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Il Indoor: Nll Training Camp Guide

The wait is almost over. The preseason for the 2016 NLL season, the National Lacrosse League’s 30th anniversary year starting on New Year’s Day, has officially begun as three teams started activities this weekend ahead of more teams opening up with training camp and exhibition games in the coming weeks. Preview Stephen Stamp’s NLL training camp guide below with more in-depth coverage for every team on IL Indoor.

“It’s that time of year that National Lacrosse League fans wait impatiently for each time fall rolls around and you can start to feel the first cold fingers of winter creeping in (the latter is obviously not relevant in Georgia, where winter will be but a memory for the Swarm),” Stamp writes. “Training camps for three teams – Rochester, Colorado and New England – start today and all nine NLL clubs will be back together preparing for the 2016 season within the next few weeks.”

Rochester Knighthawks

Training camp starts: Today, November 21
First scrimmage: December 6 vs New England at Buffalo (closed scrimmage)

Things are a little different around Knighthawksland this year. It’s the first time since 2013 that they don’t head to camp as the defending champs. There’s no word on when Cody Jamieson will be ready to go after tearing his achilles at the end of last season, but the real difference in the team should be in the defensive zone. Rochester selected four D/transition players in the first 16 picks of the draft this year, including budding franchise defender Graeme Hossack second overall, assuming he gets signed in time to be at camp and ready for the season (look for an update soon)…

New England Black Wolves

Training camp starts: Today, November 21
First scrimmage: December 5 @ Buffalo

Lots of things are new in New England, from the coaching staff additions of Glenn Clark and Jim Veltman to the league’s reigning MVP Shawn Evans being brought in to lead the offence. Kevin Crowley is back to play with him. Perhaps the biggest change for the Black Wolves, though, is that they’ll now be practicing during the week in the Toronto area. That puts them more in line with the Bandits, Knighthawks and Rock that they’ve been chasing in the East for years…

Colorado Mammoth

Training camp starts: Today, November 21

The Mammoth will split camp among Vancouver, Toronto and Denver. They didn’t have a pick until the fourth round of the draft, so their big change this year comes from free agency. They signed star forward Callum Crawford, who’ll look to make the later-career transition from offensive focal point to complementary player with a deep Colorado O…

Calgary Roughnecks

Training camp starts: Friday, November 27

The post-Shawn Evans era in Calgary begins next week. With Wes Berg and Reilly O’Connor coming in the draft and Tyler Digby returning in the Evans trade, the Roughnecks O will look markedly different from the unit that has been among the  best in the league for several years. At the other end of the floor, where things haven’t been quite as rosy the last few seasons, Calgary is looking to draft picks like Mitch De Snoo and Kellen Leclair to drive change…

Saskatchewan Rush

Training camp starts: Friday, November 27
First scrimmage: November 28 in Vancouver

The biggest change for the Rush, of course, is off the floor. They appear to be settling nicely into their new digs in Saskatchewan and the new fans get a team ready-made for another championship run. There are no holes on this roster and while the team is surely excited about first draft pick Dan Taylor, the really big addition to this team is the return from injury of 2014 team MVP Curtis Knight, who missed all of last season. 

Vancouver Stealth

Training camp starts: Saturday, November 28
First scrimmage: November 28 vs Saskatchewan

Garrett Billings and Jeff Moleski returning to their home province are the big stories for the Stealth. But it’s on the left side of the offence where the Vancouver clearly was looking for some help to support Corey Small and Logan Schuss. They took five lefty forwards in the draft to compete with Cliff Smith for the depth roles…

Buffalo Bandits

Training camp starts: Saturday, November 28
First scrimmage: December 5 vs New England

Hmmmm, anything new in Buffalo? Well, there’s the signing of Daryl Veltman, first draft pick Anthony Malcolm…Sorry, I just can’t do it. You always want to talk about who’s there and not who isn’t, but 2016 has to be thought of first and foremost in Banditland as the first season in which John Tavares won’t be suiting up. Ever. He came to the team just before they started playing in 1992 and they’ve never spent a season without him. He’ll be on the bench coaching, but what a huge change on the floor no more JT is for the Bandits and the whole league…

Toronto Rock

Training camp starts: Saturday, November 28
First scrimmage: December 5 vs Saskatchewan in Ottawa

Last year the Rock added defenders Brodie Merrill, Jeff Gilbert and Brock Sorensen during the off-season and it helped them become the league’s top team in the regular season and earn a berth in the Champions Cup finals. This year they may have yet another veteran back-door presence who could have a big impact: while Mike Grimes didn’t play last year he’s still only 29 and was one of the best transition players in the game in 2014…

Georgia Swarm

Training camp starts: December 4

The Swarm are the last team to get camp rolling this year. Last season they were last in the league in goals for. How quickly will three first-round draft picks spent on forwards–Lyle Thompson first, Jesse King third and Randy Staats sixth–help to boost the scoring numbers? The team hopes quickly. The reality is that you never know with rookies. Strongly in Georgia’s favour are the performances of all three at high levels already, especially given the chemistry that Thompson and Staats showed with Miles Thompson and Johnny Powless for the Iroquois at the WILC. They should be fun to watch and it would be surprising if they don’t keep the official scorer busier…

Click here to find the full NLL training camp guide by Stephen Stamp on Inside Lacrosse via IL Indoor.