Paul Tutka is a multi-time winning NLL writer of the year award winner, and one of the smartest experts in lacrosse. However, after leaving NLL Insider a few years ago (pre IL Indoor era) he hasn’t been writing anywhere. Yet, his Twitter analysis of the league has taken the lacrosse world by storm, and I was lucky to speak with him about a few matters in the league in this four part interview series.
Marisa: Can Logan Schuss become an elite NLL scorer?
Paul: Personally, I think last year he already proved he can be an elite scorer at this level. Took him a couple minutes to get his feet planted, but after that only five players across the league scored more than him. 36 goals is no chump change for a vet let alone a rookie. Can he do that consistently? I think that’s the big question. He’s wide open for a soph slump obviously, especially sine he only joined the team after their season started, but personally, I think he has superstar power written all over him. Schuss is legit and I think having him in the mix in 2015 makes Minnesota relevant again in the East playoff picture.
Marisa: Is it time for Kevin Crowley to become a leader?
Paul: I think New England definitely needs that from him, especially after moving the likes of Brodie Merrill and Jordan Hall over the off-season. The team obviously stitched an ‘A’ on his sweater with hopes of him filling that role. Thought he looked really good after Game 1 at The Casino. Think the current environment with the Black Wolves gives him a lot of opportunity to do big things both as a top point producer and leader in the NLL.
Marisa: Who do you think takes the goalie job in Toronto?
Paul: Well, first off, I think Nick Rose was unfairly judged at times last year in Toronto’s crease. He just didn’t have consistent support in front of him a lot of nights, and seemed to become the easy one to point the finger out. The fact that the Rock made upgrading the men in front of their keeper over the off-season proves that point. With that said, they now have two great tendies in Rose and Brandon Miller. Miller was a guy that took a while to gain a starting spot in the NLL. For years he was considered a great backup, but was never really given the green light to go full-time all the time. I think Nick can learn a lot from Brandon’s experiences in this league, and obviously a ton on and off the floor too. Not sure there’s a better duo in the NLL right now. So who’s the starter? It would certainly seem like Toronto has Miller in that spot, but I would think Rose will get a good deal of minutes too. Developing Steve Fryer, who has excelled at other levels and is on their pracky roster, benefits them in their crease too. Lots of depth in goal for the Rock.
Marisa: Now with the second year of shortened rosters how do you feel about it?
Paul: I’ve talked to a lot of people throughout the league that feel it’s negatively affected the last 15, sometimes even 30 minutes of games. Saves the owner’s a couple bills I guess. I prefer two extra guys on the floor. In my opinion it’s taken some of the toughness out of the league. But then again, I’m a mark for guys like Tim O’Brien, who probably would never have slipped into today’s version of the NLL.
Marisa: Will Edmonton’s scoring be even better with Small back? Who replaces Knight?
Paul: Well Small back helps considerably, but is kind of negated with Knight sidelined for the season. Although they have vastly different styles, as far as offensive output, Ben McIntosh should help bump up the team’s scoring with Knight sidelined. Big Ben and Miles Thompson should battle hard for that rookie scoring crown. I think they’ll still be a high producing offensive cast, but obviously missing Knight hurts a lot. He was simply outstanding for most of 2014 and his stock was soaring in my opinion.