CALGARY, AB — He’s not widely considered among the elite defenceman in the NLL.
But he should be.
Calgary Roughnecks defenceman Dan MacRae is one of the most underrated players in the league.
When talking about the top defenceman in the league, people often bring up Chris Corbeil, Kyle Rubisch, Brodie Merrill, Steve Priolo, and Dan Coates, among others. But rarely is MacRae acknowledged among that top group of defenders.
Drafted sixth overall in 2010, MacRae was hidden from the spotlight as Curtis Dickson was taken three picks ahead of him and has stolen the focus – for good reason.
Without the glare of the spotlight, the Oakville, ON, native has settled into his role in the defensive end and found great success.
MacRae has been a consistent force in the defensive zone, matching up against some of the best forwards in the NLL.
But not only is he strong in his own end, he’s also developed a great transition game, which he has showcased often this season.
“Dan is a smart, solid defender who can play in all situations,” said Roughnecks general manager Mike Board. “He is athletic and can use his speed to create transition opportunities for us.”
With four goals and 17 assists on the season, MacRae is having the best offensive season of his career. His previous high for any single-season was 15 points (7g, 8a) in 2014.
His 17 assists lead all defenceman in the NLL and his 21 points puts him into a tie for first in defensive scoring with Brad Self. Self, though, was used as a forward at times earlier this season as the Rochester Knighthawks dealt with injuries.
“As a defenceman, it’s never your job to get into the goal scoring stuff, but whenever it does happen, it’s always a plus.” MacRae
It wasn’t an accident that the Roughnecks assistant captain has had more opportunities in the offensive zone this season.
The Riggers coaching staff have been preaching a more aggressive transition game this season and pushing their defenceman to jump into the play if it’s available.
“That was a new goal we were setting. The coaching staff was pushing the defence to jump into the play a lot more. With a new offence, we knew it might take them a little time to gel, but we saw that they were gelling pretty well tonight. We’ve got a lot of legs in the back end and we’ve got a lot of sticks. When the coaching staff has confidence in you, it trickles down and guys are playing with that confidence. When that snowball starts rolling downhill it gets dangerous. It’s great to see the back-end pushing.” MAC
As mentioned above, 2016 has been a career year for the 27-year old and that extends beyond his point totals.
MacRae was added to the Roughnecks leadership group and was slated to wear the ‘A’ on his sweater for all away games. However, he was chosen to don the ‘C’ at the end of the season when captain Mike Carnegie went down with an injury.
Combining his defensive talents with his offensive abilities and his ability to lead, MacRae is a very well-rounded player and should be considered among the top tier in the NLL.
It’s not often you find players who can impact the game on both ends of the floor and in the dressing room.