IL Indoor projects first two rounds of #NLLDraft at TRAC tonight at 7pm ET
The wait is finally over. The 2014 NLL Draft takes place tonight at Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, Ontario. Watch live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network (YouTube.com/TLN) starting at 7 p.m. ET and use #NLLDraft to join the conversation on Twitter.
But which players will go where? Check out Stephen Stamp’s Mock Draft 2.0 on IL Indoor below to see who might hear their names called on what will be a night to remember.
“It’s draft day in the National Lacrosse League,” Stamp writes. “Time to unveil IL Indoor’s final mock draft for the 2014 talent distribution exercise. There’s no slam dunk player who can come into the league and immediately be considered one of the better players in the NLL like Mark Matthews did two years ago. There are, though, a handful of players who appear ready to claim spots on NLL rosters and begin to help their new teams.
“If you read Mock Draft 1.0 you’ll be pretty familiar with the way this mock is going to play out. As much as it would be nice to see some changes just for interests sake, I don’t think things are going to be much different than I saw them playing out in the first go-round. The top candidates are still the righty forwards, with some lefties and a couple of defenders mixed in as we move towards the latter half of the first round. The main difference you’ll see between this and my first mock draft is that this one goes through two rounds.”
1) Edmonton Rush: Ben McIntosh, RF, Drexel University
Rush GM and Head Coach Derek Keenan has all but come out and said that Edmonton will be taking the 6’2”, 200-plus pounder. Keenan likes the blend of size and skill that McIntosh brings to the floor. McIntosh was outstanding in the WLA playoffs, scoring 27 goals in 11 games as the Burrards reached the league finals for the first time in ages. He will be expected to bang around and create space for his Rush teammates in the offensive end but also to take his opportunities to shoot when they’re there. Should be ready to step right into the NLL and contribute.
2) Vancouver Stealth: Jeremy Noble, RF, University of Denver
Noble is an excellent leader with great talent both as a scorer and setting up his teammates. The main reason he won’t go first overall is because Edmonton wants a bigger player to fill the opening they see on their team. There are plenty of teams that would be thrilled to add Noble to their lineup, though. In fact, don’t be surprised if the Stealth trade this pick to add more selections high in the draft and address more needs on their roster. There is interest; it’s just a matter of whether a team will be willing to pay the price that Vancouver sets on the pick. If no one is, the Stealth will certainly be happy to add the dynamic Noble.
3) Minnesota Swarm: Miles Thompson, RF, University at Albany
Quite a consolation prize for Minnesota, getting the third of the three high-calibre righty forwards in this draft. Thompson is exceptionally skilled and creative. He would fit in nicely with the talented young group of players that Minnesota has accumulated over the last few years. Thompson was sensational with University of Albany, sharing the Tewaaraton Award with his brother Lyle, and at the world field lacrosse championships for the Iroquois Nationals. Miles has scored consistently and often spectacularly in three years of Sr B lacrosse after a standout Jr A career.
4) Colorado Mammoth: Eli McLaughlin, LF, Coquitlam Jr Adanacs
If Colorado isn’t able to move up and get Noble (who lives in Denver after attending university there and playing for MLL’s Denver Outlaws), they may also consider Peterborough Lakers defender Robert Hope. He would fit their need for another reliable defensive player and could help them immediately. In the end, though, I think the Mammoth will opt for the scoring that McLaughlin can bring them. He had a chance to show his stuff against high-level competition in the BCJALL playoffs and Minto Cup and didn’t disappoint.
5) Minnesota Swarm: Robert Hope, LD, Pfeiffer University
The Swarm will be thrilled if Hope falls to them in this spot. He went into the NLL Combine as the top-rated defender available in the draft and only reinforced that perception with a tour-de-force performance. He’s excellent on loose balls, reliable defensively and does a nice job of pushing the ball up the floor and making good decisions. As an attack player at Pfeiffer, he also has decent hands as he showed in scoring a breakaway goal at the Combine. Whoever does draft Hope, he showed this summer with the Lakers that he is ready to play at the NLL level against the best offensive players in the world.
6) Calgary Roughnecks: Mark Cockerton, LF, University of Virginia
Cockerton has excellent hands. He can score from outside or go inside and maneuver through defenders. He’s not the biggest player, but he isn’t afraid to venture into the dirty areas. Cockerton could go even higher than this, but may be hurt by not having played much box lacrosse over the past two seasons. Calgary has enough offensive talent that they won’t need him to step in and play a big role, which is probably the perfect environment for him to gradually develop his NLL game without the pressure to carry the load.
7) Edmonton Rush: Shane MacDonald, LF, Brampton Jr Excelsiors
The Rush will have already added forward Ben McIntosh with the first overall pick, so you might think they’d look to the defensive end. But Edmonton really just doesn’t have any room in the back end with the depth they have on their roster. That makes it likely they’ll just take the best player available and at this point that is probably MacDonald. He showed that he is a gifted offensive player at the Combine. If he can stay healthy he has a chance to fight for a spot as a depth player for Edmonton.
8) Calgary Roughnecks: Sheldon Burns, LD, Dowling College
The Roughnecks led the league in scoring for the second year in a row in 2014, but they had an off season in their own end. Burns could help them on D. He is a steady defender with the athleticism to pressure O players out high and the footwork and floor awareness to be effective inside.
9) Rochester Knighthawks: Josh Johnson, LF, Six Nations Arrows
The Knighthawks don’t really need help anywhere given the stacked roster that has won the last three Champion’s Cups. Therefore, they’ll likely take a player that has a chance to grow into a role with the team. Johnson is excellent in traffic, able both to receive passes and get his shot off. He’s smallish but plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He was a critical member of the Arrows’ Minto Cup success.
10) Minnesota Swarm: Alexis Buque, G, New Westminster Salmonbellies
With their third pick, the Swarm can shore up a position at which they still have some questions. Newly-acquired Brodie MacDonald is almost sure to be given a chance as the starter, but he’s never filled that role in the NLL. Zach Higgins had an up-and-down year in 2014 with Minnesota, so taking Buque here makes some sense. Several teams will probably be disappointed when Buque disappears from the draft board.
11) Vancouver Stealth: Haodais Maracle, LF, Six Nations Arrows
Having addressed the right side with Noble at the two spot, the Stealth can add some depth and spark to their left side by taking Maracle, a very late entry to the draft this year. He was a complementary player with the Arrows and a very good one. Maracle is a good shooter who can also distribute the ball and has good floor vision. He won two Founders Cups with the Six Nations Rebels and this year’s Minto Cup with the Arrows.
12) Buffalo Bandits: Matthew Bennett, LT, Brampton Jr Excelsiors
The Bandits at some point will need to bring in some lefty forwards, with John Tavares and Shawn Williams closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. But with my draft having five lefties going off the board in the last seven picks, Buffalo may instead look to add a young athletic player to their transition game. Bennett is probably the top transition player available. He has size, strength and speed. He’s also got some stick skills that he showed off when he played in the semi-pro league, scoring 7 goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 6 games as a 19-year-old.
13) Colorado Mammoth: Matt Crough, RF, Dowling College
While they do need to add some defenders at some point, Crough may just be too good for the Mammoth to pass up at this point. He’s got great hands and feet and is an excellent complementary player. He’s got experience playing with Colorado’s John Grant Jr. and Adam Jones from Peterborough. Crough is a hard-working and talented player with a great attitude who would be happy to play any role Colorado needs him to.
14) Buffalo: Ty Thompson, LF, Kahnawake Mohawks and Albany
Two picks later and the Bandits can now take their lefty foward of the future. Thompson had an outstanding career with the Albany Great Danes and has international experience as a member of the Iroquois Nationals. He’s put up 64 points in 19 games the last two summers with the Mohawks. He is extremely talented and could turn out to be a steal for the Bandits at this point in the draft.
15) New England: Dan Keane, RF, Brampton Jr Excelsiors
With New England’s first ever draft pick in their new home, the Black Wolves can add a player whom many would have expected to go higher in the draft. Keane has very good hands and isn’t afraid to go inside, where he notched a couple of dandy goals in the Combine. With Tracey Kelusky retiring, the Black Wolves have a hole to fill on the right side. Keane could battle for a chance to take on a role with the team.
16) Calgary: Quinn Powless, RF, Six Nations Arrows
With Scott Ranger appearing to be nearing the end of his career, the Roughnecks could use another depth option on the right side. Powless is a talented passer and shooter with good lacrosse knowledge and floor vision. Fitness is a concern, but the chance to add his talent may overcome any worries the Roughnecks have.
17) New England: Rodd Squire Jr., RT, Six Nations Chiefs
The Black Wolves could roll the dice on enigmatic but talented transition player Squire. He had a better season in 2013 than 2014, but his blend of size and skill will be tempting for New England as they try to replace the productivity they got from Brodie Merrill. Squire has the strength and lacrosse knowledge to play sound defence and he can help push the ball up the floor with his speed and stick skills.
18) Buffalo: Andrew Smistad, RD, Marquette University
The Bandits like big, tough defenders and that describes Smistad, a bruiser from Alberta who made his mark with the Oakville Rock in Major Series Lacrosse. Unfortunately for him, he missed this summer with the Redmen after suffering an injury in the spring at Marquette. He could benefit from having some time on the practice roster and learning the ropes of the pro game while he gets back up to speed.
19) Edmonton: Adam Shute, G, Coquitlam Adanacs
With the final pick in our mock draft, I see the Rush adding a goalie who can spend some time on their practice roster and learn the ropes of the pro game. Shute is a solid netminding prospect who put up a 7.67 goals against average and .799 save percentage with the Adanacs this summer. It makes sense for the Rush to add the native of Calgary who played his junior lacrosse with the Okotoks Raiders. The Rush have plenty of depth at every other position; they may as well give themselves lots of depth in net as well.