Something pretty interesting happened as the ILIndoor staff put together its annual preseason player awards for the 2013 National Lacrosse League season. We saw the usual names pop up and dominate in some categories. But when it came to naming the game’s top goaltender, the ILIndoor staff couldn’t agree on 1 name for the top spot. As a matter of fact, all 5 votes cast in that category were for 5 different goalies. So what’s that tell you? There are a lot of good goalies in the league, something NLL shooters these days are very well aware of. So let’s take a closer look at the preseason awards, which are broken down following the jump.
The staff for this season’s preseason awards was the same as yesterday’s team picks: Bob Chavez, Stephen Stamp, Ty Pilson, Teddy Jenner, Brian Shanahan and Casey Vock. We didn’t assign point values for this breakdown because there were clear winners in each category but 2, which you’ll discover as you read along.
MVP: John Grant Jr.
Voting breakdown: John Grant Jr. (Colorado Mammoth, 3 votes), Garrett Billings (Toronto Rock, 2 votes), Cody Jamieson (Rochester Knighthawks, 1)
“John Grant Jr. playing above everyone else lately and while he has a solid supporting cast around him, he makes everyone better every time he’s on the floor.”
“Watching him win the Steinfeld Cup and the Mann Cup after his unreal 2012 NLL campaign, it’s clear this guy’s not going anywhere any time soon. It’s his award to win and lose again this year. It’s difficult to see one player meaning more to his team than Junior.”
“Billings a born scorer, but last season he showed the ability to take it to an even higher level than he was already at.”
“Cody Jamieson just gets better and better, and he’s the straw that stirs the drink in Rochester. My dark horse candidate is Shawn Evans as the driving force in an overwhelming Calgary offence.”
Offensive Player of the Year: John Grant Jr.
Voting breakdown: John Grant Jr. (Colorado Mammoth, 4 votes), Garrett Billings (Toronto Rock, 1)
“There are a few others who come to mind, but I see Grant possibly asked to do more for his team than some of those others who could be in contention, like a Dan Dawson, Garrett Billings, Lewis Ratcliff, and a host of other guys who can put up great numbers. But this guy puts the team on his back.”
“Junior is the best player in the world until someone takes the crown from him.”
“Hopefully this year Grant gets all 16 games in and can break last year’s record-setting performance. Can you imagine?!”
Defensive Player of the Year: Kyle Rubisch
Voting breakdown: Kyle Rubisch (Edmonton Rush, 4 votes), Jeff Moleski (Washington Stealth, 1), Mac Allen (Colorado Mammoth, 1)
“When you want a forward shut down, you want Kyle Rubisch doing the work. He gets it done.”
“Jeff Moleski continually gets overlooked being on the West coast but the big bruising defender from Prince George is consistently one of the best defenders on the Stealth.”
“This one always goes to the defensive shut down guy on one of the teams with the best goals-against average. I’m picking Kyle Rubisch again.”
“Picking anyone other than Kyle Rubisch may seem crazy but Mac Allen is back to full health, he’s probably the strongest guy in the league and he showed in the summer that he can be a devastatingly effective shutdown defender.”
“Kyle Rubisch is a stud and there’s not much else to say. Seventeen more caused turnovers than the next closest man, and he’s as athletic as any defender around and has quite the career ahead of him.”
Transition Player of the Year: Suitor, MacIntosh (tie)
Voting breakdown: Andrew Suitor (Minnesota Swarm, 2 votes), Jordan MacIntosh (Minnesota Swarm, 2), Brodie Merrill (Philadelphia Wings, 1), Brad Self (Rochester Knighthawks, 1)
“It’s difficult to tell who really are the transition players in the league but Brodie Merrill is always near the top in ground balls, and points among players in the back end.”
“I realize his teammate took it home last year. But I think you look at the numbers MacIntosh puts up, and you’re looking at a star on the rise. After a nice run to a Mann Cup victory with the Peterborough Lakers, I think McIntosh could emerge as a favorite for this award. You have to love his smarts and his athleticism.”
“Loving Suitor’s style. He brings grit, determination and a bit of offense to every single shift and doesn’t give a crap about how he looks doing it. He’s not after style points. He’s after wins, and that’s the name of the game.”
“Brad Self has developed into an excellent defender but can still use his blazing speed to get the ball up the floor and has gotten his scoring touch back after dedicating completely to lacrosse the last couple of years.”
“The newer breed of NLL transition players is small, compact, fast and gritty. Suits has all the tools and brings it every game.”
Goalie of the Year: Up for grabs
Voting breakdown: Tyler Richards (Washington Stealth, 1 vote), Aaron Bold (Edmonton Rush, 1), Anthony Cosmo (Buffalo Bandits, 1), Mike Poulin (Calgary Roughnecks, 1), Matt Vinc (Rochester Knighthawks, 1)
“Aaron Bold showed everyone last year that he paid attention while serving backup to guys like Matt Vinc, Anthony Cosmo and Dallas Eliuk. It was worth the wait.”
“When a goalie personally calls himself out you know he has some making up to do. Last year wasn’t T-Rich’s best year by any means and in 2013 he seems to have more of a focus than ever.”
“Vino returned to his stellar form during the 2012 Champion’s Cup. I expect him to reassert himself as the best in the land in 2013. It’s tough to know who will lead the Knighthawks offense. But it’s clear that Vino is the clear leader on the back end.”
“After sitting out half of last seaon, it took a while for Cosmo to shake off the rust. He’ll be back in top form this year.”
Rookie of the Year: mark matthews
Voting breakdown: Mark Matthews (Edmonton Rush, 4 votes), Dhane Smith (Buffalo Bandits, 1), Joe Resetarits (Calgary Roughnecks, 1)
“Not exactly going out on a limb here, but there’s a reason there was no suspense to the first pick in this year’s draft. It was full of good players but Mark Matthews is in a league of his own among rookies.”
“Mark Matthews will be relied on more than any rookie in the league. It will be his to take.”
“Matthews will be a favorite, but I could see Joe Resetarits having one of the best American rookie campaigns the league’s ever seen. That could translate to as good of a season as Matthews’, who will have to do some heavy lifting for the Rush.”Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to RochesterSports.com.
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