Men’s Top 10
1. Team Koe
In their second season together Team Koe certainly started to hit on all cylinders. They won the Brier, the World Championship, won the Canada Cup which secured the team a spot in the Canadian Olympic Trials, won a Grand Slam and won two WCT events. Will Team Koe take their foot of the gas in 2016-17 now that they’ve achieved their goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials. As Marc Kennedy shares, another issue going into the season is that Team Koe will not have played competitively for seven weeks heading into the Tim Hortons Brier.
2. Team Gushue
2015-16 was a terrific year for Team Gushue as they won 8 events including their provincial playdowns and 2 Grand Slams to go along with two other Grand Slam finals. They fell just short of winning the Brier which would have given them an automatic birth in this year’s national championship to be held in the team’s home province. Among the top priorities for Team Gushue in 2016-17 will be to qualify for and perform well at their hometown Brier and also to secure a spot for the team in the Olympic trials in order to avoid the pre-trials through which they failed to advance in 2013.
3. Team McEwen
Team McEwen continued their strong play in 2015-16 as they won the Masters Grand Slam and two other WCT events. However, most importantly, Team McEwen got the “monkey off their back” last season by qualifying for their first Brier where they made the playoffs:
4. Team Carruthers
Team Carruthers are coming off a very solid season which included a Grand Slam victory and two other Grand Slam final appearances. They failed to repeat as Manitoba champions but ended the season with a victory in the Champions Cup. It will be interesting to see their progression this year and if they can maintain or improve their #4 ranking in the WCT Order of Merit during the season.
5. Team Epping
It was an excellent season for Team Epping as they won their first Grand Slam as a team and made the final of the season ending Champions Cup. The focus this year for Team Epping will likely be to earn their first Brier appearance and work on their consistency which could allow them to move up the WCT rankings even further.
6. Team Jacobs
It was a difficult year for the 2014 Olympic champions but they ended the season on a relatively high note when they finished the round-robin at the Brier undefeated and lost in the semi-final to eventual world champions Team Koe. This was followed by a finals appearance in the Player’s Championship which they had won the previous season. Team Jacobs had admittedly lost a bit of their fire during the early part of last season and time will tell if their strong play late in the season will help them to a more energized start to the 2016-17 campaign.
7. Team Laycock
Team Laycock had a solid if unspectacular season in 2015-16. They returned to the Brier where they had a difficult week and finished 5-6 but did have a solid Grand Slam season making the playoffs in 5 slams including two semi-finals and won one event on the WCT. Team Laycock is at risk of falling into the Olympic pre-trials so they will either need an exceptional WCT season or a victory at the Canada Cup or the Brier to secure a spot directly into the trials.
8. Team Murdoch
It was a strange year for Team Murdoch as they played in 17 events last season, won a total of four events in Europe and Asia, made only one semi-final in North America and did not represent Scotland at either the European Championships or the World Championships. To move up in the WCT Order of Merit, Team Murdoch will look to improve their results in major events in 2016-17.
9. John Shuster
Team Shuster began last season in 18th spot in the WCT Order of Merit but a solid 2015-16 that included a third place finish at the World Championships, a Grand Slam semi-final appearance in the Tour Challenge and victories in three WCT events propelled them into the top ten with a lot of room for growth.
10. Team Edin
Team Edin is the highest ranked team to have made a lineup change in the off-season replacing Kristian Lindstroem at 2nd with Rasmus Wrana. It was an inconsistent season for Team Edin, they won their 2nd consecutive European Championship and another event in Europe but failed to advance to the playoffs at the World Championships and did not advance past the quarter-finals in any of the Grand Slams. It will be interesting to see if there is any type of adjustment period with their new 2nd as Team Edin attempts to improve on their 2015-16 results.
Five Teams to Watch
1. Team Bottcher
Team Bottcher is one of the team’s that made the most noise in the off-season when they added two-time Brier champion Pat Simmons at 3rd. Team Bottcher had a good season but with very few highlights making the final at two WCT events but never advancing past the quarter-finals in a Grand Slam. The addition of a talented veteran such as Simmons might provide the team with the experience and insight it needs to reach the next level in their evolution
2. Team Cotter
Team Cotter added one of the biggest “free agents” of the summer when they reunited with John Morris. The current lineup made the finals of both the 2013 Olympic Trials and the 2014 Brier. It will be interesting to see if Team Cotter can recapture the magic they had back in 2013-14.
3. Team Mouat
The 2016 World Junior champions finished last season ranked 29th in the WCT Order of Merit and will be playing a more aggressive schedule this year including at least three events in Canada. It will be interesting to see if the team can continue their rise in the rankings in 2016-17.
4. Team Dunstone
Matt Dunstone learned a hard lesson in the business of curling this off-season and will no doubt want to improve on his successes in juniors as he joins forces with Alex Forrest out of Manitoba.
5. Team McCormick
Veteran Heath McCormick has re-tooled his team in a push to qualify for the 2018 Olympics. He has added 2008 World Junior champion Chris Plys at 3rd and 2016 World Junior silver medalist Korey Dropkin at 2nd.