CALGARY, AB — The right side of the Calgary Roughnecks offence went through a major transformation this off-season.
Sean Pollock, the man who took over the role of Scott Ranger, departed the team as a free agent.
Initially, the Roughnecks looked to 2015 4th overall selection Wesley Berg as the replacement, but things changed when they pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade.
Calgary honoured the wishes of superstar right-handed forward Shawn Evans and dealt him to an eastern team where he could be closer to family. That would help make life easier with his work and taking care of his three young daughters.
In the trade, Calgary received hulking right-handed forward Tyler Digby from the New England Blackwolves – who was traded from the Vancouver Stealth a day earlier. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound sophomore put up 132 points with Vancouver over the past two seasons and dined the twine 38 times in 2015.
One of Digby’s strength’s, given his large frame, is his off-ball play. His ability to set picks and open up the floor is something Malawsky wants to utilize and is also one of the roles Pollock took on last season. With the Digby acquisition, Berg’s role changed somewhat. He can now move to the top, carrying and distributing the ball a little more than planned.
“I think with the movement of Evy it changed his role,” said Malawsky. “He was going to be a crasher and a banger, similar to what Pollock did last year. But now with Evy gone, he’s going to handle the ball more.”
The lone remaining member of the 2015 right side is Curtis ‘Superman’ Dickson.
One of the most dangerous scorers in the entire league, Dickson was fifth in the NLL in goals with 48. That number has increased in each of the past four years and he will be aiming to continue that trend in 2016.
Calgary’s new look right side features three big — none under 6’1” — strong, and talented athletes that will be able to impose themselves physically on opposing defences. That will be a new dynamic the Roughnecks offence after having a pair of smaller – but still effective – forwards last season.
It will be a big task to try to shut them down.
In addition, Berg and Digby possess powerful shots from the outside that will add another dimension to the Riggers attack.
Get ready for some long bombs.
With two thirds of the right side in their first year with the team, finding chemistry could be a challenge for the offence.
They’ve already seemed to find some, though.
In their last pre-season game, Digby stole the show, scoring five goals against his former team. Wesley Berg made an impact early, while Dickson came up big late in the contest. The trio combined for eight of the team’s 13 goals in the contest.
Not too shabby.
Expect the right side to be a big part of the offence, but not to dominate the ball as it did last year.