The Best of 2016

The Best of 2016
As 2016 comes to a close we are going to rank the top 10 lacrosse players in the world. This isn’t an All Time or Hall of Fame list, but simply the ten best lacrosse players of the current calendar year: 2016.

They could be indoor or outdoor or a combo of both. For the sake of argument let’s leave the goalies off the list, apologies to Matt Vinc and John Galloway. It is obviously a subjective list so debate is encouraged!

Dhane Smith: Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Rattlers, Six Nations Chiefs.
Twitter: @Dhanesmith92, 3,275 Followers

2016 was the year of Great Dhane. It really didn’t take that long to pick him as my number 1 player. Starting with his record breaking 137 point, 72 goal season with the Bandits. He was unstoppable at times in Banditland. The only thing that could seem to slow him down was a nagging lower body injury that robbed him of some playing time in the MSL and MLL.

He did make his MLL debut this this season playing in three games at the end of the season for Rochester. He tallied 8 goals and had 2 assists, shooting a robust 42% from the midfield. He ended the year with a dominating 5 goal effort against Atlanta. However, the Rattlers were out of the 7 team tie in MLL and didn’t qualify for the playoffs. I feel the playoffs would have been a major coming out party for him if the #RATZ made the playoffs.

His 2016 didn’t end there, he was a key contributor in the MSL/Mann Cup playoffs where his Six Nations squad won the titles. His regular season numbers were low because of injury, but he came on strong in the postseason. He led the MSL playoffs in scoring with 19 goals 22 assists and followed that with 3 goals and 17 assists in the Mann Cup series.

He finishes 2016 in total 119 goals and 133 assists, not bad. He also appeared for Team Canada in field lacrosse in an exhibition against University of Denver.

Tom Schreiber: Ohio Machine
Twitter: @TomSchreiber26, 2,317 Followers.

The midfielder was named the 2016 MLL MVP for his work this season. He finished the season with 60 points (23g, 1 2pt 36a), which was good for 3rd in MLL. The Ohio Machine had their best season to date as they made it to the Championship game, where they fell in a monsoon to the Denver Outlaws. What makes him so special to me is his passing and two handed game.

2017 should be a very interesting one for him as he has signed on to the NLL’s Toronto Rock. He has very little high end box experience. We will see how his skill set will translate. Most box players are one hand dominate, can Schreiber bring his two handed game to the box? The Machine can’t like the prospect of him missing MLL time this spring with the over lapping seasons. Stay tuned.

Shawn Evans: New England Blackwolves, Peterborough Lakers
Twitter: @shawnevans1588, 3,150 Followers.

A number of casual fans in the USA may not know much about Evans, he is one of the best pound for pound players in the indoor game. His acquisition by the Blackwolves is proving to be a gamechanger as he is a former MVP, scoring champ and franchise player in the NLL. He has entered his name in the MLL player poo and was drafted by Chesapekel, so hopefully we will see how is game translates to the field game in 2017. His 2016 NLL stat line was 50g, 68a for 118 points. In addition, led the MSL in points with 22g and 60a in the summer.

Rob Pannell: NY Lizards
Twitter: @RobPannell3, 18,400 Followers

The Lizards were unable to defend their MLL title this year, but Pannell led the MLL in scoring with 42g, 32a for 74 points, which is the league record for points in a season. He is widely considered the top attackman in MLL, a true “X” attackman who can quarterback an offense. He was named the MLL Offensive Player of the Year as well in 2016. He hasn’t taken his game to box lacrosse as of yet. A great deal of his work is done behind the goal and that may not translate to the indoor game. He will have to settle for being the world’s best field lacrosse attackman in 2016.

Paul Rabil: NY Lizards
Twitter:@PaulRabil, 68,700 Followers

The face of the MLL had another solid season in 2016 with 43g, 6 2Pt, and 23a for 72 points.

As he has matured his passing game has really improved. Rabil along with Pannell really make a great 1-2 punch for the Lizards. Off the field he really is expanding his social media presence. There were rumblings he may play in the NLL again with Toronto this winter, but that won’t be the case.

John Grant Jr.: Ohio Machine, Colorado Mammoth , Peterborough Lakers
Twitter: @JohnGrantJr24, 10,600 Followers

The legend continued to get it done in 2016. His run with the Ohio Machine after being traded by Denver was my favorite part of the past MLL season. Playing with their young talented group provided many highlight reel goals. His Machine squad fell short to his former Outlaw team in the Title game, but he continues to amaze playing at such a high level when most others are long done playing. He broke the single game record for goals in a game with10 against the Lizards this year. He is the Jaromir Jagr of the lacrosse world. Indoors he is still a huge factor for the Mammoth with a 75 point campaign in 2016.

Scott Ratliff: Atlanta Blaze
Twitter: @Srat2, 2,714 Followers

Ratliff is the only long pole to make my list. He may be the most unique player I have seen in lacrosse. A tremendous athlete who is a threat all over the field and put up 20 points with 9g, 4 2pt goals and 7a this past summer. He is a Georgia native that is the face of the Blaze. He will be taking his game indoors with the Georgia Swarm this winter.

Mark Matthews: Saskatchewan Rush, Atlanta Blaze
Twitter: @markmatthews222, 5,266 Followers

Matthews led The Rush to their second consecutive NLL title in 2016 while putting up 109 points. He also dabbled in MLL with the Atlanta Blaze scoring 23g and adding 5a in only 7 games. His 6’5 size and stick skills make him one of the most dangerous lefties in lacrosse.

Randy Staats: Georgia Swarm, Atlanta Blaze, Six Nations Chiefs
Twitter: @Staats83, 1,672 Followers

Staats had a great 2016 highlighted by a Mann Cup win with Six Nations and being named NLL Rookie of the year helping the Georgia Swarm reach the playoffs. He broke the NLL rookie scoring record in the process with (36g, 59a, 95pts). Staats also appeared in 11 games with the Atlanta Blaze and put up 46 points.

Cody Jamieson: Rochester Knighthawks, Six Nations Chiefs, NY Lizards
Twitter: @Cjamieson88, 5,334 Followers

2016 may not have been a vintage one for Jamieson, but I can’t keep him off the list. The Rochester Knighthawks couldn’t make it 4 NLL titles in a row this year, Jamieson still led the team in points with 99 (35g, 64a). Jamieson finished second in MSL scoring leading Six Nations to the Mann Cup. He was slowed in the playoffs with an ACL injury, but he was instrumental leading the Chiefs back from an 0-3 deficit to defeat Peterbourgh in the MSL finals. He made a 2 game cameo with the Lizards in MLL scoring 3 goals.

Thoughts, feelings, reactions?

@bernasconirich