2023 Record: 1-9, 8th in the PLL, missed playoffs
2024 Draft Picks: 1st Overall, 9th Overall, 11th Overall, 19th overall, 25th overall
Offensive Efficiency: 22.4%, 8th in the PLL
Defensive Efficiency: 26.9%, 5th in the PLL
Pending Free Agents:
The Chrome won on opening weekend in dramatic fashion, with rookie Cross Ferrera sticking a buzzer beating game winner against Tyler Warner. That would prove to be their only winner of the season, and a number of their games weren’t terribly close. The offense was never able to get into any sort of rhythm. They hit double digit goals just two times in their last nine games of the year. The total went under in eight of Chrome’s 10 games. The defense was fine, but the offense struggled every week to string quality possessions together. They finished the season with just 81 scores, by far last in the league. The second lowest was the Redwoods, who had 30 more scores. Chrome also hit only a pair of two pointers all year, last in the league. The absence of Brendan Nichtern had ripple effects across the offense, as Logan Wisnauskas also had a down year, with nearly half as many points as his rookie year, less than half as many goals, and his shooting percentage dipping from 39% to 20%. Wisnauskas and rookies Sam Handley and Ferrera were the only Chrome players in the top 40 in the PLL in points.
Without Nichtern at X, the offense struggled. Jackson Morrill filled in admirably and had some solid games, but the Chrome needed someone with a bit more gravity behind the goal. An X attackman pulls defenders into help positions, creating more space for players like Wisnauskas and Handley to create via dodging off a feed. A true X attackman who can distribute from behind the goal, either hunting assists or just finding players to re-dodge an unsettled defense, can unlock some production for this offense.
Defensively, there aren’t many needs now. Without Bernhardt and Manley, that all changes. Giles-Harris is one of the best in the business, and the Chrome added a talented rookie in Troy Hettinger, but without those two long time pros, suddenly the defense down low looks a bit thin. Greg Weyl has been very good in limited action and could become an every week starter, but the Chrome will likely need to be active in the pole market should Manley and/or Bernhardt hang it up.
Faceoff. More on this in the Free Agent section.
Youth. With five draft picks this team will be getting younger. But as of now, there are 9 players on this roster who are regulars on the 19 man roster and are entering year seven or more of their pro careers. Manley, Bernhardt, and Jordan Macintosh are all at year 12 or more. Giles-Harris, Hettinger, and Grill are the only poles on the team with three years or less in the pros. There’s a balance to strike between youth and experience, and Chrome are beginning to tilt toward the older side of that balance.
The list of Chrome players hitting the market is long. There are a few very easy decisions. Chrome need to do whatever they can to keep JT Giles-Harris and Ryan Terefenko. They are all pro level players at their positions, among the very best in the world. There will be some decisions made that won’t be easy. Mike Manley still plays at an elite level, and the leadership he brings as a veteran is critical, particularly for a team that will be rebuilding around some young talent. Manley will also be in year 13 of his pro career next summer. All of them have been in a Rattlers or Chrome (basically PLL Rattlers) uniform. If he’s in to be a leader of the rebuild, he’s an immediate signing. The same is true for Jesse Bernhardt, who will be entering year 12. In my opinion, if you bring back one of these guys, you should bring back both. Let them lead the defense for another year while teaching the rookies and younger players what it takes to be a successful pro.
An interesting choice will be made with Connor Farrell. The rule change this year has everyone re-evaluating their options at the faceoff position. Waterdogs and Cannons have gone with nobody at the spot most of the season. The Chrome made Farrell a healthy scratch twice during the year. The considerations here are, does the 32 second rule get reverted or changed in a meaningful way before free agency, and/or are you building an offense that you feel can have consistent success in a short shot clock? If the answer to both those questions is no, or anything other than absolutely yes really, then it might be a tough decision to retain Farrell. No doubt Farrell will work at this craft, not just on winning the draw but on his skills after winning it to reduce turnovers and get the offense going quickly. But this will remain one of the more fascinating positions to watch, particularly for Chrome. If they don’t resign Farrell and choose to keep a faceoff specialist, Maryland’s Luke Wierman looks most readily suited to the 32 second rule, should it stay in place.
Chrome could target Jackson Morrill, bringing him back to play X via free agency after trading him to the Whips. Another option in the market will be veteran Rob Pannell if he can be convinced to bring along a young offense and not sign back with the Redwoods.
Number one overall means two things. It means you get to draft a player you expect to immediately change the course of your franchise, and almost every time it means you were bad the year before and have some work to do. Both are true here, and Chrome has Brennan O’Neill waiting for them at number one.
The conundrum is, Brennan O’Neill doesn’t naturally play at X, he plays where Wisnauskas currently plays. So one of them will play out of their natural position. Connor Shellenberger is the best natural X attackman and true QB in the class, one of the best in years. Chrome would be forgoing the second coming of John Grant Jr to take Shellenberger, and would be giving him to Atlas at the two spot instead. Tim Soudan has about seven months to figure this decision out. O’Neill did just spend the World Championships running out of the box, and very effectively at that, for Team USA.
Chrome also has the first pick and third pick in round two. There are other X attackmen in this draft who will be ready made for the pro ranks. It would take a miracle for Shellenberger to fall that far, and basically the same for either Pat Kavanagh or CJ Kirst to make it round two. Matt Brandau and Ross Scott could potentially be available at those spots. Shellenberger will be the higher rated prospect, but both Brandau and Scott are All Americans and have been at the top of the college game for years. O’Neill at one, followed by taking another X attackmen who may be a step beneath some other prospects is a legit strategy .They also can add youth on the defensive end by targeting poles like Kenny Brower, Marcus Hudgins, Jake Piseno, or Mason Woodward.