The 2014 National Lacrosse League season has begun and players are making headlines every week. We’re shining the light on some of the world’s best lacrosse players in the NLL so you know who to watch this season. Make sure to represent your favorite Lacrosse team with one-of-a-kind lacrosse fan gear!
Curtis Dickson of the Calgary Roughnecks
Curtis Dickson has proved to fans of the Calgary Roughnecks and NLL that he is the king of Lacrosse. His quality and quantity of goal scoring has been surpassed by absolutely no one. Dickson is at his best in pressure cooker situations, the odds stacked completely against him, seemingly nowhere to go outside of a clock timeout. In those situations, Dickson simply succeeds and leaves the sad sack sulking for the opposition to contend with. He had five game winning goals last year, most of those fourth quarter or even OT finishers. His 7g in the span of about 20 minutes in the LAX playoffs was unscripted majesty that is easily one of the NLL’s greatest individual efforts, ever.
Kyle Rubisch of the Edmonton Rush
Kyle Rubisch has successfully garnered great results with a less abrasive approach. Rubisch, who is very much an intense and fearless Edmonton Rush competitor, operates with an in-game IQ no defender today comes close to matching. His positional play is perfection and his ability to see LAX game play develop several steps ahead of anyone is the primary reason he rocks in the forced turnover rundown. Ditto for loose balls, Rubisch was last year’s league leader among non-face-off players too. No one does defense better than him in the NLL.
Rhys Duch of the Vancouver Stealth
Rhys Duch’s individual effort and continued clutch play makes him one of today’s most dominating lacrosse offensive leaders and relied on scorers. The Vancouver Stealth sniper’s league leading 45 finishes last year were almost a quarter of the team’s total end-of-season offensive output, a percentage he also led the NLL with. His performance during last year’s playoffs (where he exceeded that quarter ownership mark when it came to Washington’s goal production) only added to his growing LAX legend, first leading a third period to topple Edmonton, then netting the game winner in a single goal W over Calgary in the West Final, and of course going stride-for-stride with the eventual champs, all while nursing a charley horse that would have sidelined most of the league.
John Grant of the Colorado Mammoth
At almost 40-years-old, John Grant is still playing lacrosse at a level few in NLL can come close to. For those that think the Colorado Mammoth player took a step back last year, it was almost impossible not to. Where was he supposed to go after setting the sport’s standard for points in a single season, passing who else but Tavares two seasons ago? Word of warning for this upcoming season, Grant may be fitter and more focused than he’s ever been. He is still skilled beyond belief, still dangerously lethal with the ball in his pocket, and still one of the greatest lacrosse players on the planet today.
Matt Vinc of the Rochester Knighthawks
Matt Vinc is the absolute best between the pipes today. Without him, the Rochester Knighthawks are not sitting as repeat Cup winners and they are not heading into 2014 as the most legitimate dynasty in the making since the Toronto Rock of the early 2000’s. While Rochester sports a solid defensive stand, Vinc still sees more than his fair share of heat, easily leading the NLL in both shots against and saves – his 662 stops in 2013 a new single season record. Past his at times perfect mechanics, it’s what Vinc allows the rest of the team to do on every shift that makes him better than the rest. Vinc’s presence allows his teammates to go after the improbable, the risky, the stuff only back-to-back Cup winners will push themselves to achieve.
Garrett Billings of the Toronto Rock
While the talk about Toronto Rock’s Garrett Billings in recent seasons has been all about his setup skills, two years ago registering the single season assist record (82) and last year touching 70, most impressive might actually be his ability to effortlessly thread the needle from the outside, probably today’s most dangerous downtown assassin. He’s yet to fully take the torch from Colin Doyle, who may not lead the team in helpers but is still Toronto’s offensive kingpin. Last year Billings did do what no other Rock scorer has ever done, posting back-to-back 100pt campaigns for the first time in franchise history.
Callum Crawford of the Minnesota Swarm
Was there a better player than Callum Crawford in the second half of the 2013 regular season? No there wasn’t. Put others’ reputations and past glories aside and simply concentrate on what players did last year and hands down not only was Minnesota Swarm’s Crawford a legit MVP candidate but he was also most critical to Minnesota’s cross-over clinch. This will be his first year since 2009 not playing alongside Ryan Benesch, maybe the two most important players in Swarm LAX franchise history. Will he find that same magic with high profile rookie Logan Schuss, presumably their top left-hander leading into the year? The Swarm’s success will definitely hinge on the response to that burning pre-season question.