2023-24 NLL Preview: Rock Make Offseason Splash to Take Next Step
PHOTO COURTESY OF TORONTO ROCK/NLL
With the 2023-24 National Lacrosse League season set to begin Dec. 1-2, USA Lacrosse Magazine is going team by team in the days leading up to the opener. Today, we take a deep dive on the Toronto Rock.
2022-23 Record: 13-5
Head Coach: Matt Sawyer, seventh season
Assistants: Bruce Codd, Rusty Kruger, Brandon Miller
Additions: Chris Boushy, F (Halifax); Dan Lintner, F (Saskatchewan); Mark Matthews, F (Saskatchewan)
Departures: Dan Dawson, F (retired); Jamison Dilks, D (Saskatchewan); Adam Jay, D (Saskatchewan); Zach Manns, F (Saskatchewan)
STORYLINES TO WATCH
Will the additions be enough to get Toronto over the top?
Toronto’s season has come to an end in the exact same fashion the last two years — with a two-game sweep at the hands of the Buffalo Bandits in the Eastern Conference Final. While the calculus has changed slightly with the elimination of conferences this season, the Rock clearly had the Bandits in their sights as they went about their business in the offseason.
The splashiest move came in early July when Jamie Dawick sent Zach Manns, Adam Jay and a first-round pick to Saskatchewan for Mark Matthews. At 33, Matthews is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but the production hasn’t fallen off. He notched 98 points last season, his second straight year with 90 or more, after being a consistent 100-point producer from 2015-19.
Toronto additionally reunited with Dan Lintner, who was fourth on the Rush last season with 32 points, and landed Chris Boushy for a first-round pick following a career-best year in Halifax. He set new highs for goals (38) and points (57) in 2022-23.
They join an offense that already features a 100-point producer in Tom Schreiber — depending on the severity of his injury — and two players who scored in the 80s last season in Corey Small and Dan Craig.
How long will the Rock be without Tom Schreiber?
A handful of teams shared troubling injury news following roster cutdowns earlier this week, with Toronto responsible for one of the most notable. Tom Schreiber, fresh of a second-team all-league selection, starts the year on injured reserve.
Schreiber is no stranger to injury. He most recently spent time on IR during last year’s East semifinal with an upper-body ailment, but he played a full summer with the Premier Lacrosse League, winning league MVP and a PLL title, and suited up during the Rock’s preseason circuit.
Schreiber is coming off his best season yet, a 116-point and 110-loose ball campaign that included fourth-place finishes in goals and points. He was just named the fifth-best forward in the league as part of the NLL’s Top 50 and has established himself as one of the best Americans to ever suit up indoors. It’s an understatement to say losing Schreiber for any period of time drastically changes the Rock’s outlook.
The addition of Matthews helps alleviate the absence. But of course, Toronto isn’t just trying to match last year’s showing. It wants to be better.
The Rock will need to make due with a right side of Boushy, Lintner and Josh Dawick for the time being.