When the Roughnecks open the 2015 season they won’t look very different roster wise with a lot of players already signed to the team for next season but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any holes in their line up to fill. They are without Andrew McBride and Scott Ranger as of now, but that might change.
To crack the Roughnecks roster in recent years, junior stars have learned to adapt and change their style of play to crack the talent and experience laden roster. For instance, Karsen Leung was a junior offensive star in Jr. A until he was drafted by the Roughnecks and basically realized he wouldn’t make the team on the offensive side of the ball. He learned to play solid defence and how to adapt to the speed of the NLL game and as someone who can pick up a tough loose ball to start the transition game he is starting to be known for and able to put the ball in the net on that huge part of today’s fast and high energy game.
The one thing the ‘Necks need to solidify is their back end. Not that it can’t shut down any offence in the league. They shut down the potent offensive talent of the Edmonton Rush and eventual NLL champs Rochester Knighthawks to show how far they have come in recent years on their back end but they still have work to do.
When the Roughnecks get to choose their first pick (sixth overall) it would be an idea to start boosting their back end, and to get a player with close to pro experience is the way to go. Looking out east in the MSL, Robert Hope of the Peterborough Lakers could still be available in the first round and is a true stay at home defender that the Roughnecks could potentially put right in the lineup. He has a solid 192 lbs on a big 6’2” frame and knows how to shut the best offensive talent down. He only had 59 career junior points which means he can score, but with the depth on offence it isn’t needed but will be a nice addition.
Saying the Roughnecks are set on offence would be a stretch. Even with the depth you still need players that can support the front line and you also need to give some players the chance to fight for roster spots and make it a competitive training camp. Every player has to think they are vulnerable and having a few young guys to push the veterans is a great thing and a chance for them to learn and see exactly what it takes to crack a professional roster.
The game is so fast with recent rule changes, size isn’t necessarily the name of the game. When the ball moves as fast as it does and how potent a lot of players to put the ball in the net at during any possession, players have learned to adapt and find ways of making the pro game even when they are out of their comfort zone of how they played junior. Also, with field players making more of an impact now NLL teams have even more depth and options to bolster already talented rosters.