5 Throwers To Watch On New Teams

March 25, 2024
By Adam Ruffner

Throwers are the backbone of every good offense in the UFA. Here are five throwers on new teams in 2024 that could be big difference makers.

Ian Sweeney - Seattle Cascades
2023 per game averages: 26 points played, 3.3 assists, 37 completions (88.7%), 1.4 hockey assists, 1.9 hucks, 390 throwing yards

A power throwing lefty and Portland’s leading assist getter last season, Ian Sweeney has the kind of arm that could make the Cascades receiving core into a nuclear-level threat. Jack Brown, Zeppelin Raunig, Garrett Martin, and Khalif El-Salaam are all stars in one-on-one matchups downfield, and all four averaged over 225 receiving yards per game last season. Sweeney’s full-field range and deep kit of throws could maximize this team’s ability to produce explosive plays, giving Seattle the kind of offensive punch to push into the league’s top 10 and make this team a true playoff contender.

The throwaways are certainly a concern for a Cascades team that finished bottom eight in the UFA in turnovers per game last season; Sweeney had the third most (38) in the league despite starting in just nine games in 2023. But with a more robust throwing lineup surrounding him and his first full season of pro play under his belt, Sweeney’s completion percentages figure to improve dramatically in 2024. 

Clint McSherry - Carolina Flyers
2023 per game averages: 21 points played, 3.7 assists, 44 completions (93.3%), 2.5 hockey assists, 1.2 hucks, 404 throwing yards

Carolina is certainly going to feel the effects of losing Matt Gouchoe-Hanas and Joe White in the backfield, but they’ve re-added a hidden gem after several years away. Over the last two seasons, Clint McSherry has quietly been one of the most prolific passers in the league on a per game basis, able to command small spaces and engage the longball. The 30-year-old McSherry has completed a huck in 13 straight games, and returns to the Flyers for the first time since 2018. He was one of just five players to average over 400 throwing yards per start last season, and his 45 completions per game since the start of the 2022 season put him in the top 15 in the UFA. 

The Flyers were already one of just six teams to average over eight huck completions per game in 2023, and the re-signing of McSherry alongside other team legends Henry Fisher and Allan Laviolette will make Carolina’s attack even more potent from deep in 2024. This is crucial for a Flyers offense that relies on the success of the deep game: In Carolina’s final four losses of the season, they averaged just over five hucks per game at a poor 49.5 percent clip. 

Joe White - Chicago Union (Pictured)
2023 per game averages: 19 points played, 3.8 assists, 28 completions (92.7%), 1.8 hockey assists, 206 throwing yards

Joe White made five starts for the Union during their deep postseason run in 2022, but never had the kind of featured throwing role he showcased last year on the Flyers. The additions of Jeff Weis and John Lithio this offseason give Chicago the deepest receiving talent in the division, and White could be the playmaker that makes this offense formidable again.

Because of his dominant playmaking and athleticism in the open, White is often afforded a cushion in coverage when he’s nestled in the backfield. White certainly has range, but he’s learned to exploit handler space with a ruthless blend of touch, length, mobility, and acceleration as a thrower, outpacing his matchup to the next spot and dictating the offense with a throw-by-throw rhythm that makes ample use of the break side. The result is lots of quick movement and open looks that leaves defenses a step behind White dealing passes.  

Jeremy Knopf - Colorado Summit
2023 per game averages: 12 points played, 0.43 assists, 15.7 completions (96.5%), 0.4 hockey assists, 100 throwing yards

Maybe my favorite need-fit signing of the offseason, Jeremy Knopf has been nearly mistake-free as an important pivot handler in DC’s highly efficient offense the past two seasons. For all their talent, Colorado struggled with offensive consistency in 2023, and Knopf adds reliability and depth. He doesn’t seek to stretch the field—Knopf has just five huck attempts over his past 18 starts, and has connected on four of them—but instead operates as a high-volume precision passer that works as an O-line problem solver. 

And in one of the more impressive throwing feats of the last several seasons, Knopf capped off his 2022 season with six straight starts of 20 or more completions and zero throwaways, and completed 183 consecutive throws to finish the year. He posted similar efficiency numbers as a passer last year, but saw his playing time get cut in half due to the Breeze’s extensive signings. If he can find a spot in the Summit’s offensive rotation this season, he might be a difference maker in the race for the West Division crown. 

Jake Kenniv - Indianapolis AlleyCats
2023 per game averages: 25 points played, 2.4 assists, 29 completions (92.8%), 1.8 hockey assists, 137 throwing yards

A receiving threat since he entered the league in 2021, Jake Kenniv added multiple dimensions as a thrower for Detroit last season. His size and quick release make him hard to fluster, and he knows how to use his legs to get to his spots and stay in rhythm. And while he prefers mobility to standing still in a pocket, Kenniv’s confidence and skill with his forehand make him dangerous from 40-plus yards out. And for a player that never topped 30 throws in a game before 2023, Kenniv showed no sweat in dishing out two different 50-completion performances in his final three starts last year. 

Indy has one of the most tenured offensive lineups in the UFA, so it remains to be seen exactly where Kenniv will slot in. But with the departure of Jeremy Keusch, the AlleyCats have a hybrid role that could be perfect for Kenniv.