Week 10 of the National Lacrosse League season was a light one, as just three games took place, meaning there was little movement in the league’s Rookie of the Year race. In Rochester’s 9-8 overtime victory against the Calgary Roughnecks, four freshmen saw action as Graeme Hossack, Reilly O’Connor, Tyson Bell and Wesley Berg dressed for their respective clubs. Meanwhile in Vancouver, four more freshmen took to the floor with Mitch de Snoo, Anthony Malcom, Ryan Wagner and Jordan Durston playing, while Mike Mallory and Jordan Gilles dressed for the Colorado Mammoth in their 14-13 win over New England.
With the likes of Jesse King, Lyle Thompson, Randy Staats and Chad Tutton all idle this week, not much changes as far as the top rookies go, however a strong five-point performance from Wesley Berg pushes him up one spot, while Jordan Durston and Reilly O’Connor also see slight bumps up the ranking after strong outings.
1. (1) Jesse King (LF) – Georgia Swarm
The 6’3, 200 pound standout was idle during last week’s play but King has earned his spot atop the rookie rankings as a consistent, high-end offensive performer who really is the straw that stirs the Georgia Swarm’s drink at the offensive end of the floor. The dynamic lefty out of Victoria, BC sits tied with veteran Stephan LeBlanc for 17th overall in league scoring with 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points in just 8 games.
2. (2) Graeme Hossack (D) – Rochester Knighthawks
An integral part of a Knighthawks defensive core that limited a potent Calgary offence to just three goals through the first thirty minutes of play and just eight all together, Hossack remains a legitimate threat to take home Rookie of the Year honours While it wasn’t Hossack’s most impressive performance of the season and he certainly didn’t put up his most favourable stat line, the Port Perry, Ontario native was once again stout defensively.
3. (3) Randy Staats (RF) – Georgia Swarm
Arguably the most exciting player out of the 2015 NLL draft class, Staats also maintains his position among the top three suitors for Rookie of the Year honours. While the former Six Nations Arrows scoring sensation was also idle this past weekend, his dominance at the offensive end of the floor on a game by game basis is something to revel at. In just nine games this season Staats has put up a stat line of 19 goals and 23 assists for 42 points, which places him 15th in league scoring, tied with veteran offensive producer, Kevin Crowley.
4. (5) Wesley Berg (RF) – Calgary Roughnecks
Our first riser in this week’s rankings, Berg was a fairly dominating presence for a Roughnecks offence that was shut down for the most part on Saturday night. In Calgary’s narrow loss to Rochester, Berg fired 11 shots on goal, picked up five assists and scooped up six loose balls. Berg continues to look better and better with each week of seasoning and it won’t be long before he and Curtis Dickson form the potent 1-2 punch on the right side of the Roughnecks offence that Dickson and Shawn Evans provided for the better part of four seasons.
5. (4) Chad Tutton (D) – Georgia Swarm
Tutton slides down one spot this week, but through no fault of his own; as not only was his team idle last weekend, but Berg’s performance was quite impressive and warranted a bump up the Rookie Rankings. Tutton has been a versatile threat for the Swarm this season, excelling at both ends of the floor while opening the eyes of some who doubted his abilities as the 5th overall pick. Still, Tutton sits with a balanced 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points in 9 games, along with 39 loose balls and 15 created turnovers. A dark horse to capture Rookie of the Year honours, an equally strong second half to the 2016 season could vault Tutton into serious consideration for the award.
6. (6) Lyle Thompson (RF) – Georgia Swarm
Like the rest of his highly-talented freshmen counterparts in Georgia, Thompson did not see action this weekend, but remains a true threat in the Rookie of the Year race. Because of how good Jesse King, Randy Staats and Chad Tutton have been for the Swarm, people often forget Thompson sits just outside the league’s top 30 scorers with 10 goals and 20 assists in just 9 games. A highlight reel waiting to happen type of player, it would come as no shock to me if the league’s most recent first overall pick broke out in a huge way throughout the second half of the season.
7. (10) Reilly O’Connor (LF) – Calgary Roughnecks
O’Connor receives the biggest bump up the Rookie Rankings this week, going from tenth to seventh. While the Roughnecks offence was effectively shut down on Saturday night, O’Connor again looked good as his confidence continues to grow. The first year forward out of Whitby, Ontario picked up his fourth multiple point game in a row as he’s settled into a role and gained more touches with Dane Dobbie out of the lineup. While O’Connor hasn’t put up Dobbie-like numbers, he has produced, which has softened the loss of the Roughnecks potent left-handed threat.
8. (9) Jordan Durston (LF) – Vancouver Stealth
Accounting for nearly half of your team’s offensive production in a 13-8 loss certainly deserves a bump up the Rookie Rankings. On a night where Logan Schuss, Rhys Duch and Garrett Billings combined for two goals, Durston stepped up and found twine on three occasions for the struggling Stealth, who have now lost 3 of their last 4 games. While Durston has maintained his role as a depth player for the Stealth, Saturday was a prime example of his ability to step up in the clutch and provide secondary scoring when the big guns aren’t going. Durston has made a career out of stepping up at the right times and continues to prove his worth to the Stealth with consistent offensive contributions.
9. (7) Jordan Gilles (D) – Colorado Mammoth
Gilles has cooled off some since his scorching start to the 2016 campaign, but he remains an integral part to the Mammoth back end. While the stat lines aren’t exactly what they were at the start of the season (pointless in his last 4 games), Gilles continues to provide solid defensive zone play while excelling in transition. With 3 loose balls in his Mammoth’s one-goal win over New England, Gilles now sports a stat line of 5 goals, 35 loose balls and 9 created turnovers…pretty good for a sixth round pick out of Richmond, BC.
10. (HM) Dan Taylor (LF) – Saskatchewan Rush
While Taylor’s Saskatchewan Rush did not see action during Week 10 , the Calgary, Alberta native has been impressive in his first three National Lacrosse League games. With 2 goals and 6 assists in limited action behind Zack Greer, Mark Matthews and Riley Loewen, the towering 6’3”, 207 pound lefty has taken full advantage of his opportunities. If his play of late is any indication of what could be in store for the Lehigh University grad, the Rush have an absolute steal on their hands and the rest of the NLL should be lucky Taylor finds himself stuck behind a glut of left handed talent on the Rush roster.
Tyson Bell (8) (D) – Calgary Roughnecks
Anthony Malcom (RF) – Buffalo Bandits
Mike Mallory (RF) – Colorado Mammoth
Dan Lintner (RF) – Toronto Rock
Adam Bomberry (D) – Rochester Knighthawks