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DraftStories/Op-Ed

2019 NLL Draft: Team Needs

WEST

Calgary

The defending champs have back to back picks in the first round (7th & 8th) but don’t expect GM Mike Board to sit back and waste the opportunity to build on the success of last season. One of Calgary’s underrated strengths has been its transition game over the past couple of seasons and Board loves to bring in big, mobile defenders. However, the Roughnecks really like having brothers on their roster, so is it possible we could see Board add Marshall King to join their brother, Jesse?

 

Colorado

The Mammoth haven’t had a first rounder since they selected Zach Herreweyers in 2016 and seeing them select another lefty O guy this year, would be no shock. Over the past few years, Colorado has lost Grant, Greer, Benesch and most recently Vitarelli so there’s been a slow rotation of players trying to fill the voids. Breakout years in 2019 for McLaughlin, Lee and Killen has given them multiple young weapons out the front door but if they can add another left hander it would help add balance.

 

San Diego

Unfortunately, San Diego will have to wait until midway into the second round before they get to make a selection; back to back picks at 25 & 26. As well as the Seals did in their inaugural season, they still need help on both sides of the ball so Merrill will be very keen to add two quality players with their first picks. Maybe most important though, will be to find a backup goalie to play behind Scigliano. They lost Carlson to free agency and Hartley in the expansion draft so if Nate Faccin, the Coquitlam Jr Adanacs goalie is still available it would be a perfect young talent to groom behind Frankie.

 

Saskatchewan

Unbelievably, Derek Keenan has amassed three more first rounds picks and all eyes will be on what the Rush do with all those selections. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a team out there trying hard to move up in the draft for the fourth overall pick but if the Rush hold on to it, Brooklin LC’s Ryan MacSpayden might be just what Keenan is looking for. There aren’t too many holes in the Rush roster so they don’t have one specific need but this is a team that’s always adding depth with quality players they can groom over a few years. If they keep all three picks, look for them to add a little of everything.

 

Vancouver

The Warriors need all the help they can get, however they don’t hold a single pick until the fourth round. Making matters worse, GM Dan Richardson doesn’t have any real tradable assets in order to move up the draft board. Unless there is some sort of magic wand inside Richardson’s bag of tricks, it could be a very long and quiet night at the Warriors’ table.

 

EAST

Buffalo

The reigning East division champions will be looking to hit the ground running next year, in hopes of avenging the heartbreak of 2019. Buffalo lost Evans and Durston in the expansion draft so reloading the offence will be a definite focus for GM Steve Dietrich. If players like Keegan Bell, Matt Van Galen, or Tanner Thomson are available, they would be great fits in Banditland, but being surrounded by Swarm picks, Dietrich will have to be aware of what he may leave on the board for Arlotta at 13.

 

Georgia

There was a time when people criticized John Arlotta for the moves he made during his time in Minnesota but in the end, he built one of the strongest young cores in the entire NLL. Now, his focus is on building around that core with quality young men and athletes. Unfortunately, their biggest need is, like many other teams, a lefty forward. It’s a long shot, but they may be lucky enough to find one at eleventh overall but unlikely, so Arlotta may have to get creative with his two first round selections.

 

Halifax

The Thunderbirds lost two solid defenders in the expansion draft (Brown and Manley) so shoring up the back end should be a priority; and Tyson Bomberry should still be there. Bomberry has won three Minto Cups, a Founders, been a long time constant with the Iroquois Nationals and already played two seasons in the MSL with the Chiefs- he’s a great fit for a defense that plays a physical and aggressive game. Having a late first round pick as well as the #5, Halifax will have two quality rookies breaking into the NLL next year.

 

New England

Acquiring the 3rd overall pick for Crowley gives GM Rich Lisk the opportunity to fill the hole left by the Big Cat’s departure.  However, if Gibson and Kew are off the board, snatching up the All-World, Minto Cup winning defensive beast Rylan Reese would go a long way in helping strengthen a D unit that gave up the third most goals in 2019. The Black Wolves have four picks in the first two rounds so expect List to be quite busy.

 

New York

With the top pick in this year’s draft, the Riptide have the luxury of picking from every player in the draft so they’ll probably have a pretty good idea who they’ll take. Lefty Andrew Kew from the Oakville Rock and Tampa University, is the heavy favourite to become the newest member of the Riptide and it’ll be no surprise if he continues his impressive rise to stardom. Having built a solid foundation in the expansion draft, GM Regy Thorpe and his staff will be aggressive in who they take in order to fill the holes and be competitive out of the gate. Right handed forwards and D guys will be a focus after the Riptide kick off the draft.

 

Philadelphia

The Wings traded their first round selection for Kevin Crowley, so they won’t step up to the podium until the third pick in the second round. Paul Day has already added some familiar faces in Lloyd and Vitarelli but he still needs a lot of help out the back door and between the pipes. A heavy dose of fast, physical defenders should be high on Philadelphia’s priority list and you can bet Day will have done his homework.

 

Rochester

Knighthawks 2.0 will begin their new life with the second overall pick and GM Dan Carey will not waste the opportunity. If by some chance Andrew Kew is still on the board, Rochester will jump at the chance. In the expansion draft, Carey selected a wide variety of players and has already given himself a great core of veterans to work in this year’s rookie class. In the rough and tumble East, having big mobile defensemen will be essential as will serviceable two-way defenders. Holden Garlent and Rylan Reese would be excellent fits in Rochester but so would rugged righty forward Tyson Gibson.

 

Toronto

The Rock have the 15th pick in the first round so Jamie Dawick will have to sit patiently and wait to make his selection. Some part of me thinks Toronto may try to trade up in the first round to get their guy but if there aren’t any takers, adding a big, strong defender to accompany the acquisition of free agent, David Brock may be a focal point. However, one big area of concern may be finding a lefty O guy to play alongside Adam Jones and push Dan Craig and Johnny Powless.

 

 

 

 

 

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