16 Reasons to Watch the NLL in 2022-23


It might be a matter of when, not if, Jeff Teat wins his first NLL MVP.

The National Lacrosse League is set to return for its 36th season on Friday, Dec. 2, when the Philadelphia Wings head to Halifax to take on the Thunderbirds.

And the lacrosse world has plenty of reasons to be excited.

In preparation for the upcoming campaign, here are 16 reasons to tune in to the action inside the box this winter.

1. It’s easy to watch.

Every NLL game is available to stream in the United States through ESPN+, with 10 additional games available across ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNews.

2. A first look at the Las Vegas Desert Dogs.

The NLL’s 15th franchise is led by a star-studded ownership group and a has a Hall of Fame player behind the bench in Shawn Williams. Will they be able to repeat the impressive success Panther City saw as an expansion squad last season?

3. Panther City’s next step.

Tracey Kelusky earned NLL Coach of the Year honors after helping the boys down in Fort Worth exceed all expectations. PCLC finished 7-11, backed by strong performances from Patrick Dodds and Will Malcom. This year, they add former No. 1 overall pick Jonathan Donville to the mix.

4. The National Lacrosse League’s new leadership.

Brett Frood was named the league’s new commissioner in August following Nick Sakiewicz’s six-year run and Jessica Berman’s brief stint in an interim role. Frood brings lacrosse experience, having played collegiately at Brown University, in addition to a history of success as president of the Stewart-Haas Racing NASCAR team. Frood has already detailed his interest in expanding the league’s corporate and digital footprints. Will that be evident in his first year at the helm?

5. The San Diego Seals offense.

The squad made an enormous splash in the offseason by adding Kevin Crowley and Curtis Dickson in free agency. That’s 171 combined points from last season infused into the lineup. But will they mesh quickly with Austin Staats, Wes Berg, Dane Dobbie, Casey Jackson and Mac O’Keefe? And can their additions be enough to help secure Brodie Merrill his first NLL title?

6. Old faces in new places.

Crowley and Dickson weren’t the only players to swap uniforms. Also rocking new digs are Joe Resetarits (Philadelphia), Chris Corbeil (Toronto), Shawn Evans (Vancouver), Rob Hellyer (Las Vegas), Andrew Kew (Georgia), Reilly O’Connor (New York), Randy Staats (Halifax), Connor Fields (Rochester) Corey Small (Toronto) and Chad Tutton (Philadelphia).

7. Dillon Ward’s hot streak.

The veteran goaltender has been on a tear, backing the Mammoth to a title last winter before claiming a second championship in the summer with the Premier Lacrosse League’s Waterdogs LC. Can he continue to add to his trophy case?

8. Brodie Merrill’s 17th NLL season.

Merrill is still chasing his first NLL championship, and the Seals are better positioned than ever before for a deep playoff run. Merrill is tied for second all time in forced turnovers (239), eighth in penalty minutes (527) and first in loose balls (2,662). He’ll continue to add to his illustrious career during his age-41 season.

9. The rookies we’ve been waiting for.

Three of last year’s top five picks in the NLL Draft opted to go back to school for one more season, including Donville (Panther City) and No. 2 pick Ryan Lanchbury (Georgia). A year older than the typical first-year player, will they be ready to make an immediate impact? Our guess is yes.

10. Electrifying goals.

Want a peek at what you’ll see in the NLL? Here you go.

11. The duels at the faceoff X.

Field lacrosse fans will recognize some of the names that have made the faceoff battles thrilling — especially in the East. Jake Withers, Trevor Baptiste, Joe Nardella, Jay Thorimbert and TD Ierlan put on a show last season, all winning over 59 percent of their draws.

12. A chance to watch American stars in a different setting.

Are you a PLL fan new to the indoor game? There are names you’ll recognize outside of the aforementioned faceoff specialists. Tom Schreiber has become a critical piece of the Toronto offense; Philadelphia features Matt Rambo, Blaze Riorden and John Ranagan; and the Rochester Knighthawks are looking to build around Connor Fields. That’s before mentioning the PLL’s Canadian and Native players who’ve starred outdoors, like reigning NLL MVP Dhane Smith, Lyle Thompson and Zach Currier.

13. The Thompson brothers playing together.

Three of the four Thompson brothers will play together on the Georgia Swarm — Lyle, Miles and Jeremy. Playing with Panther City last year, Jeremy Thompson excelled as a veteran presence on an expansion team. Georgia announced on November 21 that they had acquired him via trade. They’ll face their other brother, Hiana, three times this season as a member of the Albany FireWolves.

14. To see if the Buffalo Bandits finally get over the hump.

Buffalo entered the last two postseasons as the top seed and has made it to the NLL Finals both times. The group wasn’t able to finish the job either time, falling to Calgary in 2019 and Colorado last season. Is this the year the Bandits finally raise their first banner since 2008?

15. Dhane Smith’s (or someone else’s) chase for the NLL single-season points record.

Smith came frustratingly close to breaking his own record for points in a season, falling just two points short with 135. Will his record from 2016 remain this year, and if not, is he the person who breaks it?

16. Jeff Teat.

The first overall pick in the 2020 draft had a stellar first season with the New York Riptide, finishing fourth in the league in scoring with 108 points. Just as impressively, he led all forwards in loose balls with 111. It appears to be a matter of when, not if, Teat wins his first league MVP.

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