Transition is an interesting position in the NLL. Every team approaches it differently as some make them glorified defenders or just forwards that won’t get yelled at if they are stuck in the back end of the floor. Others such as Minnesota and Buffalo make them a large part of how they want to act as a team by causing turnovers, pushing the ball up the floor and creating mismatches on offense. This list was compiled by looking at those officially listed as transition players on last season’s rosters. While some players may fill this role, it may not be their official position on the roster (see Mark Steenhuis). Now with that out of the way, let’s take a look at who are the best 20 transition players in the NLL?
- Kiel Matisz
The Swarm rely more on the transition position than any other team in the league. Matisz is a big part of this as he contributes 12% of his team’s points, scored five power play goals and still collected 46 loose balls. What hurt him the most in this ranking is his 26 turnovers making his turnover to loose ball ratio a whopping 57%, highest on this list.
- Ilija Gajic
Vancouver carried a league low two transition players last year, but they exemplified the position. Gajic took 13 face-offs, recorded 16 points and collected 86 loose balls.
- David Earl
The next swarm player on the list is Earl whose ball protection earned him a spot. While chipping in 14 points and collecting 89 loose balls, he only tuned it over six times. His 23 caused turnovers is what triggers Minnesota’s fast break game. What helps him even more is his 38% shooting percentage when he is running the floor.
- Nick Weiss
Weiss stepped in for 26 face-offs on the season winning at a 46% rate. Along with his 13 points and 86 loose balls, he’s a big part of what Vancouver was doing all over the floor.
- Karsen Leung
Leung was a solid contributor for the championship runner-up Roughnecks. Collecting 93 loose balls and recording 29 points was a great way to mark his first season in the league.
- Joe Walters
Walters is listed as a transition player, but in reality is really a forward. Even with that in mind, his 41 points for the Knighthawks earns him a spot on the list as the former Maryland midfielder continues to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with indoors.
- Cameron Holding
Holding is the first player on the list to break the 100 loose ball threshold with 108 during the season. He also chipped in 23 points on seven goals and 16 helpers. His 19 caused turnovers was also a strong number for him.
- Brad Self
Rochester’s another team that doesn’t utilize the transition game much, but Self is the exception. He notched seven goals and 25 total points off of 131 loose balls. Self is regularly the one to provide the spark when the Knighthawks need it.
- Jesse Gamble
Speaking of teams not using transition much, Toronto led the league in fewest points out of their transition players. Their hallmark though is taking care of the ball. With Gamble’s 126 loosies, he only had eight turnovers. That ties him for the best ratio on this list at 6%
- CJ Costabile
Costabile is the first major faceoff specialist on the list, taking 283 on the season and winning 52% of them. This led him to 103 loosies, but his caused turnover and points totals were still pretty low relative to others.
- Joel White
Starting our highly competitive top ten is Joel White. While he only had four points on the year, his major calling card is that he led the position in loose balls among those who never took a faceoff with 128. Adding to this was his low turnover number of just 12.
- Ethan O’Connor
O’Connor, like Gamble, helped the Rock by collecting 133 loosies on the year and recording just 12 turnovers. Adding his 113 face-offs to mix earns him a spot in out top 10.
- Andrew Suitor
Swarm fans know Suitor from doing anything the team needs him to. He led this list in forced turnovers with 31, took 39 face-offs, collected 106 loose balls and scored 19 points.
- Dhane Smith
Smith tops the list with 39 assists while still picking up 79 loosies and forcing 17 turnovers. He also took eight face-offs on the year, but his 25% rate was nothing to brag about.
- Jay Thorimbert
Thorimbert took a staggering 454 face-offs, winning 56% of them. This led to 191 loose balls and a mere 12 turnovers. His 6% turnover to loose ball ratio tops the list and is a class above the other face-off specialists.
- Zack Greer
Greer takes the goal scoring title on the list with 30, bringing him into the top five. He also tied for the top spot in power play goals with five and collected 32 loose balls.
- Jeremy Thompson
Thompson took 435 face-offs for the rush at a 54% win rate. This contributed to 165 loosies and nine goals. What is more amazing about Thompson’s nine goals is that he scored them with a position high 41% shooting percentage.
- Brodie Merrill
Merrill was a huge part of everything the Wings did last year. If it weren’t for his lone face-off, his 189 loosies would’ve been topped Joel White’s title of most on the list without a face-off. He also managed to score 34 points and one power play goal. Given his success as a transition player and Toronto’s lack thereof, it will be interesting to see if or how his play changes for the Rock.
- Geoff Snider
As dominant of a face-off man as you can be, Snider led the position in face-offs attempted (493), won (317), percentage (64%) and loose balls (209). This all led to 17 goals and 33 points, which was good enough to be 7% of the Roughnecks’ combined goal total in 2014. He never had a game with a face-off win percentage under 50%, but matched that exact number twice against Edmonton. On the other hand, he did have one game against the Stealth where he broke 80%.
1. Jordan MacIntosh
Newly crowned as the NLL Transition Player of the Year, the RIT product earned that award with good reason. He led all on the list with 61 points, five power play goals, was second with 204 loose balls, forced 25 turnovers and took 430 face-offs. This led to taking 91% of the Swarm’s face-offs, picking up almost 16% of their loose balls, and adding just under 13% of the team’s scoring. In 2014, MacIntosh was the prototypical transition player in the NLL.