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Nll Power Rankings On Il Indoor

So as the 2015 National Lacrosse League season unfolds this weekend, ILIndoor once again puts its neck on the line with our annual pre-season poll. Six of us got together to list the 9 teams in order of strength, giving 9 points for every first-place vote, 8 for second place, and so on. And as you’ll see, the top tier is anything but consensus. Three teams are clear front-runners but the back of the pack has plenty of potential to make some noise. So check it out. Agree? Disagree? Got your own poll to offer? Let your voice be heard over at the forums.

1) Edmonton Rush (50 points, 4 first-place votes)

“The Rush lost Curtis Knight on offence to injury but gained back Corey Small and Ben McIntosh. Their defence is still the best in the league and Aaron Bold plays tall behind them. Add in the team’s constant threat to score in transition and they have no weak areas. They are a year older, wiser and better. The only question is how losing coach Derek Keenan behind the bench will affect the club. Can they continue on under his system without losing a beat?” – Ty Pilson


 
“Although I think missing Curtis Knight is a bigger story than the attention it has received, the Rush still have an amazingly deep and complete team. They’ll miss Derek Keenan as well, but he has taught them well and they’ll be motivated to win for him and Wendy.” – Stephen Stamp

“The Rush have just about everyone back and might be a tad better with some stronger balance up front. Dominating the 2014regular season and coming up short in the playoffs will have them playing with a purpose. Motivated and talented. Is there a more dangerous combination?” – Bob Chavez

“Team depth has a decent schedule and everything in line for a successful season.” –Marty O’Neill

“Even after going 14-2, there’s no doubt this club has something to prove and will come into 2015 with redemption on their mind. Adding McIntosh and getting Small back will finally give them the most balanced team in the league on both sides of the ball.” – Teddy Jenner

2) Rochester Knighthawks (48, 1)

“The champs only got better with the offensive additions of Hall, Wilson and Attwood. The pressure for the 4-peat will be with them all year long but as we’ve seen in the past three years, this club finds its form in late April.” – Teddy Jenner

“Four-peat? We’ll spare you the mathematical odds of that and how monumental a task it is. After years of a very even keel with little turnover, Rochester made a lot of moves in the off-season. How will that affect them? Chemistry has been key for this club. Having Jeremy Noble choose to sit out rather than play in Rochester due to work issues is also a massive blow to the club. Will they make a big trade? If they do, we’re talking about even more new blood.” – Ty Pilson

“Until the champs are unseated, they remain No. 1 in my book. Not many teams can lose a talent like Johnny Powless and end up getting a little bit better. The addition of Jordan Hall and Aaron Wilson should help Rochester keep its pace as long as the defense continues to play the way it does. And really, is there anything to suggest it won’t?” – Bob Chavez

“The K-Hawks will have to battle Buffalo early on and there will be casualties. Rocho has good depth and a nice April schedule.” – Marty O’Neill

“No Johnny Powless? No problem for a K-Hawks team that brought Jordan Hall back into the fold. Rochester is almost as deep as Edmonton and they are very resilient. They also appear to be the clear favourites to come out of the East.” – Stephen Stamp

3) Calgary Roughnecks (46, 1)

“The Riggers have a deep, explosive offence, they’re dangerous in transition and their defence should perform better than last year, especially with Jeff Moleski added to the mix. If Mike Poulin returns to his goalie of the year form from a couple of years ago, they will be especially dangerous.” – Stephen Stamp

“The Roughnecks are eager to atone for losing in last year’s Champion’s Cup finals, and they have pretty much everyone back. They’ve got one of the best transition games in the league and the offense is versatile and potent. They’re serious contenders.” – Bob Chavez

“The Riggers don’t have the depth of Edmonton and Rochester so staying healthy is key.” – Marty O’Neill

“Added some grit on the back end with Moleski and easily have the best two-way game in the NLL. Mouse will have his team ready from the get go and ready to get back to the title game. Minimal roster turnover is a huge plus.” – Teddy Jenner

“The Riggers had very little turnover in the off-season, essentially returning their whole roster, minus Scott Ranger who retired. They moved Matthew Dinsdale up to offence and added Jeff Moleski on defence. Cohesion and consistency should be the club’s greatest attributes. That and their potent offence, of course.” – Ty Pilson

4) Buffalo Bandits (29)

“The Bandits were much improved last winter, but it wasn’t enough to get over the hump. They’ve added some nice young legs to the back end to spark transition, but the biggest question up front is age. They’ve improved, but did they improve enough to catch up with Rochester?” – Bob Chavez

“Can the Bandits win one for JT? Another year under Cordingley’s watch and this team will be even more prepared than last year. Discipline has to be paramount in 2015 as will staying healthy. Coz will have to have another MVP worthy year in net.” – Teddy Jenner

“Bandit and should be home to some big divisional tilts this year. Key players must have consistent years for this team to go far.” – Marty O’Neill

“This is where the drop-off happens in terms of favourites. Buffalo is very good but doesn’t seem as complete a team as Edmonton, Rochester or Calgary. Can Dhane Smith be even better than he was last year? Does Anthony Cosmo have another stellar season in him? Will the defence be able to overcome the loss of Rory Smith without losing effectiveness? The answers to those questions will determine how far the Bandits can go in the playoffs.” – Stephen Stamp

5) Toronto Rock (27)

“Most improved team in the off-season will have a top notch defense and a new transition game. Offense is the question mark.” – Marty O’Neill

“The defence should be much improved with Brodie Merrill, Jeff Gilbert and Brock Sorensen added. The big question is how much the offence will be affected by the absence of Colin Doyle and Garrett Billings.” – Stephen Stamp

“The Rock did some great off-season work to their back end and transition, now they just have to find out if the chemistry is there. Starting the season without Garrett Billings and Colin Doyle could impede a quick start but they’ll need to find a way to make it happen so they’re not forced to play catch-up late in the season.” – Bob Chavez

“No Doyle, Billings is out for the first bit of the year and the loss of T will weigh on this team in the early days of the year. Pressure will be on Lovell to get this group running from Day 1. Great make up, youth and vets, but can they compete with Buff/Roc?” – Teddy Jenner

6) Colorado Mammoth (24)

“The Woolies have an offense with potential to score multiple goals. Goaltending is settled so all systems are go.” – Marty O’Neill

“The Mammoth have excellent top end players but just don’t appear to have accumulated the depth that some other teams have in these days when there are so many good players battling for so few spots in the league. Also, the second year can be a tough one for young goalies. Dillon Ward is for real, but he could still struggle as the league adjusts to him this year.” – Stephen Stamp

“Offensively, they are a balanced mix of size youth and speed. Defensively, they have a group of ball-hawks that will look to limit the chances faced by Dillon Ward. They need to win at home to have a chance in 2015.” – Teddy Jenner

“The Mammoth already have a solid offense, but they beefed up the D and believe they have the right pieces in place to field a more athletic defense that can move the ball. Dillon Ward showed he can steal momentum in goal, so if the Mammoth can get their defense and transition on the same page, they could make some noise.” – Bob Chavez

7) Vancouver Stealth (23)

“They lost 5 of their top d-men from last year; will the addition of Hass, Smith and Burton be able to counter that? The addition of Powless will complement Duch on the other side of the floor but they are going to have be even more balanced in 2015. Richards will need to find his 2010/2011 form for this club to succeed.” – Teddy Jenner

“The team is improved but familiarity and some size are gone from the defensive side. Do Powless and Duch equal a playoff spot?” – Marty O’Neill

“The Stealth’s defence struggled mightily last year. How will they be better when they’ve lost Mike Grimes, Jeff Moleski and Nick Weiss? The additions of Rory Smith, Tyler Hass and Tyler Burton will help, but it’s a valid question and the main reason they’re still a ways behind Calgary and Edmonton for supremacy in the West.” – Stephen Stamp

“The Stealth did a lot of work in adding guys like Johnny Powless, Tyler Hass and Rory Smith, among others. But they also lost some big names so the key for this team is finding chemistry ASAP. Playing the same division as Calgary and Edmonton doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for error.” – Bob Chavez

8) Minnesota Swarm (12)

“Losing Jeff Gilbert, Brock Sorensen and Tyler Hass from the defence/transition will make it awfully tough for the Swarm to remain competitive this year, especially when they don’t have a goalie who has ever been a regular starter in the NLL.” – Stephen Stamp

“The Swarm will miss the stick of Logan Schuss, but Miles Thompson has shown already he’s got tremendous potential. He’s one of a few new faces on offense, so the unit will need to click early to support the work of Thompson and veteran Callum Crawford. A new goalie presents another issue, giving the defensive runners the challenge of adjusting to become a cohesive unit.” – Bob Chavez

“The Swarm/Mammoth are two teams that can play the spoiler in their respective divisions. Minny brought in some good energy to replace the talent lost in the offseason.” – Marty O’Neill

“Swarm continue to retool their lineup every year and it never seems to make a difference. Crawford and Jackson are the only returning players from an offence that was last in the league with 180 goals. Suitor and MacIntosh will be horses all year as usual.” – Teddy Jenner

9) New England Black Wolves (6)

“The Black Wolves aren’t ranked No. 9 for me because they’re bad, they’re just unknown. Lots of turnovers with the move from Philadelphia, especially up front. How quickly this team gels from front to back is key, and it’ll probably have to play over its head to keep up with the rest of the East Division.” – Bob Chavez

“Don’t panic, new New England fans. This team is putting something together that should be good. It just won’t be this year. But when the young players New England is building around gain some experience in pro lacrosse, the Black Wolves should be consistently difficult to beat.”– Stephen Stamp

“Can the Black Wolves escape the shadows of the dark ages from Philadelphia? Nearly 60% roster turnover. Too many questions and not enough answers for this club. Let’s just hope the product on/off the floor results in solid attendance at the Casino.” – Teddy Jenner

“So much turnover each year it will be hard to find an identity in season. Veteran leadership is in question.” – Marty O’Neill