Who Should Chrome Re-sign this Off-season?
By Nick Zoroya | Aug 29, 2023
When asked about what the teams priorities are headed into the offseason, Chrome LC Head Coach Tim Soudan referenced two key factors: get better on the offensive end by making changes and figure out the faceoff rules for 2024 and adapt. The defense was stout all season and oftentimes the only reason that the Chrome were competitive.
Chrome enter the offseason with 12 players on expiring contracts and unfortunately given that the team had the league's worst record and least efficient offense, drastic changes need to be made. I examined each free agent and how they fit into next year's roster.
There are two Chrome players that are widely considered to be elite at their positions, defender JT Giles-Harris, and short stick defensive midfielder Ryan Terefenko. The team’s defense is it’s identity and losing these guys would set the franchise back several years. You can’t draft to fill these spots and there are only a handful of guys in the league that could come close. These young stars have the potential to carry the team as captains for many years to come, there's a reason they have four all-star appearances and a defensive player of the year award between them.
Mike Messenger was built for the new faceoff rules and the 32 second shot clock. It’s unfortunate that by the time Chrome decided to experiment by benching Connor Farrell, Messenger was out with injury. His ability to take faceoffs, line up on the wing, and be a two-way midfielder makes him invaluable. He has the potential to make an impact on all facets of the game, just like Zach Currier. If Chrome don’t sign him, I’m positive that teams that have embraced life post face-off specialist (ex. Cannons/Waterdogs) would be all over him.
Until the Wheels Fall Off
At 35 and 32 years of age, Mike Manley and Jesse Bernhardt may not have a lot of tread left on the tire. The leadership, grit, and ability they possessed this season proved that they can still play at an extremely high level. If I’m Coach Soudan, I sign both players and play them until they say the wheels fall off.
Both players have played the entirety of their PLL careers for Chrome, and I just don’t see them wanting to play anywhere else. This season they combined for 19 caused turnovers and 45 ground balls - not bad for two seasoned vets. It’s also important to note that while Nick Grill has been touted as a future close defenseman for the Chrome, he may need another year or two before moving into that role, and who better to learn from than Manley and Bernhardt?
Jordan MacIntosh is an original Chrome member and an impeccable leader in the locker room. The harsh truth is that he scored six points in nine games but I think his value extends beyond the scoresheet. The offense lacked a lot of things this season - ball movement, guys that win individual matchups, high quality looks. I think that bringing in stronger dodgers through the midfield and a true quarterback at X could benefit MacIntosh’s strength as an inside finisher. I just don’t see Soudan letting him loose and at 33 years old; I think he finishes his career in a Chrome kit.
For the Right Price
On a team that committed to many turnovers and penalties, Sean Sconone proved that he is an excellent goaltender. While he played well, there is no shortage of quality goaltending on PLL rosters and there are more elite guys entering the league every year. If there’s room in the budget after resigning the core of the defense, I think Sconone is the next guy up. At 52% he’ll admit he’s nowhere near his ceiling, but Chrome played so much defense that shots are bound to fall and it's hard to put a lot of blame on him.
Short stick defensive midfielders are hard to come by in this league, and the trend to dress four makes them even more valuable. Will Haus is a veteran that not only takes care of business on defense, he also takes care of the ball only committing one turnover on 61 touches. With three short stick defensive midfielders becoming free agents, it’s important that Chrome secure Haus.
Jesse King sneakily scored a point in every game he appeared in this season but often found himself riding back turnovers (9). It’s my belief that many of his turnovers were caused by trying to do too much in an offense that was looking for somebody, anybody, to step up. When Chrome add a few midfielders this offseason, I could see King thriving off ball or in the pick game. This season we saw him dodge and get double or triple teamed, not exactly what his game is built for.
Soudan said it himself, the offense needs to improve. If Chrome has any chance of improving on the offensive end they can’t hope the current roster gets better, they need to make room for new free agent signings and draft picks. All of these guys could be in the PLL next season, but I don’t think it's in a Chrome uniform.
Coach Soudan referenced examining the 2024 faceoff rules before making a decision on roster moves, a clear reference to Connor Farrell and the season he had. Despite winning over 60% of his faceoffs, Farrell committed a turnover every four touches, hampering an already anemic offense. Chrome wasn’t efficient on offense after faceoff wins and Farrell would often add to those troubles by winning the ball backwards, eating up valuable clock. Ultimately he was benched for two games while the team experimented with faceoff strategy. When it comes to winning the faceoff after a clamp Farrell is one of the best, the issues start after he’s won the faceoff.
Heacock played in eight games and scored two goals on 21 shots. He did his best to be aggressive and try to ignite the offense but his shots often missed the cage, only hitting the cage five times. He’s a proven pro, but it's clear to me that he needs either a different system or setting if he’s going to produce in the future.
Williams was thrown into two games and the lack of consistent playing time showed as he had the same number of turnovers as shots (6). I think that given his performance in the Champ Series, there's room in this league for the 6’5” midfielder, but it's clear that he needs consistent reps to have any chance at producing.
With a ton of draft stock and focus on the future, Coach Soudan has a lot of tough decisions to make this off-season.
Stay tuned later this week as I examine Chrome's strategy with the number one draft pick.