NLL Preview: Philadelphia Wings

Today the Philadelphia Wings make their return after a four year absence. The last time the sounds of “Sucks”, “It’s All Your Fault”, “W-I-N-G-S. WINGS” echoed in the Wells Fargo Center was April 26, 2014 in a 13-12 loss to the Colorado Mammoth. That season they were 6-12 (2-7) at home.

This new brand of Wings Lacrosse will bring players like Kiel Matisz, Brett Hickey, Vaughn Harris, Jordan Hall, Josh Currier and local product Matt Rambo together on offense. Defense will be led by veterans Dylan Evans and Zac Reid. The Wings picked up Davide DiRuscio from the Bandits to be one of the big men between the pipes. These are just some of the players they acquired during the expansion draft.

With Head Coach/GM Paul Day at the helm, the Wings have one of the top coaches in the NLL. Day was an assistant in Rochester and helped buil the historic team that three-peated from 2012-2014. Day is also the GM for the back-to-back Mann Cup Champion Peterborough Lakers.

When it was time for the entry draft, the Wings tagged Chris Cloutier from University of North Carolina as their first pick (2nd overall), and then in a bit of a surprise, Denver University faceoff superstar Trevor Baptiste was chosen in round two. These will be just a few of the names that will hopefully lead the new Wings to success.

During free agency the Wings signed goalie Doug Buchan. Buchan played this past summer with the Peterborough Lakers and compiled an 8-1 record and led the Major Series Lacrosse in goals against average and save percentage as a rookie. The Wings also added a trio of defenders. Montreal native Steph Charbonneau was outstanding in the Arena Lacrosse League and had a solid rookie season with MSL’s Cobourg Kodiaks. Liam Patten is another ALL standout and is Charbonneau’s teammate in Cobourg. He plays with an edge but also has the stick skills to contribute in transition. Brayden Hill is 6’4″ and over 200 pounds and won a Minto Cup with the Six Nations Arrows.

This team will obviously have some growing pains, especially with only having two weeks of camp. The Wings are strong on offense so goals should not be a problem, especially with Brett Hickey (26 PPG last 2 seasons), Josh Currier, Jordan Hall and Kiel Matisz. These players can also score, but look for them to be the quarterbacks during the power play and dishing out the assists. Rookie Chris Cloutier will also be a major part of the offense with his skill. Cloutier’s style of play reminds one of long time Wings’ veteran Jake Bergey.

The combination of Dylan Evans and standout star Trevor Baptiste on the face off draws should give this team plenty of chances on offense. The defense is young, but size is not a problem as the team defense average seems to be 6’3 220+ pounds.

I’m looking at a 9-9 team this season, but with a few bounces their way, could be a 10 or 11 win team.