NLL Franchises Announce 2014 Rosters, Some Surprise Cuts

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NLL Franchises Announce 2014 Rosters, Some Surprise Cuts
Photo: Bill Whippert, via nll.com
Brandon Miller (right) is one of several surprise cuts in the NLL this year.

Monday, Dec. 16 was the deadline for every team in the National Lacrosse League to cut their rosters down to their final numbers, reducing their preseason training camp rosters down to 20 players and four practice squad members.

Following the announcement of the NLL's new Collective Bargaining Agreement on October 22, teams have not only been scrambling to sign their free agents, they have also been getting their heads around smaller roster sizes.

In previous years, teams were able to carry 23 players with three players on the practice roster. With three spots per team now gone, cuts have been that much more difficult.

Additionally, teams that break the $400,000 threshold in payroll will be paying a luxury tax. That means retaining high-priced veteran talent could wind up being more expensive than it's worth.

So while most of the familiar faces are back for the upcoming season, there are a few big names that are conspicuously absent. 

Far and away the biggest name that isn't on an NLL roster right now is Paul Rabil. Generally considered to be the best active field lacrosse player, and also one of the better transition players in the NLL, Rabil picked up 38 points and 60 loose balls for the Philadelphia Wings last year.

This year he has opted not to play.

Although he suffered a significant injury over the summer, indications are that he should be fine to compete this year in the NLL, according to Ed Miller of Crave Online.

Speculation by Teddy Jenner of ILIndoor.com, however, is that Rabil and several other American lacrosse players might be opting out of the indoor game in favor of being healthy and ready to go for next summer's FIL World Field Lacrosse championships.

Whatever Rabil's reasons, it looks like he will not be with Philly this year, putting a big hole in their lineup.

The next big name that jumps out is Casey Powell of the Colorado Mammoth. Like Rabil, Powell is holding out this year, according to Stephen Stamp of ILIndoor.com. 

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Powell is a future Hall of Famer who contributed 32 points in six games last year to the Mammoth, following a midseason trade from the Rochester Knighthawks

But Powell and Rabil are two players who chose not to return this year for their own reasons. The real surprises were the players who got cut coming out of training camp.

The Vancouver Stealth have released Athan Iannucci. The forward was third on the Stealth in scoring in 2013 with 47 points, and in 2008 Iannucci set the single-season record for most goals with 71.

He is generally considered one of the better snipers in the NLL, but he's apparently not enough of an asset for the Stealth to keep around.

The Mammoth cut team captain Gavin Prout, per ILIndoor.com. The 35-year-old didn't even attend training camp, so it looks like the writing was already on the wall, but after another solid season in 2013 where he amassed 41 points, it looked like he still had gas in the tank.

The Knighthawks have released veteran forward Mike Accursi, the only player in Rochester history to win three Champion's Cups with the team. Accursi played six of his 16 years in the NLL with the K'Hawks and has been a critical part of their recent success. 

The good news for Accursi is that Rochester is going to make a place for him in the front office, according to its official website, so he's not out of the game entirely.

After being given the franchise tag in October, the Wings have cut Brandon Miller. The 13-year vet has spent five-and-a-half seasons as the Wings' No. 1 goalie and, although Philly acquired Evan Kirk from the Minnesota Swarm over the summer to provide support between the pipes, it was not expected that a franchise player would be shown the door.

One other surprise cut was Corbyn Tao from the Swarm roster. Unlike the other people on this list, Tao is generally considered to be a young up-and-comer, having just completed his second year in the NLL. In that time, he has averaged exactly two points per game while also collecting 112 loosies in 31 games. 

While his sophomore campaign was not quite as impressive as his rookie season, the former second-round draft pick looked to be a big part of Minnesota's youth movement. Apparently it was not to be.

As the regular season wears on, it seems unlikely that all this talent will be sitting on the sidelines for too long. Players like Iannucci, Tao and Miller all have value for a team that is hampered by injuries, so look to see some or all of them back in the NLL before the season wraps.

 

Follow me on Twitter @calgaryjimbo

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