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2023-24 Mid-Season Awards

We have made it to the midway point of the 2023-24 NLL season. While there are no actual awards handed out at this point of the year, here are the midseason candidates and winners of the league’s key awards as determined by NLL/TSN Analyst Teddy Jenner and NLL.com Reporter/Writer Adam Levi.

 

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – Nick Rose, Jeff Teat, Wes Berg, Josh Byrne

Teddy: Even though the Rock have lost two of their last three games, it’s been by a total of just three goals – and the Toronto Rock are as complete a team as you’ll find in the NLL. But if it wasn’t for the play of Nick Rose, it’s debatable that they would be atop the league without him. Game after game, Rose gives the Rock a chance to win and in those games he’s generally their best player. Teat, Berg and Byrne are all worthy candidates but at the halfway mark, the award has been Rosey’s to lose.

Adam: The fact that Nick Rose still has a league-best goals against average of 9.33 and a league-best save percentage of 81.3% this season despite letting in 14 goals against the Buffalo Bandits a few weeks ago tells you all you need to know about how good he’s been in between the pipes this season. However, I’m going to go the more conventional (aka boring) route and choose forward Jeff Teat as my midseason MVP, with Rose a close second. Over the Riptide’s four-game win streak and five wins in six games, Teat has been an unstoppable focal point of the Riptide’s fiery offense, scoring four-plus goals in each of those last six games. Without Teat, the Riptide would likely not have the record they do at this point.

 

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – Alex Simmons, Callum Jones, Owen Grant, Thomas McConvey 

Adam: Before this season started, I stated that I thought Alex Simmons or Tye Kurtz would win the league’s ROTY award. At the midway point of the season, Simmons appears to still be the favourite, although his offensive production is slowing down. There’s also the matter of Thomas McConvey heating up with the Knighthawks and young defensive studs Grant and Jones playing well beyond their years, who are chasing Simmons for the award. Much of the rookie class seems to be finding its way as the season moves along, which is a great sign for the future of the league, but, as it stands now, Simmons would be my pick for the ROTY.

Teddy: It’s always hard to grade rookies but the crop of first-year players in the NLL this year have been outstanding. Simmons took off like a rocket to start the year and many had him as the runaway candidate. If he continues to play the way he is, he should cruise to the win but don’t count out the other three in this list – especially Jones and Grant. Simmons has been full value for the FireWolves but teams are starting to figure him out and his production has dipped. Jones and Grant are showing that they can defend any of the game’s top scorers, have the full trust of their coaches and will no doubt be in the hunt for a DPOTY award very soon.

 

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Graeme Hossack, Brad Kri, Adam Wiedemann, Brett Mydske

Teddy: Will Hossack match Kyle Rubisch with his fourth DPOTY award? The way he’s been playing, it’s hard to argue, but across the NLL defenders have been putting on a show and there really could be any number of guys up for this year’s award. Kri is constantly shutting down offensive chances with positioning and size. Wiedemann is still very underrated as a top tier defender and may not get as much love as he should, being down in Georgia. Mydske has been rejuvenated under Curt Malawsky and is proving a valuable leader for the younger Warriors D-core. But at the end of the day, Hossack does a little bit of everything just that much better than the rest.

Adam: Graeme Hossack is such a technically gifted and tenacious defender. He does all the things that fill up the stat sheet, and he does all the intangibles that you want out of your defensive leader. He’s built like a machine and is laser focused. It’s like he was programmed to play excellent, gritty defense. Maybe that’s why the call him ‘Cyborg.’ Yes, his stats may not be as good as some of the other talented guys on the backend, but Hossack delivers in so many ways, every single day.

 

TRANSITION PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Challen Rogers, Ian Mackay, Matt Gilray, Shane Simpson

Adam: Ian Mackay is often overlooked when it comes to awards, but you can’t knock the man for giving the Bandits every ounce of himself out on the floor each and every game. He plays a pivotal role in moving the ball up and down the floor to get that potent offense humming. He’s reliable on defense, sacrifices his body (whether for blocked shots or scrapping for a loose ball), and he’s even taken up the role as the team’s go-to face-off guy even though he’s never trained to be in that role. He’s a glue guy on and off the floor. Of course Challen Rogers deserves to be in the conversation every year for TPOTY because he’s one of the best lacrosse players on the planet, but I’m giving Ian MacKay the slight edge here because of how he’s continued to step up every single way for his team this season.

Teddy: The most contentious award every year is TPOTY and for good reason – the athletes in the NLL just continue to shine running both ways. Rogers could be in the MVP conversation if it wasn’t for Rose, but what he does on a nightly basis for the Rock is remarkable. When Tom Schreiber was on the IR, Rogers got plenty of O shifts which may skew some voters but there aren’t many who cover the whole floor like Challen. MacKay and Simpson may be the most lethal players in the game right now running the floor and rarely (if ever) get a front-door shift. Gilray has been a bolt of energy all year for Rochester and even during their five-game losing streak he’s been a force out the back, pushing every chance he gets.

 

GOALTENDER OF THE YEAR – Nick Rose, Chris Origlieri, Cam Dunkerley, Doug Jamieson

Teddy: For years, Nick Rose has been the perennial bridesmaid when it comes to the GOTY award. He’s been a nominee four times in his career only to have Matt Vinc, Christian Del Bianco, Mie Poulin and Evan Kirk come away with the win. This year, Rose has been adamant that a championship is more important but there’s no arguing he’s been the best between the pipes all season long and he’s more than due to finally win this award. Jamieson won the award three seasons ago and has looked great once again this year but injuries may slow his momentum. Then you have the two young bucks, Origlieri and Dunkerley, who are starting to show the old dogs a few new tricks. Origlieri is a huge reason the Seals are once again Cup contenders and Dunkerley has led the Riptide to their best stretch in franchise history. It may be tough for anyone to steal the award from Rose this year but these two definitely are making a push to once again leave Rose wondering what more he has to do to be recognized as the league’s best tender.

Adam: Nick Rose, Nick Rose, Nick Rose. If he’s an MVP candidate or even an MVP frontrunner in any conversation, how could he not be the league’s midseason GOTY? His GAA is far ahead of any other goaltender (other than Chris Origlieri). He’s been a key reason why the Rock are 6-2 at the midway point. It’s a pretty easy call to give Rose this award, even with a handful of other talented goalies making their case this season.

 

COACH OF THE YEAR – Matt Sawyer, Glenn Clark, Pat Merrill, Dan Ladouceur

Adam: Dan Ladouceur and his coaching staff are looking like coaching masterminds in 2024. After an 0-3 start to the season (all games in December), the Riptide are 5-1 over their last six games, and you better believe they feel like they should’ve won their game in mid-January against Panther City Lacrosse Club. Glenn Clark has worked wonders in Albany with the youngest team in the NLL coming off of a 3-15 season last year. Patrick Merrill has managed key changes in between the pipes, defensively and offensively with great skill – it’s a challenge to get a team with so much individual star-power to play great team ball, but he’s done just that. Matt Sawyer has the Rock at a league-best-tying record of 6-2 and he was missing Tom Schreiber, Chris Corbeil and Latrell Harris for much of the first half (Harris is still out). This is a toss-up here, but I’m going to go with the hottest team in the NLL right now and choose Ladouceur for the award.

Teddy: It’s easy to pick coaches who have their team atop the standings for COTY but this season, more than ever, this group of leaders are truly getting the most from their players. Sawyer and Merrill are cut from the same Orangeville cloth and have their teams playing lights out lacrosse each week. Clark has the young FireWolves on the precipice of a home-playoff game and with a bright future ahead of them, they are definitely a team to be wary of. Ladouceur has found the switch that turned the Riptide’s season around and has them climbing the standings at an alarming rate. It’s only halfway through the year but these four men are a tier ahead of the rest.

 

GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Rich Lisk, Patrick Merrill, Jamie Dawick, Glenn Clark

Teddy: It’s not much of a surprise that the four GM’s we’ve nominated also have their coaches/teams at or near the top of the standings. Lisk bolstered his defense in the off-season and added Stephen Keogh to balance his offense. Merrill added Trevor Baptiste, Kyle Rubisch and Kyle Jackson in a bid to finally get the Seals to the championship game. Dawick pulled off a couple of off-season trades to add to an already formidable offense and inserted some youth into the backend to add speed and size. In Albany, Clark used his past draft picks to finally get the FireWolves on track to be a contender at the end of the season, but it may be the acquisition of Walker that was the biggest addition to his masterpiece.

Adam: Glenn Clark has built a powerhouse youthful squad, and they’ve shocked the lacrosse world with their league-best-tying 6-2 record, that included their unfathomable 6-0 start to the year. Just as Teddy stated, it is the calculated draft choices and trades over the past few seasons that allowed the FireWolves to turn into the formidable opponent they’ve become. They are slipping a little bit at the moment, but this team has the talented and family vibes that is going to make them a contender for years to come. We are starting to see them reap the benefits already, and this is without Dyson Williams, who will be joining the team next season.

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