Updated: Sep 13
2023 Record: 7-3, 2nd in PLL, lost in Semifinals
2024 Draft Picks: 6th overall, 14th overall, 22nd overall, 30th overall
Offensive Efficiency: 35.5%, 1st in PLL
Defensive Efficiency: 24.3%, 1st in PLL
Pending Free Agents:
Brodie Merrill (holdout list)
Cade Van Raaphorst
Where do you even start? The Cannons won a single game a year ago, lost Lyle Thompson, and brought in Brian Holman to turn things around. The expectations for the Cannons in year one of the Holman era were basically zero. Just about everyone expected them to be in the basement again, leaving room for some growth and improvement with a new system. The Cannons took a sledgehammer to those expectations.
They lost in week one to Archers, the best team in the league though we didn’t know yet it, by three goals. They lost in OT to Chaos in Week 2. They beat Chrome in week 3, and that was the breakthrough. They won seven of eight to close the regular season, playing a brand of lacrosse that was selfless, exciting, and joyful. Their efficiency on offense was off the chart. The difference between the Cannons are the 2nd place team is bigger than the difference between the 2nd place and 5th place team in the league. They shot 32.5% as a team, the only team to go north of 30%.
The Cannons turnaround made believers out of everyone in a hurry. Asher Nolting took his game to ridiculous heights, putting himself in the conversation for MVP and Attackman of the Year. He and Marcus Holman were the top two in the PLL in points. Coach Holman’s personnel moves were perfect for the team. Matt Campbell was an impact player in year one after the Cannons took him at the top of the 2nd round, with their first pick in the draft. They added Cade Van Raaphorst from the player pool after his release by Atlas, and CVR hit four twos and was a veteran, calming presence on the defense. Max Wayne emerged as an every game starter. Colin Kirst was a Goalie of the Year finalist in his first year as a starter, taking over for Adam Ghitelman early in the year. They added Ethan Rall in post draft waivers, and Rall promptly became an LSM of the Year finalist. Bubba Fairman and Zach Goodrich were arguably the best SSDM pair in the league.
Coach Holman said there was something magical about this team this year, and you can’t disagree. They were the most fun story in the league.
There are major questions for the offseason that will affect how the Cannons approach their needs this offseason. If the shot clock rules are reverted or changed, the Cannons will need to look for a faceoff specialist. They didn’t dress or use a faceoff specialist from Week 3 onward, and their only rostered specialist is Bones Kelly who will be a free agent. If the PLL makes a change, and what that change is, it will tell the Cannons how they need to think about moves around the faceoff position.
Second major question is, will Lyle Thompson be back? Thompson took this summer to play for a Mann Cup with Six Nations. He has one more year on his deal with the Cannons, returning next year is adding one of the best players to ever pick up a stick to the team. The last time he played for the team the personnel was different, the coaching staff was different, the culture was different, it all changed this year. Fitting Lyle back in should he return would be the top challenge for the Cannons this offseason. This is a team that was on the cusp of a trip to the Championship and just wrapped up a truly special season. The off season need really is finding out how to capture that magic again in 2024.
The Cannons free agent list is substantial. A lot of their signees came on one year deals. There’s a few reasons for that. First, the deals are player friendly, so not shocking to see that’s what players are looking for. A long term deal with a team that was clearly going to be rebuilding is not a great move for players in a league where deals aren’t guaranteed. But after the season they just had, you’ll have a hard time finding a single player on that list who wants to go somewhere else. Expect the Cannons to try and retain just about everyone. There will be some departures. Kyle Hartzell said after the semifinals that this was indeed his last year. Adam Ghitelman is one of the elder statesmen in the league at this point. A few retirements may be coming, but otherwise, this team all but certainly will look to run it back. Jeff Trainor said after the quarterfinals that Coach Holman makes his guys believe, and he’d run through a wall for his coach. That’s a common sentiment in that locker room.
Players around the league took notice of just what the Cannons were able to do this year, and how much the locker room believed in what they were doing, and loved playing together. It’s the kind of thing outsiders look at and want to be a part of. It’s not crazy to suggest some free agents will be interested in joining the Cannons just to be part of what they saw this year, and play for Coach Holman. There are 25 spots, 19 on gameday. They’ll have to evaluate outsiders joining for their belief in the Cannons culture and process and make moves accordingly, being careful not to upset what they built in 2023.
Last year the Cannons only had two picks in the draft, this year they have all four. Similar to free agency, retirements, rule changes, and the Lyle Thompson question will have an impact on what the Cannons try to do in the draft. Hartzell’s retirement is a known, so expect Rall the become the primary LSM. Matt Rees suffered a major knee injury in the final game of the regular season, his recovery and availability going forward are up in the air. Some depth at the LSM spot could be a target for the Cannons. They can sign Craig Chick back, they can also target a players like Jake Piseno, Tyler Carpenter, and Roy Meyer in the draft. If they want to get younger at attack with Holman more than a decade into his pro career, they’ll have solid options that can be shooters or off ball weapons like Josh Zawada, Payton Cormier, or even Garrett Degnon.