The Buffalo Bandits acquired Ryan Benesch and Andrew Watt via trade from the Minnesota Swarm in exchange for draft picks. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
The Buffalo Bandits and Minnesota Swarm have announced a blockbuster trade that will send forward Ryan Benesch and transition player Andrew Watt to the Bandits in exchange for Buffalo's first-round picks in the 2015 and 2016 NLL Entry Drafts along with a third-round selection in 2017.
Benesch, 28, leaves the Swarm ranked first in team history in goals (141), second in both points (334) and power play goals (31), and fourth in assists (193). In 2013, Benesch led the Swarm with 34 goals, and finished the season with 84 points in 16 contests. Benesch’s tenure in Minnesota was highlighted in 2011, when the Kitchener, Ontario native led the NLL in scoring with 95 points (46g, 49a) and was selected to the NLL All-Pro First Team. The Swarm acquired the 5-foot-9, 180-pound forward in a trade with Edmonton prior to the 2010 season. In four seasons with the Swarm, Benesch appeared in 60 games, and was a two-time NLL All-Star.
“We are thrilled to be able to add Ryan and Andrew,” said Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich. “I still believe that we are going to build this team through the draft, as we hold four of the top 20 picks in 2014, but adding both Ryan and Andrew helps fill two of our biggest areas of need for both now and the future.”
Benesch (5’9”, 180 lbs., 1/30/85), who was named NLL Rookie of the Year as a member of the Toronto Rock in 2007, has ranked in the top 10 in goal scoring in each of the last three NLL seasons, including a league-leading 46 goals and 95 points in 2011.
“Ryan is a top-five scorer in the league who, at 28 years old, is entering the prime of his career,” Dietrich said. “He is one of the best left-handed offensive players in the game.”
The forward from Kitchener, Ontario has amassed 486 points (210+276) and 467 loose balls in 103 regular-season games during the course of seven NLL seasons with Minnesota, Edmonton and Toronto. In seven playoff appearances, Benesch has added 35 points (15+20) and 37 loose balls.
Watt (6’1”, 205 lbs., 1/9/84), another Kitchener native, has spent his entire five-year NLL career with Minnesota after the Swarm chose him eighth overall in the 2008 NLL Entry Draft.
“Andrew is a very good defensive transition player who will fit into our up-tempo defense and, at 28, also fits into our long term plans,” Dietrich said.
Watt has totaled 67 points (41+30) and 312 loose balls in 68 regular-season games, scoring a career-best 16 goals in 2011 before recording nine points (6+3) in each of the last two seasons. His 13 shorthanded goals are a Swarm franchise record.
Watt, 29, posted nine points (6g, 3a) and collected 40 loose balls in 12 games this past season. Minnesota acquired the Kitchener, Ontario native in the first-round (No. 8 overall) of the 2008 NLL Entry Draft. Watt leaves the Swarm ranked first in franchise history in shorthanded goals (13) and tied for first in forced turnovers (42). In 2011, the Robert Morris University graduate appeared in his first All-Star Game and recorded a career-high 21 points (16g, 5a) along with 70 loose balls in 13 contests. In five seasons with Minnesota, Watt appeared in 68 games and notched 67 points (21g, 46a) and 312 loose balls.
“We would like to thank Ryan and Andrew for their contributions to the Swarm organization over the years,” said Swarm owner and president John Arlotta. “Ryan was a critical part of our franchise the last four years, and not only brought scoring to the team, but he was also a great leader off the floor. Andrew was our first draft pick when we purchased the team in 2008, and he’s become one of the league’s top transition players since then. We’re happy to see both Ryan and Andrew now get the opportunity to play closer to home in front their family and friends in the Buffalo area.”
Swarm head coach and associate general manager Joe Sullivan added, “Both Ryan and Andrew embodied everything that the Minnesota Swarm was looking for both on and off the floor during their tenures with the team. They were ambassadors for our organization and carried themselves as professionals. Buffalo has gained two great people as well as two great lacrosse players.”