Slapshot Premier League
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SPL Season 1 - Preseason Top 10

Author: Northern, 12/04/19

Hot Off The Ice - Preseason Top 10

Columbus Clappers - Panarin, Dream, Meatsale, Criz
No team was able to stop the Clappers from winning the first two NSL championships, although this year in the SPL the Clappers will face a bigger challenge from multiple teams with the talent to be able to compete at their level.  Every team will have this game circled on their schedule to knock the Clappers off of their throne and make a name for themselves, but that is easier said than done when playing against the best player in the game, Panarin, who makes opponents wonder:  Why do I even play this game?  Am I even playing the same game as this guy?  Is human existence just a hopeless vacuum of despair and pain?  Things can get existential real quick when playing this team.
St. Louis Storm - Rodeo,  Fsimoneau, Chef Reno, CC
The Clappers were the closest thing to a Superteam the NSL saw.  However, with a new league and a new format, the first Superteam emerged in St. Louis.  Consisting of 3 former NSL GMs and 2 NSL finalists that took the Clappers to a Game 7 in the Season 1 NSL finals that ended on a controversial goal (whether it clipped through the goalie’s stick is still up for debate), and the MVP of Season 2, the Storm have the indisputably the best 4 man roster in the SPL.  The only problem?  Just 3 can play at a time.  Finding which three gives the Storm the best chance to take the crown away from the Clappers will be interesting to see.  I expect to see the trio of Rodeo, Fsimoneau and Chef Reno to be playing most of the games, as CC is expected to take an extended leave during the season.  However, losing CC, who is one of the top players in the game, for a period of time should not be of much detriment to the team.  Reno is more than capable to fill those shoes (skates) as shown by his 4th player award sitting on his mantle from Season 2.
Long Island Fishermen - Jak, Dyno Mike, Noob Weapons, Panther
Part Marauders, part Titanics, all hype.  This team sees the combination of the unstoppable duo of Noob and Mike from their JSL dominance with the Wreckers (and a very good NSL showing from Marauders whose season was only hindered by a slow start and apathy after the announced upcoming folding of the league mid-season) as well as the combination of Jak (who was also on that Wreckers team and filled in for the JSL championship) and Panther from the Titanics who clinched the number 1 seed in the Season 2 playoffs only to fall to the Clappers in the finals.  The two managed to snag a plethora of awards in season 2, including Panther who was voted for “Best Valued.”  Although there is no draft in the SPL, the former Titanic could easily fill this role again as he was snagged as a free agent who was looking for a team.  This team knows how to score, as every single player on the roster is a prolific scorer, and more importantly, they know how to win.
Carolina Smokers - Kspyre, TheC0ckyWalrus, SooperDooperKyle, Denn1s
TheC0ckyWalrus was my vote for MVP of the second NSL season.  He is an absolute sniper that makes you feel like you’re playing against a Russian CSGO aimbot.  As a part of the Virginia Express in Season 1 and the St. Louis Storm in Season 2, he has been a leading part in some great NSL teams who ran into buzz saws in the playoffs.  The talent on the Smokers is on par with both of those teams, and Kyle and Denn1s will be looking to rebound from the Smokers disappointing inaugural season, but with the additions of not only TheC0ckyWalrus but Mr. Wraparound himself (apologies to Panther), Kspyre, The Smokers should easily clinch a playoff spot and I would not be surprised at all to see them contending for the championship at the end of the season.
Nashville Venom - Kodiak, Qdub, Galzzy
With their return to competitive Slapshot after taking a hiatus in the second NSL season, Kodiak and Qdub will look to improve from their sole season in the NSL as New York Titanics, which saw them missing the playoffs.  This was mostly due to the constant rotation of a third that caused the team to never get real cohesion.  Henke and Gerritt were more than serviceable, but the team never really found an identity.  Now, with the addition of Galzzy who is an upgrade as the third, the Nashville Venom will have an opportunity to try to reach their potential as a team that each of these players showcases individually.  I expect them to score a lot of points, but I think the challenge will be to keep their games versus the top teams from becoming a shootout, as some of the teams ahead of them have a little more firepower.  I do think they have been underestimated in some other pre-season rankings though, and I expect this team to make the playoffs with ease.
Denver Omelets - Shiba, Scodz, Balucha, Kim Jong
Everyone has heard of the old adage, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”  But what if it’s not exactly great either?  Do you try to make some moves and add more firepower, or do you try to build on the cohesion this group displayed from Season 2?  The Omelets finished in the middle of the pack in Season 2 at 6-6.  In no way was this a terrible season for the Omelets, nor was it a team that anyone could take lightly, but they did fall short of lofty expectations.  Now, with many other teams consolidating and making moves to enhance their roster, the Omelets decided to maintain their core group of players and try to improve on their previous season.  Kim Jong adds a tremendous fourth option as he was a dominant force in the JSL in Season 2.  Still, I expect the Omelets to finish with similar results as their previous campaign.  They will knock off some of the top teams during the season, but it will take all 3 becoming red hot at the right time to make a run for the title.
Virginia Express - Rath, Hellhaunt, Seppy, Superhotglue
The under-heralded third from the St. Louis Storm, Rath, joins forces with Hellhaunt who found himself traded from the best team to the worst team in Season 2 where he had little help.  However, Hellhaunt is a proven player in this league as is evidenced by his time in Virginia in Season 1 where he finished the season in the top 10 in points.  Rath, who really emerged in Season 2 as a force in the defensive zone and an elite passer, looks to prove that he can handle becoming the face of the franchise and maintain his high level of play now that teams can focus more on him and not have to key on the explosive duo of Rodeo and TheC0ckyWalrus.  Sad boi Seppy will most likely fill the remaining starting spot after a season with the Grillers in the JSL, who were one of the top teams.  This team could find themselves safely in a playoff spot if things go right, or be on the outside looking in if things don’t click early.
Honolulu Hootenannys - EpicMan67, TheLuigi, Jambi, FatLeft
The Honolulu Hootenannys are the only team not named Clappers who can boast of an NSL champion on their roster.  The Hootenannys are a rebranded team of the Musketeers (the Toronto Turtle’s JSL affiliate) with the key addition of the rebranded player Flaunty, who saw himself traded away from the Turtles on accounts of toxicity and repeated requests for the trade.  However, the disagreements appear to have only resided amongst the NSL team, as he is welcomed back by the former players from the JSL affiliate.  The Musketeers were another top contender in the JSL division.  It will be a challenge to compete with the top tier teams in the SPL, but the roster should be able to handle the lower teams in the league with ease, and their playoff hopes will come down to how they perform against the middle of the pack teams.
Baltimore Burgers - Walster, Occelloth, Renard
Walster finished both Seasons near the very top of the scoring leaderboard; however, things will be considerably tougher on the prolific scorer as he won’t have Gubby to lean on for saves and assists like he had the previous two seasons, as well as Panther in Season 1, who together created a formidable duo in the offensive zone.  Instead he will rely on Renard, the man behind the defensive prowess of the undefeated JSL Wreckers in Season 1, and Occelloth, who is a long-time Slapshot player whose only competitive experience was a brief stint in Austin before the team folded.  Renard does have NSL experience, as he was asked to fill in for CC on the Slappers for stretch of games.  The result was less than desirable as the team went 0-4 and struggled to capture the magic of Season 1.  Expect Renard to use that as fuel though as he will be determined to erase that memory and prove to others and himself that he belongs in the top tier of competition.  Unlike most of the teams vying for playoff spots, the Burgers will have to build an identity from scratch and find cohesion and a playing style to maximize their chance at a playoff spot and promotion.
Jersey Iron Lotus - Ghoul, Reek, Rick
Never get involved in a land war in Asia.  Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.  Never discount playing against the infamous Reek-Rick duo as an easy win.  The two are well-known for their public matches and immense chemistry.  They also were two staples of the JSL Berserkers who would pummel other JSL opponents, although that team utilized a 6-man rotation.  Those two and Ghoul will have to elevate their game to sneak into the playoffs and/or earn a promotion to live up to their European namesake, but it’s definitely a reachable goal and should be one of the more interesting teams to watch throughout the season.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely the views of the author and do not represent the views and opinions of the Slapshot Premier League.