By Paul Ryan | 4/16/14 3:00 PM
We continue our team previews with a look at the Boston Cannons.
2013 Record: 5-9
Key Losses: Brian Farrell, PT Ricci, Lee Coppersmith
Key Additions: Brodie Merrill, Diogo Godoi
2013 in Review:
Just two years removed from their 2011 title, the Cannons missed the postseason for the first time since 2008. It was also the first time Paul Rabil missed the playoffs since his rookie year. Boston was the only team to allow 200 goals last season, giving up 21 more goals against than any other team in the league. To be frank, the Cannons had a down year.
Boston needed help on defense more than anything else this offseason, so they went out and got arguably the best defenseman in the game in Brodie Merrill. The 6’4” Orangeville, Ont., native has been named MLL Defender of the Year six times in his career and adds experience to the Cannons back end. He may be getting a bit older, but at 32-years-old, he still has plenty left in the tank.
With Merrill and youngster Diogo Godoi teaming up on Boston’s D, Jordan Burke’s numbers should improve drastically from a year ago. Burke had an uncharacteristically low .504 save percentage last year and a league-worst 14.82 goals against average. You can pretty much guarantee that a goalie of Burke’s skill level won’t have two statistically bad years in a row.
However, just in case things with Burke don’t go as planned this year, Boston drafted two goalies – Penn State’s Austin Kaut and Fairfield’s Jack Murphy – as a potential backup plan. Kaut has shown flashes of brilliance for the Nittany Lions while Murphy has been one of the better goalies in the nation for the Stags. Again, hopefully it won’t come to that for Burke and the Cannons this season.
Otherwise, this team remains relatively unchanged. The offense will run through Paul Rabil – that’s a given. Young guns like Will Manny and Cam Flint should thrive in their second season after successful rookie campaigns. Some of the veteran guys like Mike Stone, Kevin Buchanan and Matt Poskay each have 30-goal potential. And head coach John Tucker will now have a full season to work his system with the guys he wants, so the Cannons should be a bit more comfortable this year.
The Cannons are nearly impossible to predict. On one hand, they looked great midway through last season, winning four straight, including two against playoff-bound Charlotte. On the other hand, they lost their final four games, including one to two-win Ohio and a blowout at home against Rochester. This team should make the playoffs in 2014, battling with New York and Charlotte for spots three and four in the postseason.
What the Experts Say:
Laxworm – Mike Sportini: The Cannons beefed up their offense with the addition of Ron Emery but that was not the area that plagued them last year – the problems were down at the other end of the field, Burke had a 14.82 goal per game average, last in the MLL – picking up Brodie Merrill and drafting Scott McWilliams will help Sweeney and Belisle out. The biggest question; can Burke step up or will he step out and allow Kaut or Murphy take his spot. The Cannons need to allow Rabil to do what he does best - everything!!
LaxDirt.com – Tim Thomas: Coming off the worst year arguably in franchise history the Cannons are another team looking to atone for last year. They were very active in the off season, bringing players like Brodie Merrill, Martin Cahill, Will Mangan and Jack Reid in to the fray to revamp this team and light a new fire in to them but they also lost some key players in the process. On defense the Cannons are better than they were a season ago, Merrill brings versatility and Reid brings a physical edge that they were lacking. On offense the additions of Mangan and Cahill are positive ones because offensive midfield depth has been an issue. On paper I think this team if they can stay healthy should contend for that 4th playoff position, but they are not a top three team.