Welcome to the NLL Top 50.
As voted on by the League’s coaches and GM’s, 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.
The countdown begins looking at who the League’s coaches and GM’s chose as their Top 5 goalies. Does the league’s reigning MVP and Goaltender of the Year take the top spot? Are the Top 5 goaltenders selected from the teams that had the best records in the league last season? Let’s dive into the list to find out.
5. Aaron Bold
Bold is as fiercely competitive as they come; he’s won a lot because of that. At 38 years old, and heading into his 18th season in the NLL, Bold is still approaching the game with the same intensity and passion as he did earlier in his career. He is a two-time NLL champion for a reason and simultaneously accepts the role of mentor and rival.
Bold’s return to Vancouver seems to have been the spark that he needed to get back to his imposing ways in between the pipes. One can only imagine how playing for new Vancouver Warriors head coach Curt Malawsky is going to inspire Bold. Bold played in eight games last year after joining the team mid-season. He had four 40+ save games, including two 50+ save contests.
4. Doug Jamieson
Jamieson faced a lot of shots last year, and unfortunately, a few too many got by him, but at only 26 years old, he’s showcased just how good he can be. Let’s not forget, Jamieson won NLL Goaltender of the Year during the 2019-20 season (he was only 23 years old at the time). For a guy that is 6’3” and around 275 pounds, his mobility and flexibility is impressive.
Even during last year’s season, he was constantly making sure he (or his stick) were in front of the ball – he had eight 40+ save games, including four 50+ save games. Last season, there were a handful of occasions where Jamieson saw 60+ shots come his way in a single game.
3. Matt Vinc
It’s hard to remember a time when Matt Vinc wasn’t in contention for the NLL’s Goaltender of the Year Award. Even in his 17th year in the league (at 40 years old), Vinc once again showed the world his greatness over and over and over again. As the game has changed, so has Vinc’s prep. What hasn’t changed is how seriously he takes his game prep – you can tell just by looking at him that he’s very serious about keeping his body in the best shape so he can be the most successful goalie possible.
During the Buffalo Bandits’ NLL Cup run, Vinc stopped a league-best 82.9% of the shots he faced in the playoffs and had a league-best 8.82 GAA in the postseason, as well. In the win-or-go-home Game 3 of the NLL Cup, Vinc allowed an NLL Finals record of only four goals.
2. Dillon Ward
Dillon Ward, aka Mr. Reliable or Mr. Consistent, makes the saves he’s supposed to make, and often, makes the saves he’s not supposed to have a shot at making. He is dedicated to his routine and prep and is as big of a big team guy as you can find. The last two NLL seasons, Ward’s efforts have helped lead the Colorado Mammoth to back-to-back NLL Cup appearances, including an NLL Cup championship victory in 2022.
Statistically speaking, Ward’s 2022-23 regular season numbers were below average for him, but, as expected, during the postseason, Ward stepped up to the occasion in the biggest moments. He made an NLL postseason-high of 285 saves in last year’s playoffs, including posting three 40+ save games during that championship run. Ward’s 52-save effort in the NLL Quarterfinals against the San Diego Seals was one of the main reasons the Mammoth won that game and advanced to the semi-finals.
1. Christian Del Bianco
No surprise here. Last season, Del Bianco became only the second goaltender in NLL history to win both the league’s MVP Award and Goaltender of the Year in the same year. He has explosive, yet laser-focused energy between the pipes and his ability to outlet the ball and get the transition game buzzing is second to none.
Among goalies that played at least 200 minutes during the regular season, Del Bianco’s 9.28 GAA was the second-best in the league, his 81% save percentage was third-best, and his 712 saves was fourth-best. During the playoffs, among goalies that played at least 50 minutes, Del Bianco’s 9.25 GAA was second-best and his 79% save percentage was also second-best.