The offseason has seen a flurry of activity for most MLU teams, while others have been oddly quiet. I thought it would be helpful if I put together a post that encapsulated all the moves, and updated it as the offseason progresses. Here’s the first edition, presented with some commentary. It is important to remember that it is still VERY early in the offseason, and a lot of moves have yet to be made, while others have been made and have not yet been announced. It would be impossible to “grade” any team so far, since every grade would receive an incomplete. And not every player is listed in the “waiting on” sections, just a few of the more significant ones. Hopefully this proves helpful as the offseason moves along.
Bringing Back: Danny Clark, Brandon Malecek, Alex Simmons, Jon Hirschberger, Jack Hatchett, Seth Reinhardt, Teddy Browar-Jarus
Waiting On: Peter Prial, Josh Markette, Jeff Graham, Alex Cooper, Will Neff
Already having inked seven players so far, the defending champs are in good shape so far. They’ve already brought back the core of their D-Line, and a couple big playmakers from their O-Line in Brandon “Muffin” Malecek and Danny Clark. While they haven’t brought back some of their biggest O-Line contributors, the Whitecaps don’t have to worry about losing any players to the AUDL since it has no presence in Boston. If they bring the whole band back together, Boston will be the unquestionable favorite in the MLU.
Bringing Back: Markham Shofner, Brian Marshall, Alan Kolick, Jeff Wodatch, Sean Keegan, Tom Doi, Dan Cantor, Calvin Oung, David Cranston,
Added: Mark Evangelisto (Owner), Matt Dewhurst (GM)
Subtracted: Dusty Rhodes (GM)
Waiting On: Delrico Johnson, Ryan Todd, Brett Bellinger, Rob Dulabon
The Current have already brought back their biggest playmakers for next season. Though they have an AUDL team in town as well there’s little doubt about who the top team in DC is, and after their best players resigned, they’ll stay the top team for 2014. Last season the Current snuck into the playoffs with just a 4-6 record, losing to Boston in the conference finals 15-23. To take the next step they may need to add another top tier player or two, given how badly Boston dominated the conference in 2013. But bringing back the core is a great first step.
New York Rumble
Bringing Back: Chris Mazur, Robbie Gillies, Joe Anderson
Added: Isaac Saul
Subtracted: Waiting On: Ben Faust, Kevin Terry, Jonathan Cox, Dan Hejimen
Bringing back Chris Mazur was obviously essential for the Rumble, and they announced his return on December 21. One thing to keep an eye on in New York is whether or not some players from the AUDL franchise, the New York Empire, might jump ship to join the Rumble, or vice versa. PoNY players Jack Marsh and Izzy Bryant played very well for the Empire last year and would be great pickups for the Rumble. But until at least one Empire or Rumble player switch, it’s best to assume that there won’t be a mass exodus one way or the other.
Bringing Back: Michael Panna, Nick Hirannet, Dave Baer, Trey Katzenbach, Art Shull, Frederick Brasz, Justin Carter, Leon Chou, Patrick Diviney, Michael Zargham, Mike Baer, Dan Furfari, Matt Glazer, Kurt Henning, Patrick Lindsey, Nick Mathison, Matt Paparone, Jonah Wisch
Added: David Brandolph, Jake Rainwater, Patrick Earles, Trent Dillon, Aaron Watson, Marcus Ranii-Dropcho
Waiting On: Sean Murray
Bringing on Jake Rainwater, Trent Dillon, and David Brandolph is a big step in putting Philadelphia’s 2012 AUDL championship team back together. None of those three played for the Spinners last season, but all of them played a part of their 2012 championship, Rainwater in particular. Brandolph had a huge season in the AUDL last season for the Philadelphia Phoenix, capturing the MVP trophy for the Eastern Conference. Dillon made a name for himself playing some of the best defense on the 2013 edition of NexGen. Along with the new additions, the Spinners have brought back almost all of their key contributors from last season. These are important steps for Philadelphia reentering the contender discussion. They may have only finished one game out of the playoffs last season, tied with the Rumble, but that’s a deceiving statistic. The Spinners started 2-0, and then lost seven games in a row. They won their last game of the season against New York, who was resting key players to save legs for their playoff deciding game the next day against DC. The Rumble and the Spinners both ended up at 3-7, but New York’s average goal differential was -1.6. Philadelphia’s was -3.2. So while the Pitt players, Rainwater and Brandolph are big additions, the Spinners have a ways to go. They’ve had the most active season for any MLU team so far, and the best, but there’s a big gap between Boston and the rest of the East. Right now the Spinners might be the favorite to finish second in the East, but that race will most likely to go down to the wire again in 2014.
Added: Rusty Brown (GM)
Subtracted: Mark Burton (Stags), Seth Wiggins
Waiting On: Everyone
The Rainmakers haven’t announced any of their players for the 2014 season yet. The biggest news for the team this offseason has been that they’ve lost Mark Burton, one of their best performers from last year, to the Portland Stags. Wiggins hasn’t announced he’s playing for any other team yet, and he barely played last year due to injury, but he’s moved east and won’t be rejoining the Rainmakers either. One complicating factor could be the new AUDL team in town, but frankly I have a hard time believing that many Rainmakers would leave the franchise after a successful season on the field, in the stands, and with their popular coach (Ben Wiggins). That said, the franchise hasn’t done much in the way of public events this offseason, like most Eastern Conference teams have. It wouldn’t shock me to see a couple players leave for more playing time and a bigger role on the Raptors, but conventional wisdom says the Rainmakers bring back almost their entire core next year. If they do, they will be a title contender in 2014.
San Francisco Dogfish
Subtracted: Beau Kittredge (AUDL-Spiders), Kevin Smith (AUDL-Spiders)
Waiting On: Ashlin Joye, everyone else
The Dogfish have been similarly quiet, not announcing any players or doing any public events. The biggest news regarding the team has been Beau Kittredge leaving for an AUDL franchise, the San Jose Spiders. Kevin Smith, who isn’t nearly as well known, but did throw 13 assists for the Dogfish last season, has also signed on with the Spiders. And according to reports, Ashlin Joye has been in contract negotiations with the Spiders as well. The Spiders have already filled 17 of their roster spots, so it’s not as if they’re going to take away the entire Dogfish core. But Revolver leadership has said that they don’t plan on having a “Revolver pro team” a la the Dogfish last season. That said, any San Francisco team is going to be competitive, and the Dogfish did win the Western Conference last season. San Francisco probably has the deepest bench of any Ultimate community in the world. They can survive losing even as many as half of their Revolver players, as long as they’re being replaced by players from teams like Boost Mobile, Polar Bears, Mischief, and Blackbird, they’ll be on solid ground.
Bringing Back: Morgan Hibbert, Alex Davis, Aaron Loach, Mathew Berezan, Kevin Underhill, Andre Gailits, Andy Collins, Mark LeDuc
Waiting On: Oscar Pottinger, Kirk Savage, Mauro Ortiz
The Nighthawks struggled more than expected last year. They lost some very close games, had some valiant comebacks fall short, and they ended up far outside of a playoff spot. Despite their not too bad -1.6 goal differential, they finished 3-7. They’re already well on their way to bringing back their 2013 core, with a few of the more experienced players yet to re-up. If the Dogfish and Rainmakers don’t end up as strong as they were in 2013, the Nighthawks could take advantage and end up representing the West in 2014.
Bringing Back: Eli Friedman, Timmy Perston, Cody Bjorklund, Ben McGinn, Chris Hancock, and Ben Lohre.
Added: Mark Burton
Waiting On:Riley Meinsershagen, Breeze Strout
The Stags were not very good last year. They were a fun team to watch, Timmy Perston was a threat no matter who was guarding him, and they were in no shortage of highlight reel plays. But they were 1-9, and got blown out on a number of occasions. Adding Mark Burton helps, but if the Stags are going to go .500 this year, they need some help from the rest of the conference. In particular, they need the talent on the Dogfish and Rainmakers to drop off. The Stags have brought back most of their top players from 2013, and they will be better than 1-9 with a -5.7 goal differential in the upcoming season. The question is how much better.
If I missed someone, give a shout in the comments and I’ll make the correction.