Over the next moth or so I will be looking back ate each NLL team as their season comes to an end. We move to the Vancouver Warriors who were the second team to see their season come to an end. After rebranding and becoming the all new everything Vancouver Warriors we know today they had some ups and downs this season for sure.
Vancouver didn’t see much success in the win column this past season, but improvements were made and the future does look like it could be much brighter in Vancouver than it currently is.
Record: 5-13 (Home: 3-6) (Away: 3-5)
Divison Rank: 5th out of 5
League Rank: 10th out of 11
Streak: 1 – Loss
Newcomer Success: While the Warriors offense wasn’t the best in the league, in fact they were near the bottom of the league this season in points and goals, they did see a few newcomers have a lot of success. Mitch Jones came over in a trade from Buffalo and instantly made an impact in Vancouver as he led the team with 83 points (35G/48A). The best story of the year may have been the success of Keegan Bal. Vancouver finally gave Bal a shot in the league and he did not disappoint. Bal was stellar this season as he was second on the team in points with 74 points (32G/42A). Jones and Bal helped carry the offense in their first year with the Warriors and they should only improve in this system from here on out.
Goaltending: Because of some very unfortunate circumstances with Aaron Bold and his family he was not able to be the starter the entire season. While Bold did well when he was in Eric Penney really stepped up when put in as the starter for a pretty good chunk of the season. Penney ranked in the top 10 in saves at the time their season ended with 371 saves and a save percentage of .773. Aaron Bold finished the season with 355 saves and a .767 save percentage. While having a two goalie system isn’t always the best, especially when both guys are legit starters, these two didn’t let that get to them and both went out and did their job night in and night out.
Offensive Production: Outside of their top three point scorers the Warriors didn’t have that much depth on offense in terms of production. While Mitch Jones, Keegan Bal, and Logan Schuss all all put up over 70 points their is a twenty point differetial between Schuss and the next guy in Jordan McBride. The Warriors offense did get better as the season went on, but if you look at other teams around the league they all have more than three guys they can lean on for offensive production night in and night out. Now, Joe McCready suffering a season-ending achilles injury after just five games did not help at all, but still the Warriors could have done more on the offensive end of the floor in pretty much every game this season. They would start slow or finish slow a lot of times and an outburst by just one player is usually not going to get you over the hump.
Inconsistency: The Warriors might have been the most inconsistent team in the league this season. They never once had a winning streak of more than one game and they had a few losing streaks with the most being five games. Even after good wins where they played at their best the Warriors would still come out flat or not finish for the next few games and collect losses.
Undisciplined Play: Being one of the leagues leaders in penalty minutes is never a good thing. The Warriors took so many penalties this year, and at the worst times too. Some of the penalties they got came in crunch time and gave the opposing team a huge advantage. There was even a time when I believe they had three players in the box at once, now that’s just ridiculous. I am all for playing rough and physical but you have got to learn to control yourself so that you don’t end up costing your team. Owen Barker and Matt Beers especially took a lot of penalties this season and that did not help a defense that took some time to find themselves. That is something that the Warriors will want to clean up next year for sure as you could say that some of their loses, especially close ones, were due to the fact that they took so many penalties.
Defensive Woes: This kind of ties into Vancouver getting too may penalties, but their defense didn’t look all the well and is really why the goalie play was so impressive given the goalie was left on an island some plays. While Matt Beers led that defense in front of the net and did a good job, it was the defensive corp as a whole that didn’t do well. They let so many teams just burn right by them and it ended up costing them big time. Now the defense did get better as the season went on, but they still ended as one of the worst in the league and that’s not where any unit wants to be at all.
It’s going to be a busy offseason with another expansion draft happening and the Warriors will once again losing a few players in the expansion draft.
With another expansion draft the Warriors will have to leave players unprotected. A big question is which goalie do you leave unprotected, Bold or Penney, as either has a chance of getting selected. It looks like they will protect Penney as Bold will be a UFA this summer and they protected Penney last draft. Other than that the list of protected players is pretty cut and dry. Also, because both expansion teams next year are in the east, the Warriors likely won’t be losing more than maybe one player. Each team can only lose two players at the maximum in the expansion draft.
In terms of free agency, righty forwards Jordan McBride, Joel McCready, and Mitch Jones will all be unrestricted free agents. Transition player Justin Salt, defensemen Chris O’Dougherty, Ian Hawksbee, Jarrett Toll, and Tyler Codron will all be free agents as well. The Warriors have already signed defenseman Matt Beers to a multi-year contract extension as he was se to be an unrestricted free agent this summer as well.
As it sits right now, Vancouver is in a difficult spot in the entry draft with no pick in the third round as they traded a first rounder to Saskatchewan and a second rounder to Georgia. The Warriors do have their one pick in rounds three through six though. It’ll be an interesting off-season in Vancouver but hopefully not as hectic as last year was.