luke Duprey (Duke) in back-to-back picks in the first round. Acquiring Kyle Hartzell along with Ned Crotty and Matt Striebel. They do send out Matt Gibson, Mark Matthews and Grant Cattalino, but you have to make moves to get better and that’s exactly what New York did. Should be weary after last season? Kind of. Everyone thought they were going to be the team to beat with the talent they had and they turned out to be the team that got beaten. Look out for the Lizards in 2014.

5. Rochester Rattlers—After missing the postseason by a game or so, the Rattlers needed to start fresh. Their college draft was one of the top two after everything was said and done. Jordan Wolf (Duke), Miles and Ty Thompson (Albany) and John Locascio (Villanova) were just their top four picks. Their offense will be insane, if not this year, then majorly in 2015. With Locascio’s job situation, it will be interesting to see if he ends up suiting up. Either way, the Rochester defense is standing strong with Galloway between the pipes and him having John Lade, Joel White and newly added MJ Kiekebelt in front of him. Rattlers will not be run over and will give every team a workout.

6. Florida Launch—Identity will be a big thing with the Launch heading into 2014. Their move down south from Hamilton may impact a lot of their Canadian players’ travel arrangements. Casey Powell will lead this team, if he suits up. New head coach Stan Ross is excited and ready for the season. He’s just wondering where his team will actually be playing come April 26.

7. Boston Cannons—Cannons fell off the map last year after they were one of the teams thought to have the best chances at championship weekend. They will be put to the test early as they open up with the Bayhawks on April 26 at home. Brodie Merrill is one of their newer personnel to dawn a Cannons jersey. With him and Kyle Sweeney down low, they can transition very easily. We will see a different defensive strategy as well with new D-coordinator, Tom Slate, calling the shots. Matt Poskay, Ryan Boyle and Paul Rabil will run the offense. One tough question is, will Boyle return for another shot at the title?

8. Ohio Machine—Young and still finding their identity. Bear Davis has done a great job since taking the helm. He added Princeton’s Tom Schreiber to his midfield lineup and that’s a huge addition. With their young guys (Holman, Stanwick, Houtby) the Machine have the talent to pull off some upsets. Team chemistry and identity is part of their problem. Midfielder Bill McGlone was picked up in the Supplemental Draft at No. 1 overall and said that the team is looking to be an up and down squad and push it in transition. We saw that last year towards the end of the season but with Hartzell gone, who will lead the charge?

Who do you think deserves the No.1 spot? What changes would you make to the rankings?

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