The only major loss of the off-season was Mark Burton, the 2015 scoring title holder, who was released from his two-year contract. In addition, the team lost Andrew Lynch and Jeff Pape from the Western Conference Championship team, but added both Ben Wiggins and Steve Gussin from the 2013 squad.
With the loss of Burton, it was clear that Khalif El-Salaam was going to be stepping into Burton's role on the team. El-Salaam would be getting a lot of touches on the disc as a handler and also become a deep option on occasion making him really difficult to cover and shut down.
Everyone knew that having El-Salaam as a focal point was going to be difficult at times during the season. El-Salaam had multiple ultimate commitments that would conflict with the MLU schedule, including college sectionals, regionals, and nationals and the WUGC in London. As a result El-Salaam only played in four games on the entire season, missing seven games, one of which was the Western Conference Championship.
For the four games El-Salaam did play in, he was unstoppable. He scored 13 goals, threw 21 assists, and had five blocks. On average that is 3.25 goals per game, 5.25 assists per game and 1.25 blocks per game; easily the best scoring averages in the league for players who played in three games or more (i.e. Tannor Johnson). He was so dominant that by season's end he was still tied for eighth in scoring throughout the entire MLU.
Early on, other problems became to arise for the Rainmakers. Wiggins addition looked to fill in Pape's role as a key offensive handler. A preseason injury though sidelined Wiggins and as the season continued he never made it onto a gameday roster. The team also lost O-line handler Gavin McKibben (three goals, 10 assists, 114/122 throws, 89 points played) halfway through the season.
Without El-Salaam, Wiggins, and McKibbin, it left little depth at the handler position on offense and prevented them from ever overtaking the Stags. In the Western Conference Championship, the Rainmakers got blown out 18-9, ending their 2016 campaign.
vs. Nighthawks: 4-0 PD: +34
vs. Dogfish: 3-0 PD: +25
vs. Stags: 0-3 (0-1) PD: -19 (-9)
If there was going to be a team to threaten Seattle's postseason bid, it was going to be the San Francisco Dogfish. In 2015 it was evident that they under-performed but were capable of stringing together a strong performance (they were only team to knock off the Stags).
However, any threat of them overtaking the Rainmakers was debunked in Week 7, as Seattle dominated 29-16. The second highest point total any team put up in 2016.
In this game, which was one of the few El-Salaam played in, Seattle reeled off 17 breaks (11 in the first half). The team converted on break opportunities 63 percent of the time helping them get their season break possession scoring efficiency to 55.4 percent, the highest in MLU history.
The duo of El-Salaam (four goals, four assists) and Henry Phan (four assists, 34/37 throws) led the D-line of the Rainmakers. This game goes to show that if Seattle's offense can keep up with another team's offense and El-Salaam can be put on defense, this becomes a really dangerous team.
Team MVP: Brad Houser
(29G, 16A, 4B, 94/109 throws, 0.701 TPOP)
Team Star: Khalif El-Salaam (4 weeks)
Rookie of the Year: Dylan Harrington
(12G, 8B, 17/18 throws, 69 D-line Points Played)