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NLL Top 50: Forwards

 

Welcome to the NLL Top 50.

As voted on by the League’s coaches and GMs, these are the players that made the cut to be considered one of the Top 50 players in the league. The list is comprised of the league’s best forwards, defensemen, transition players, goaltenders and face-off men.

Today, we honor the goal scorers. The magic men who move the ball around and into the opposition’s net. They’re strong, they’re tenacious and they’re creative. The best forwards, as voted on by the League’s coaches and GMs.

 

15. Brendan Bomberry, Georgia

While the Swarm are blessed with an abundance of talented youth up front, Brendan Bomberry wasn’t originally part of that group. Despite playing forward his entire junior career, he was drafted as a defenseman and spent his pre-pandemic years in Georgia pushing the ball in transition. That changed in the 2021-22 season when he was finally allowed out the front door and immediately made himself known, scoring 62 and 63 points, respectively, in the last two seasons. Last season he was fourth in team scoring behind Lyle Thompson, Andrew Kew and Shayne Jackson. His best stretch came in April 2023, when in three consecutive games he contributed seven, six and seven points, respectively.

Bomber kept some of his defensive instincts, though, and scooped a career-best 81 loose balls last year. – Anna Taylor

 

14. Blaze Riorden, Philadelphia

One of the most versatile lacrosse players in the world, Riorden is coming off his best NLL season. He set career highs with 34 goals and 39 assists. As most lacrosse fans know, Riorden is an elite goalie in the field game and was the PLL MVP in 2021. One of the league’s most engaging and colorful personalities, his joy for the game and his teammates is evident and makes him a go-to interview for those covering the game.

And, let’s be honest, he might have the coolest goal scored in the history of lacrosse. – Scott Turken

 

13. Adam Charalambides, Vancouver

Vancouver Warriors titan Adam Charalambides knows a little something about perseverance. During his college days at Rutgers, he endured three serious knee surgeries, resulting in three medical redshirts and a seven-year stay on the New Jersey campus. In 2021, he was drafted fourth overall by the Warriors, where he had an immediate impact on the team, with 14 goals and 33 assists. Charalambides followed that up with 21 goals and 38 assists last season. With two strong campaigns under his belt, combined with the confidence that comes from staying out of the operating room, the lefty scorer is poised for an even stronger effort in the months and years that lie ahead.

The Georgetown, ON native walked away from his time at Rutgers with degrees in both supply chain management and marketing. He has parlayed his education into a career as an account executive for Canucks Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns and operates the Warriors, Canucks and Rogers Arena. – Jon Rapoport

 

12. Eli McLaughlin, Colorado

Eli McLaughlin is arguably one of the most underrated offensive talents in the NLL over the last few years, and that’s saying a lot considering he has been the offensive leader for the Mammoth, especially with Ryan Lee having missed so much time due to injury. He’s stepped up to the plate for the Mammoth in the regular season, but has really shone over the last two postseasons. In fact, no player in the NLL has scored more goals over the last two NLL playoffs than McLaughlin and no other Mammoth player has tallied more points. – Adam Levi

 

11. Andrew Kew, Georgia

Kew’s first two years in the league with New England/Albany were decent, but he really broke out in 2022-23, nearly doubling his point total from the year before, going from 59 to 106 after a trade to the Georgia Swarm. In fact, those 106 points tied Lyle Thompson’s output for first on the team, with Kew getting the edge in assists (by 3) on the superstar. Kew’s shooting percentage from last season is actually better than Thompson’s at 25.1% compared to 22.4%.

Going into his fourth season and competing with the best of the best in Lyle Thompson? Kew, who also excels on the golf course, could be unstoppable in the next couple of years. – Anna Taylor

 

10. Ben McIntosh, Philadelphia

Ben McIntosh is consistent. Last season, the Wings’ forward scored 39 goals and assisted on 34 more. Throughout his seven-year career, the Coquitlam native has averaged 40 goals per season, while coming in at the very same 34 assists per campaign. McIntosh was selected first overall by the then-Edmonton Rush. He would go on to win Rookie of the Year honors, blasting 37 goals and helping on 49 others. No matter if it is the 2010s or 2020s, McIntosh can always be counted on to do his part. This man has been a solid contributor to every team he has ever been a member of.

It should be noted that the Drexel alum’s sterling resume involves way more than just stats. In both 2016 and 2018, McIntosh was an integral participant in the Saskatchewan Rush’s run of two NLL titles in three years. Entering his third season in Philadelphia, McIntosh hopes to bring those very same championship ways to the franchise that plays a mere four miles from where he starred in college. – Jon Rapoport

 

9. Dane Dobbie, San Diego

Dane Dobbie refuses to slow down. Dobbie’s raw talent and passion for winning is up there with the best and most successful offensive talents in the game, and he’s been that way for the 15 years he’s been in the NLL. Dobbie seems rejuvenated since his move to play for the San Diego Seals starting in the 2021-22 season. In these later stages of his career, he’s found more success through distributing the ball, but he is still one of the league’s most lethal offensive weapons when attacking the goal. He plays tough and with grit and does not let any defender get in the way of him doing what he wants with the ball. – Adam Levi

 

8. Connor Fields, Rochester

Knighthawks’ forward Connor Fields keeps getting better and better each season. During his rookie season with San Diego, Fields tallied 18 goals and 26 assists. He followed that up in his sophomore year with Buffalo, posting 32 goals and 35 assists.

The Western New Yorker made his way from Buffalo to Rochester after a very brief layover in Las Vegas. Fields was left unprotected by the Bandits and subsequently selected by the Desert Dogs in their expansion draft. He was immediately traded to the Knighthawks for Charlie Bertrand, along with a series of pick swaps between the two franchises. What a move by Rochester! That’s when he really broke out, finding the net 52 times, while adding 60 assists and collecting an astounding 142 loose balls. Fields’ 2022-2023 exploits earned him second-team All-NLL honors. – Jon Rapoport

 

7. Curtis Dickson, San Diego

Curtis Dickson earned the Superman moniker for his ability to score high-flying, athletic goals. It’s rare that the man with 945 regular-season career points scores a boring one. Dickson’s not just flashy, though – he’s strong, too, meaning that he’s almost impossible to knock off the ball despite the high amount of attention he gets from opposing defenders. We’d posit that Dickson may take the most slashes of any forward in the league.

Now just 55 points away from the prestigious 1,000 point mark, Dickson has hit 100 points three times in his career including this past season, his first with the San Diego Seals after spending 11 years in Calgary. He’s eighth all-time in goals scored, and the 35 year old shows no signs of slowing down. – Anna Taylor

 

6. Josh Byrne, Buffalo

One of the league’s most electric and dynamic players, Byrne scored a career-high 43 goals last season for the champion Bandits. He also tallied an impressive 15 goals in the playoffs in just four games played. When you look at career-defining moments, Byrne came through with four goals and three assists in a decisive Game 3 to help lead Buffalo to its first title in 15 years. Byrne is also a champion in the PLL (Chaos in 2021) and a three-time all-star.

The former No. 1 overall pick has lived up to the hype. We love seeing him frequently land on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays and TSN Plays of the Month and look forward to Air Byrne flights this season and beyond. – Scott Turken

 

5. Tom Schreiber, Toronto

They call him Captain America for a reason. Tom Schreiber is the man that makes the Rock’s offense roll. Schreiber’s ability to make the best split-second decisions for his team is elite – you might credit his Princeton education for his advanced lacrosse IQ. He is a dual-threat who has not only been the best goal scorer in the NLL during the regular season over the last two seasons, but he’s also one of the best playmakers. Schreiber can score on the move and can shoot a laser to the top corner. Simply put, when he has the ball, he’s a superhero. – Adam Levi

 

4. Austin Staats, San Diego

One word to describe Austin Staats? Dynamic. He’s already such a legend that it’s hard to believe he’s only been in the league since 2019. Staats’ ability to singlehandedly take control of any game makes him an outright superstar. He’s an explosive scorer with a powerful shot. He will shoot from anywhere and everywhere and easily find the back of the net. Of the 50 regular season games he’s played, 36 of them have been multiple-goal games including his very first, where he scored five goals and four assists.

Staats helped the Six Nations Chiefs win the Mann Cup in 2016 as a junior callup, scoring eight goals and five assists in five games. At the time, he was Randy’s little brother, but it didn’t take long for Austin to make a name for himself in professional lacrosse. – Anna Taylor

 

3. Lyle Thompson, Georgia

If there’s one lacrosse player on earth who deserves to go by a one-name moniker, it’s Lyle. The 2017 NLL Champion and MVP is still playing at an elite level in his 30s. Thompson tallied 46 goals and 60 assists for the Swarm last season, finishing fifth in goals and eighth overall in points. Widely considered the greatest college lacrosse player ever, Thompson still holds the NCAA record for points with 400. He’s also a star in the PLL and a former MVP of the MLL.

Our content team is charged with growing the game and the League’s digital audience, and having a superstar like Lyle makes our jobs easy. We often say that ‘we’re blessing your feed with Lyle being Lyle.’ His grace, skill, demeanor and clutch play are a blessing to us all – Lyle Thompson is truly a beacon for our sport. – Scott Turken

 

 

2. Jeff Teat, New York

New York Riptide forward Jeff Teat enters his third season holding the distinction of being one of the absolute best and most exciting lacrosse players on Planet Earth. The 26-year-old led the league last season with a whopping 56 goals, amid finishing with an extraordinary 80 assists. Teat’s 136 points landed him only one shy of Dhane Smith’s all-time single season record. The 2020 first overall pick’s style of play is both highly productive and full of creativity. When the Cornell alum takes the floor, fans are guaranteed a stat sheet dominated by the name Teat, along with the opportunity to witness a magician with the lacrosse stick. Teat is the total package, whose future is as bright as the neon lights of Times Square.

Away from life in the NLL, Teat coaches seventh and eighth grade lacrosse at The Hill Academy, his suburban Toronto alma mater. The Brampton, Ontario native is fully dedicated to making himself one of the best ever, while simultaneously giving back to the next generation. The NLL is in good hands with role models like Jeff Teat. – Jon Rapoport

 

1. Dhane Smith, Buffalo

Dhane Smith is indisputably the most prolific offensive player in the NLL. He’s a talented finisher, and his ability to find his teammates in any situation is second-to-none. It’s even more impressive when you consider just how much mention he attracts when he has the ball in his stick, yet he still finds a way to dish it out.

Over the last few years, no one in the league has scored more points than Smith. In both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 regular seasons, Smith has challenged his own single-season points record (137 points set back in 2016). There is also no player in the league that has tallied more points in postseason play during that span. – Adam Levi

 

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