The 2019 Expansion Draft wasn’t going to sneak up on Rich Lisk. The New England Black Wolves General Manager has been dedicating quite a bit of time to what possibilities were lying ahead.
“I actually started this process during our (regular season),” Lisk said. “We talked about it a lot. Every Monday night, I’d have calls with our coaches, and part of our coaches call was to talk about expansion, every single week throughout the year because it is something you need to prepare for.”
Though open and honest, Lisk didn’t specify how many regular seasons he was talking about. The New England GM proved in the 2018 Expansion Draft that the groundwork had been in place several years ahead of time when the Philadelphia Wings and San Diego Seals made their picks last July.
The Black Wolves lost defenseman Anthony Joaquim in the sixth round and Matt Rambo in the seventh – both to Philadelphia. Joaquim was a victim of numbers, and Rambo was a little more circumstantial.
“Last year I lost a good young defenseman who I took eighth in the (2017 entry draft),” Lisk said. “I didn’t want to lose Anthony, but we did. Then I lost somebody who was on my roster but never played in the NLL, but lived (near) Philadelphia when I took Matt Rambo.”
Lisk spent a fifth-round pick in 2017 on Rambo, who was an uncertainly to play in New England. But his value would be recognized during the 2018 Expansion Draft and it benefited both teams.
“I didn’t know if he’d ever play indoor, but my strategy was, if he played: awesome. He’s a great player, would love to have him,” Lisk said. “He could not play that year, so he went on my holdout list. Part of my thinking of when we drafted him, was he could be a chip for us. (The Wings) took Matt Rambo and he performed really well. I think it was a win-win for both of us. I kept an NLL player that we knew was playing in the league and they took a chance on a local kid who turned out really well for them.”
This year, New England has a balanced protected list with five forwards, five defensemen and goaltender Doug Jamieson included on it.
“We feel we have one of the best young goalies in the league,” Lisk said. “He paid his dues as a backup and last year he got a chance to run with it. And then we just tried to keep it as even as possible with lefty forwards and righty forwards.”
In dealing with the semantics of building and maintain a roster, Lisk said it’s not easy separating on field production with the character and livelihood of the players.
“You get attached to guys,” Lisk said. “They’re your players but you get friendly with them and you get to know their families. You get to know what makes them tick. And you’re building a team and expansion happens, which is great and necessary for the league. But you have to part ways with some of the guys. And it’s hard. It’s really, really hard.”
Broadcast live on NLL social channels, the Expansion Draft Selection Show will be held at 12pm ET on July 9th.