Edmonton Rush 2012 Preview: Will This Be Their NLL Breakthrough Year?

Jim FlanneryAnalyst IDecember 25, 2011

Ryan Ward (credit: David Moll)
Ryan Ward (credit: David Moll)

The Edmonton Rush have played in the National Lacrosse League for six seasons now and have only finished in the top half of the West Division once in that time. Following a major rebuild this offseason, the team appears poised to change that and get themselves into a winning frame of mind.

On the bad-news side of things, Edmonton has been unable to sign Athan Iannucci, a key piece in a major deal over the summer with Philadelphia that saw top transition player Brodie Merrill sent to the Wings.

Iannucci broke Gary Gait's single-season scoring record in 2008 by recording a whopping 71 goals. Although he is not quite the same sniper he was back then due to injury issues that cost him the entire 2010 season, he is still a very effective scorer, tallying 29 goals and 61 points last season. His inclusion in the Rush's offense would have given them several very effective scoring options.

The good news is that Edmonton has added a number of quality pieces to revamp their roster and make them better overall.

Aaron Wilson, acquired in a deal with the Minnesota Storm, is a quality scorer who picked up 57 points last season and is capable of being even more explosive, having notched as many as 41 goals in 2005 and 89 points in 2010.

Shawn Williams, who came across from Rochester, led the Knighthawks in points last season with 77 and has broken the 90-point barrier twice in his career. Williams and Wilson, along with returning Rush contributors Corey Small (63 points), Ryan Ward (58 points) and Scott Evans (46 points), should provide much more firepower to the Rush attack this year.

With Merrill's departure, the transition game is now anchored by Jimmy Quinlan, who recorded 11 points and 74 loose balls last year. He is a solid performer at both ends and has scored as many as 55 points in 2007.

The defense has a number of young, energetic players. Brett Mydske is entering his third year in the NLL, while Jon Lafontaine and Jarret Toll are coming off solid rookie campaigns for the Rush.

Another big change for Edmonton this year will be between the pipes. Aaron Bold (11.80 GAA) and Kevin Croswell (11.69 GAA) both came in via trades and will likely share the bulk of the duties. Highly-touted youngster Brodie McDonald also came over in the Merrill deal and may see a heavier workload as the season progresses.   

The Rush host the Colorado Mammoth on January 20th for their regular season opener.