NLL Training Camp: New England Black Wolves Preview

The New England Black Wolves open up training camp this weekend in Connecticut. This will be the first year this team is no longer known as the Wings or calling Philadelphia their home. 2015 will have some of the same names the Wings had on their roster but will also have many new ones.

The one that fans of the Black Wolves are happy to see is Kevin Crowley. Since Kevin was taken first overall in the 2011 draft he was a main part of the Wings. Last season, Kevin put up 75 points and had over 70 in each of the last three seasons. This winter he will be looked on not only for his scoring abilities but looked on to be even more of the leader with the departure of Brodie Merrill.

That is the biggest question this team has this season. How does any team perform once they trade away a future Hall of Famer such as Merrill?

Truthfully, I see some young talent stepping up to fill the role Merrill left. Good thing for New England they are rich with young players who have a great shot at making this roster, whether it is the active or practice squad. This team went into this past NLL draft and made moves to get players such as Mark Cockerton, Quinn Powless, Rod Squire, Matt Crough and Sheldon Burns. Oh, they also got a guy named Ty Thompson. These names plus a few others will have an NLL shot and an opportunity to play early in their pro careers.

On draft night trades were also made to get forward Jay Card and defender Mike McNamara who is fresh off his second Mann Cup Championship. The team also made offseason moves getting forwards Brett Bucktooth, Jamie Lincoln and got Mike Burke in the Merrill trade.

On the defensive side Mike Manley had a breakout year last winter—I look for him to lead the Black Wolves defense. This team will also have Joe White back as well as Brett Manney who just re-signed last week, which makes the Black Wolves a strong team coming out of the back door. In net will be Evan Kirk who, like McNamara, has won Mann Cups the past summers with Six Nations. Evan is one of the reasons the Wings traded away his Chiefs teammate Brandon Miller last year.
The real question is who will back him up. Kevin Croswell played in net in 90 NLL games for three teams so he has seen the second most game action. Chris Collins is coming off a weekend trying out for Team USA. He also was a member of the New York Titans and played MLL with the Bayhawks. For New England they may be a newer team with some young players but with the talent this team has I can see them doing some good things in 2014 and beyond for years to come. This weekend should be a special one to watch in the first steps these Wolves are taking.