NLL Season Preview: Minnesota Swarm

Following a less than awesome 2014 for the Swarm, they look to move on in the new year with some drastic changes.    2013 saw several rookies take spots on the team and the continued youth movement did not pay off as hoped.   The Swarm went 4-14 last year, tying Vancouver for last place in the league.    So, we only thought things got shook up last year.   This year, it’s been turned on it’s head.

Let’s look at our offseason losses.  Gone are goaltender Tyler Carlson, D Jeff Gilbert, D Brock Sorensen, F Scott Jones, F Logan Schuss, and F Josh Gillam.

It’s being made increasingly clear that this is Higgin’s net to be taken away from him, and he has Brodie MacDonald to fill in, should he have any lapses.    The deepest losses this year are to defensemen Jeff Gilbert and Brock Sorenesen as well as forward Logan Schuss.    Gilbert and Sorensen were lost via trade for a draft pick and Mike Grimes respectively.   At present, Grimes is on the hold out list.   Logan Schuss is also on the holdout list as he has begun a new job and is unable to join the Swarm at this point.  Considering he was one of the top goal scorers, that’s going to leave a hole to fill.

There’s a lot of new faces.  Coming on board this season are draft picks Miles Thompson (f), Joe Maracle (f), and Shane MacDonald (f) as well as experienced players Dean Hill (f), Sam Bradman (t), Nick Cotter (t), and Ethan O’Connor (t).  Making up the practice squad are newbies Ian Crawford and Patrick Miles on D, and Marcus Holman at F.   The challenge is for these guys to help create some goals with the absence of Schuss and the move of Matisz from T to D, which may lower his offensive output.

But – there are guys returning.   We’ve got some leadership core coming back and some players to guide the new guys.   Returning are Callum Crawford (f) (A), Shayne Jackson (f),  David Earl (t), Jordan MacIntosh (t) (A), Jason Noble (t), Andrew Suitor (t) (C), Mitch Belisle (d), Alex Crepinsek (d), Greg Downing (d), Jordan Houtby (d), Kiel Matisz (d) and Zach Higgins (g).   There’s still a core from the 2013 playoff run as well as some building onto that core.    Crawford and MacIntosh, alongside Schuss, were the top scorers for the team last year.   I don’t foresee that changing.   Placing the second A on MacIntosh’s jersey only further recognizes his leadership on the field and makes it official.

The main challenge, obviously, is going to be scoring.   This will come if they rise to the second challenge which is to improve scoring chances and increase shots.   Like last season, this season cannot be won with only a fraction of the team shooting and scoring.  More effort, more teamwork, more cohesiveness is needed.    Defensively, they weren’t that bad last year; even with a new d-corps, they need to build on that.

In the preseason, they won all three games.   Here’s hoping that’s a good indicator of the rest of the season.


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