NLL Preview: Predicting Final Standings, End-of-Year Award Winners

Lyle Thompson returns to the Georgia Swarm after winning the MLL's MVP award.


The NLL season is almost upon us, and teams are gearing up for what promises to be a year of new horizons. After the San Diego Seals and Philadelphia Wings joined in 2018, the league welcomes the Rochester Knighthawks 2.0 (also the relocated) Halifax Thunderbirds and the New York Riptide to the fold, giving opportunities for more players to make the league.

Jack Goods is back with his predictions for the final standings, as well as the end-of-year awards.

NLL 2019-20 Team Previews

Eastern Division
Georgia Swarm
New England Black Wolves
New York Riptide
Philadelphia Wings
Northern Division
Buffalo Bandits
Halifax Thunderbirds
Rochester Knighthawks

Toronto Rock
Western Division
Calgary Roughnecks
Colorado Mammoth
San Diego Seals
Saskatchewan Rush
Vancouver Warriors

Western Division
(projected order of finish)

1. Saskatchewan Rush

The franchise has finished atop the West every year since 2013, though the lead is dwindling. Three first-round picks this season should help them restock and add needed depth.

2. San Diego Seals

A strong first-year roster was bolstered with the additions of Wes Berg, Zack Greer and Jeremy Noble. The biggest question is how well this team can play without Austin Staats if his ACL injury keeps him out.

3. Calgary Roughnecks

The defending champions return most of their major players from last season. That includes MVP Dane Dobbie, Curtis Dickson, Rhys Duch and Zach Currier. Christian del Bianco outdueled Matt Vinc in last year’s NLL Cup.

4. Colorado Mammoth

The Mammoth’s top four scorers last season were all under 26 years old. Eli McLaughlin led the group, notching a career-high 76 points. Transition player Joey Cupido and goalie Dillon Ward are still among the best at their crafts.

5. Vancouver Warriors

The Warriors continue to try to build despite inheriting limited capital. The franchise added Riley Loewen, Nik Bilic, Bob Snider and Brent Adams through free agency and trades and returns all its top scorers.

Eastern Division
(projected order of finish)

1. Georgia Swarm

The Swarm sputtered at the end of last season, losing their last three games, but return the core that has made them strong in recent years. Lyle Thompson is coming off an MVP summer in MLL.

2. New England Black Wolves

They added Jordan Durston, Andrew Kew and Joel Tinney to an already solid offense led by Callum Crawford. Doug Jamieson has something to build on after a strong first season as the team’s starting goaltender.

3. Philadelphia Wings

The Wings were certainly close last season, losing by two goals or fewer seven times in their first year. They’ll benefit from having Kevin Crowley from the start, added experience for their Americans and more time to click.

4. New York Riptide

With a rather American-heavy roster, New York could run into some of the same growing pains the Wings did last year. Tyler Digby, Tyson Gibson and Kieran McArdle will do much of the heavy lifting on offense.







Northern Division
(projected order of finish)

1. Buffalo Bandits

The Bandits lost some offensive pieces, notably Shawn Evans and Jordan Durston, but are confident their depth will fill in. The team’s strong defense, anchored by goalie Matt Vinc and captain Steve Priolo, is still intact.

2. Toronto Rock

The Rock can breathe easier knowing Tom Schreiber should be good to go following an injury suffered in the PLL. On the back end, Challen Rogers emerged as one of the top two-way players in the league.

3. Halifax Thunderbirds

The T-Birds have a better foundation than a usual new team thanks to retaining the former K-Hawks roster, but Rochester did take a step back with a 6-12 finish last year. Stars like Graeme Hossack and Cody Jamieson are still around, though.

4. Rochester Knighthawks

Rochester has a good starting point, especially on offense, but faces a tough division. Having four-time champion coach Mike Hasen still in Blue Cross Arena should help immensely, as well as MVP candidate Shawn Evans.

Projected Award Winners

Rookie of the Year

Andrew Kew, New England

It was a surprise Kew dropped to No. 3, but the Black Wolves aren’t complaining. He led Oakville in scoring the last two years in the MSL.

Goalie of the Year

Matt Vinc, Buffalo

Hard to pick against him after winning the award the last two years and seven times overall. It seems he isn’t ready to slow down just yet.

Transition Player of the Year

Zach CurrierCalgary

A candidate for the award in only his second season, Currier will continue to grow on a team that will garner eyeballs after its title run.

Defensive Player of the Year

Steve Priolo, Buffalo

His time is due after five nominations for the award. The Bandits’ captain is the leader of a group that has improved tremendously over the last few years.

MVP

Callum Crawford, New England

The veteran has seemingly found his groove in Connecticut and would have led the league in scoring last year if it weren’t for a suspension.

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