CALGARY, AB — As the 2017 season draws near, we decided to get a little bold and try to make some predictions that will totally come true.
Let’s get right into it:
1) Curtis Dickson will score 60+ goals once again
Is this really that bold? Possibly not, but no one in the NLL has ever had back-to-back 60-plus goal seasons. And considering that only Dickson and Dhane Smith surpassed the 60-goal plateau in 2016, they are the only two players with a chance to reach that milestone this season. I believe that Superman will accomplish that objective. His point total has risen every year and his goal total has increased every year since his sophomore campaign in 2012. With his penitence for highlight reel goals that routinely make us scratch our heads and his clean bill of health for the upcoming season, it would seem as though he is primed to do some big things.
2) Tyson Bell will lead all NLL defencemen in points
Last season, it was Dan MacRae of the Roughnecks who led all defencemen in points with 21. Meanwhile, then just a rookie, Tyson Bell recorded nine points in 17 games. After a full season and summer of pro lacrosse, Bell looks as ready as ever to be a force in transition. The young man was routinely found running the floor in the pre-season and at training camp, while showing his scoring touch multiple times. Given his ability to force turnovers in his own end, his fantastic speed up the floor, and his offensive talents, he could definitely see a jump in his numbers.
3) Holden Cattoni will lead all rookies in points
To be fair, there aren’t too many elite scoring forwards who qualify as rookies in 2017, but there are still enough to make this a challenging endeavour for the young Rigger. As the top two forwards taken in the NLL Draft, Cattoni’s main competition for most points scored by a rookie will come from the number one overall selection, Ryan Keenan. And that’s not to mention other talented rookies such as Josh Currier, Kyle Jackson and Zach Herreweyers. An elite shooter, Cattoni is one of few rookies in 2017 with a big role in the team’s offence. The youngster showed his scoring touch throughout the pre-season and he looks poised to be a consistent contributor from the Riggers left side.
4) All of Calgary’s 7 forwards will score at least 20 goals
Assuming no one gets hurt (all Roughnecks fans everywhere knock on wood), this could be a very difficult task to complete. While Dickson, Dobbie, Shattler, Digby and Berg are mere locks to reach the 20-goal plateau, newcomer Riley Loewen and rookie Holden Cattoni are far from guarantees. Going along with the previous prediction, Cattoni will need a bunch of goals in order to lead the pack. Playing as the third lefty off of the bench in Peterborough, the Calgary kid had 16 goals in just 12 games. Given that he will be playing in a similar role with the Riggers, Cattoni could very well reach the 20-goal plateau. As for Loewen, he has only netted 27 goals in his 41 career games, so hitting the 20-goal mark may be a tough proposition. However, as a rookie with Edmonton, Loewen was able to net 17 goals in 15 games while getting consistent playing time. That proves that he has the offensive chops to reach this goal. With four lefties and three righties all looking to take their shots and get their time on the floor, it will be tough for each member to have at least 20 goals, but it is doable with the talent of the unit.
5) Playoffs for the 15th straight year
With a very tough division and with each team improving in the off-season, making the playoffs in 2017 is going to be a difficult task. That being said, the Roughnecks improved just as much or more than any other team in the West and should be looking to return to the post-season once again in 2017. Ideally, the Roughnecks would earn a bye in the West Semi-Final and host a home playoff game, but to do that they’ll have to knock off two-time reigning champs the Saskatchewan Rush, something they’ve had trouble doing over the last year. To fulfill this prediction, all they’ll have to do is outlast one West Division opponent to earn a spot, just like they did in 2016.