The 2018-19 season is right around the corner.
The six-time NLL champion Toronto Rock will not be on the opening slate of games. Instead, they’ll open their season at the KeyBank Center against the rival Buffalo Bandits.
Toronto had an up and down campaign in 2017-18, as they missed the playoffs for just the fourth time in their 20-year history.
The Rock offence will be the key to victory this year, with a three-headed monster and several solid complimentary pieces creating an impressive scoring committee.
Here’s what the Rock attack will look like come opening night.
Tom Schreiber (R)
What more can be said about Tom Schreiber? After two seasons in the NLL, he is unquestionably the x-factor for the Toronto Rock. “Captain America” was in the lineup for the magical four-game stretch last season where the Rock posted over 20 goals per game. However, a partially torn PCL kept him out of the lineup for seven games.
Schreiber could very well have surpassed his 2016 total of 94 points had he not missed time. He still managed to post 25 goals and 64 points in 11 games. Schreiber will once again be the catalyst on offence. He is one of the most skilled forwards in the NLL after two years, and his lethal shot and incredible passing ability will cause fits for opposing defences.
Rob Hellyer (R)
Hellyer missed the entire 2017 season due to a torn ACL, but returned to action last season with fire. Sharing the left side of the floor with Schreiber, the duo lit up the opposition to open the season.
With Schreiber’s injury, more of the defensive focus was put on Hellyer. He still managed to finish first in team scoring – and sixth in the league – with 30 goals and 93 points across 18 contests.
Hellyer is undoubtedly a driving force at the offensive end. A healthy Schreiber will take some of the load off his shoulders, but as a player who’s produced three consecutive 90-plus point campaigns, there will be high expectations.
Adam Jones (L)
After being the key acquisition by the Rock ahead of the 2017-18 season, Jones managed to live up to the hype surrounding him.
He posted a team-high 37 goals to go along with 89 points in 18 games. It was the fourth time in Jones’ career that he posted 35 or more goals and the second time he eclipsed 85 points in a season.
Jones is the main left-handed threat on the floor and will need some help from his fellow lefties to alleviate some of the pressure from top defenders. He will be one of the main shooting threats on the power play with Brett Hickey out of the picture.
Dan Lintner (R)
With former 50-goal man Hickey, Schreiber, and a returning Hellyer in the fold, Lintner spent some time in the press box last season. He finally got a chance to be in the lineup full-time when Schreiber went down.
As the main right-handed crease threat, Lintner primarily served as a finisher, scoring 18 goals in 10 games. He finished the year with a career-high 25 points.
With Hickey heading to Philadelphia in this summer’s expansion draft, Lintner will have an increased role in Toronto’s offence in 2018-19.
Johnny Powless (L)
The key piece of the Rock’s offseason, Powless is just 25 years old, but already has seven NLL seasons and four championships under his belt. He won three times with the Rochester Knighthawks in his first three pro seasons and captured his fourth ring with the Georgia Swarm in 2017.
Powless finished last season with 17 points in 10 games as a member of the New England Black Wolves. He was traded to Calgary for a pair of picks, but the Roughnecks then flipped him to the Rock that same day in exchange for forward Dan Taylor.
He played for the Oakville Rock – where Toronto owner, president, and general manager Jamie Dawick is the director of lacrosse operations – this past summer. Powless led the team in scoring with 46 points in 12 games.
Over his career, he’s managed to put up five 20-plus goal seasons and four campaigns with 50 or more points. With the other weapons on the Rock offence, Powless looks poised for a bounce-back season.
Kieran McArdle (L)
McArdle has played in a platoon role for the first two years of his NLL career. After signing in Toronto ahead of the 2017 season, the lefty was rotated in and out of the lineup on a week-to-week basis to accommodate Reinholdt, Evans, and Lintner.
He played in all but two games last season, posting 18 goals and 39 points, which was good for sixth in team scoring.
The 26-year-old is still learning the box game with every passing week and he has gotten better with time. Like Schreiber, the field lacrosse star has a bullet of a shot from the perimeter and is always a threat when defences give him room to create.
Phil Caputo (R)
Caputo has been a jack-of-all-trades for the Rock during his career. After playing on the back end during his first season in Toronto, the versatile righty made the jump to the offensive end in the wake of Schreiber’s injury.
He finished with just seven points in twelve contests last season. He will also be in the fold as a transition player and forward for the Rock depending on the matchup. His versatility is a huge plus for head coach Matt Sawyer as he can put Caputo anywhere on the floor and not worry about him.
Dan Craig (L)
Craig was the biggest surprise for the Rock last season. A sixth-round pick of the Rock in 2017, Craig managed to score nine goals and 20 points in nine games last season. He had a four-point game in his NLL debut against Buffalo – it was the first box lacrosse game he’d played since 2015.
The 24-year-old will likely be forced into the same committee role as last season, seeing action on back-to-backs or every few weeks. He has the skill to take another jump in his development.
Another member of the Oakville Rock, Craig potted 11 goals and 21 points in 7 MSL contests this past summer.
Craig has the chance to be another steady contributor for the Rock this season. With Reid Reinholdt missing the majority of the season due to injury, Craig will get a big opportunity to carve out a role for himself with the Rock.
Reid Reinholdt (L) (Physically unable to play list)
Reinholdt had a breakout rookie campaign in 2017 and followed up with an even better outing last season.
With a full 18-game slate to showcase his ability, the 26-year-old posted a career-high 44 points to go along with his second consecutive 20-goal campaign. Reinholdt also nearly doubled his loose ball totals in 2018, cementing him as one of the best ball retrievers on the offensive end.
He was able to get an extended look with Turner Evans missing the entire 2018 season due to injury. Unfortunately, he will likely miss the majority of the 2018-19 campaign – if not the entire season – due to a torn ACL suffered while playing for the Oakville Rock this summer.