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Stamper’s Top 50: The Leading Prospects for the 2019 NLL Draft

The 2019 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft is less than two weeks away. When the league’s 13 teams gather at XFinity Live! in Philadelphia for the annual talent dispersal exercise, they will select 89 prospects over six rounds to add to their rosters.

 

Below are the top 50 players available for them to select from. As usual, I offer my annual reminder that this list is not a prediction of the order in which the players will be selected but a ranking of the prospects in terms of how they project to work out in the long term as NLL players. When they get drafted depends on a combination of team need, fit, familiarity and geography.

 

For those reasons, this list will differ from the order of ago and the mock of the first two rounds I’ll be sharing next week.

 

This year’s draft isn’t replete with elite prospects but has a pool of solid roster depth candidates. In fact, after the first half dozen, there is a huge group of players—particularly defenders—whose appeal could vary broadly depending on what teams need and how they assess the players’ potential.

 

1. Ryland Rees

RT, Burnaby Lakers & Stony Brook

Rees is a special athlete with a chance to be a player around whom you can build the core of your franchise. Just look at the difference Graeme Hossack makes and how teams have to prepare when they play against him. I don’t see Rees as being at the level of Hossack as a shutdown defender, but few players are, given that Hossack is the best defender to come into the NLL since Kyle Rubisch. Rees is, however, a very good defender with size, strength, speed and the stick skills to contribute in transition.

 

2. Andrew Kew

LF, Oakville Rock & Tampa

Back to back seasons leading the Oakville Rock in scoring have put Kew 26th in Major Series Lacrosse scoring over the last five years even though he’s only played two seasons in the league. That gives you an idea of how quickly he’s adjusted to playing at the highest levels of the game. The big lefty’s excellent outside shot and floor vision should allow him to make the same kind of immediate impact in the NLL.

 

3. Tyson Gibson

RF, Victoria Shamrocks & Robert Morris

Gibson has been a key contributor to the Shamrocks run to a Mann Cup berth this summer, more than making up for any concerns after he was limited to six games and just 12 points in his sophomore regular season in the WLA. Gibson is a horse with an effective inside game and unselfish approach that will make him a popular teammate.

 

4. Holden Garlent

LT, Brooklin LC & Canisius

The most important elements to Garlent’s effectiveness are his positioning, anticipation and blazing speed. He doesn’t pound opponents but is solid defensively and can be deadly in transition.

 

5. Warren Jeffrey

RD, Brampton Excelsiors & Vermont

An interesting contrast to Garlent, Jeffrey is much more physical and focused on the defensive end of the floor. While he’s not a big scoring threat, Jeffrey was good in his rookie MSL season this summer at making the critical first pass out of the defensive zone. He also showed admirable discipline while playing his usual tough defense.

 

6. Clarke Petterson

RF, Brampton Excelsiors & Cornell

Good hands, good speed and strong floor vision make Petterson a good candidate to step into the NLL and contribute immediately as a complementary player who doesn’t need the ball in his stick all the time to help his teammates find scoring opportunities.

 

7. Liam Leclair

LD, Six Nations Arrows & Windsor

LeClair has risen to the top of a group of about 10 defense/transition players I considered after the clear top trio of Rees, Garlent and Jeffrey. He was strong in junior, but it was his play when he got a chance to step in with the MSL Six Nations Chiefs late in the regular season and into the playoffs that really cemented his high-level status. LeClair, like his former second-round draft pick brother Kellen, also played defense in university football at Windsor. Also like his brother, Liam blends size with agility and lacrosse IQ to be a rugged defender on the lacrosse floor while not taking unnecessary penalties.

 

8. Trevor Smyth

LD, Oakville Rock & RIT

Smyth doesn’t seem to garner much attention, but I think he is one of the most consistently dependable defenders in the draft. He shows a knack for sound decision-making in the defensive zone both in one-on-one and help coverage, as well as in transition, where he quietly put up pretty good numbers for the Rock. He spent a full season in Sr B before entering MSL and may need a year or so in the NLL to really establish himself as a reliable regular, but Smyth’s steady improvement reflects coachability and adaptability, good traits for a player trying to prove himself in the pro game.

 

9. Ryan McSpadyen

LT, Brooklin LC & Mercy

As a late entrant to college, McSpadyen already has four years of experience in senior lacrosse. He had his lowest-scoring MSL season this summer, with just 4 goals and 3 assists, but looked more like his usual speedy and confident self as the season progressed. He is probably more ready to step in and contribute for an established contender than most defenders in the draft. McSpadyen is slight but compensates for it with lacrosse IQ and exceptionally quick feet.

 

10. Brent Noseworthy

LD, Brooklin LC & Michigan

The polar opposite to McSpadyen’s experience: while McSpadyen has played 76 games of senior lacrosse, Noseworthy has played played fewer than that as a lacrosse runner, period. He was an outstanding goalie growing up and didn’t switch to playing out until junior. That makes him a bit of a projection, but Noseworthy is hard working, craves coaching and has the physical tools to be an imposing D/transition player. He probably won’t be ready to play big minutes in the pros this year. A team that can be patient and develop him, though, is going to get an absolute gem.

 

11. Kason Tarbell

RD, Six Nations Chiefs & Cornell

A strong, consistent rookie season for the Chiefs elevated Tarbell considerably from the 40thspot in the Top 50 where I had him last year, when it appeared that he would be entering the draft before he was granted a redshirt senior year at Cornell. Tarbell will be joining fellow 2015 Akwesasne Indians Founders Cup champs Adam Bomberry, Seth Oakes and Blaze Riorden in reaching the NLL.

 

12. Justin Robinson

LT, Brooklin Lacrosse Club

Robinson is much on the smaller side, but he is sturdy and uses good footwork to provide reliable defense. He’s also got blazing speed and good hands. Size bias may make him slide a bit in the draft, but Robinson plays bigger than he is and should fit in well at the pro level.

 

13. Aaron Forster

RT, Burnaby Lakers & NJIT

Forster is a conundrum. He established himself as a terrific prospect with the Toronto Beaches during an impressive junior career in which he scored plenty of points and showed growing ability in the defensive zone. Then he chose to play a summer of Sr B in his hometown of Ottawa in 2018. That would have been fine had he had the chance to follow it up with a strong 2019 season in Sr A to prove his game translates to the highest levels, but he broke his thumb in his first game with Burnaby and never returned to the lineup. Had he played this summer, and played the way I think he can, he could be several spots higher on this list. As it is, his position is based more on potential than production, which is the case to an extent with most prospects; how heavily evaluators have to lean on the former rather than the latter, though, could lead to wide fluctuations in where teams have him rated.

 

14. Zach Manns

LF, Victoria Shamrocks Jr A & Drexel

Manns entered the draft early, renouncing his eligibility at Drexel, fairly late in the process. He’s appealing as a lefty forward who can shoot well and shows a good feel for the game. How do you assess a player who had seasons of 18 and 20 points before breaking out for 105 this year? One thing to do is to look at which teams he’s scoring against; in other words, does a player load up on points against the bottom teams and not producing against the top ones. Well, Manns had some very quiet games this summer against Coquitlam, the gold standard in defensive play in the BCJALL. He looked good, though, in the playoffs and Minto Cup. That bodes well for his chance of performing well against men. Most knowledgeable lacrosse people I’ve spoken too think he may not be ready to play in the NLL, but his long-term potential is tempting.

 

15. Jake Fox

RF, Brooklin LC & Johns Hopkins

Another case of contrasting careers for players back to back in the Top 50. Whereas Manns is a late bloomer who may need more time to develop before he’s ready for the pros, Fox has a higher floor and probably a lower ceiling. Fox has already played 42 senior games as a callup then a rookie with the Peterborough Lakers then this summer after getting traded to Brooklin. He is a physical forward who won’t hesitate to go inside and is committed to working to provide space for his teammates. Fox has decent hands and showed good leadership as the Jr A Lakers captain in his final year of junior. He doesn’t have the quickest feet but plays with passion and is dedicated to being the best player he can.

 

16. Tyson Bomberry

RD, Six Nations Chiefs & Syracuse

Opinions will vary broadly on Bomberry. There has been talk that New York was considering taking him with the first overall pick. His field lacrosse resume is impressive, including a series of YouTube-popular big slide hits that have made him a folk hero to fans of physical lacrosse. He didn’t play much this summer, getting into just one game in the regular season then seven in the playoffs with the Chiefs. His game remained robust, but he showed an alarming propensity for getting beaten underneath by opposing forwards, sometimes multiple times in a single game. That will drive coaches crazy. On the plus side, Bomberry is strong and aggressive.

 

17. Travis Longboat

RF, Six Nations Arrows Jr A

Longboat is silky smooth, both with his running and his stick. He’s a natural scorer with excellent hands and floor vision. He led the Arrows in scoring this summer with 22 goals and 35 assists for 57 points. If your response to that is that Tehoka Nanticoke would have led the team had he played as many games as Longboat, consider this: both players scored exactly 3 points per game (Nanticoke 36 in 12, Longboat 57 in 19). Longboat has also performed well playing against men, putting up a 20/32/52 line in 14 Arena Lacrosse League games with the Six Nations Snipers in 2018 and another 16 points (8g, 8a) in just three games this past winter.

 

18. Devyn Mayea

LD, Burlington Chiefs

Mayea has the size and instincts of a classic stay-at-home defender, playing a solid physical game without going overboard and taking undisciplined penalties. He can get up the floor, though, chipping in with 8 goals and 13 assists this season. He plays a game reminiscent of Steven Lee, his former Chiefs teammate who entered the NLL as an unheralded 72ndoverall pick but had a strong rookie season in Colorado and played well in Oakville this summer. He may not go in the first round, but don’t expect Mayea to linger into the latter regions of the draft like Lee did.

 

19. Sean Darroch

RD, Brooklin LC & Lindenwood

Darroch is a burly defender who plays with an edge. He has 49 games of senior experience with Brooklin and has settled in as a solid depth guy with good enough hands and speed to help with clearing the ball, although he’s generally not a scoring threat. Will probably take a bit of time to develop into an NLL regular but should become the kind of defender you can just roll out every night and not have to worry about.

 

20. Keegan Bell

RF, Langley Thunder & Tusculum

Bell has size, speed and grit, but his greatest asset is probably a deadly outside shot. He didn’t have a huge scoring season split between Victoria and Langley, but he shows some versatility that should suit a depth role with an NLL team.

 

21. Matt Van Galen

RF, Oakville Rock & Detroit Mercy

After a standout start to 2018 led the Rock to reclassify Van Galen from Sr B to Sr A, he took the reverse route this summer. He just didn’t seem to find his fit with the Rock this year. Van Galen did score 4 points per game in four games with the Titans after returning to Sr B. He looked like a potential first rounder a year ago but will probably slip into the second now. When he’s on his game, Van Galen has shown the ability to create shots for himself and teammates.

 

22. Brett Craig

LD, Maple Ridge Burrards & Seton Hill

In another short run of defenders, we’ll go with the big, athletic skilled player ahead of the similarly skilled but smaller player. Calgary native Craig is listed at 6’5” and 210 pounds, and he has two full WLA seasons under his belt including 15 games of playoff experience.

 

23. Derek Lloyd

RT, Victoria Shamrocks & Stony Brook

Lloyd is similar to Craig in that he’s from Calgary and has played two full WLA seasons. The big difference is that Lloyd is listed at 5’9” and 195 pounds. He makes up for the lack of size with blazing speed and good decision-making. He is also considered to be a good locker room guy. Lloyd hasn’t missed a Shamrocks’ regular-season game in his two years with the team.

 

24. Dylan Kinnear

LT/F, Langley Thunder

Yet another Calgary transition player, Kinnear played out the front door quite a bit for Langley and actually led the Thunder with 22 goals. He’ll most likely be back in the defensive zone for a pro team.

 

25. Travis Getz

LF, Brooklin Merchants Sr B & Wheeling Jesuit

It’s a rarity to have a pair of brothers in the same draft. Travis and Jordan Getz both wound up at Wheeling Jesuit in the same draft class despite having been born two years apart after Jordan transferred to the school where his younger brother was. They’ve played together at times back in Calgary. Probably the best season to compare them is the summer of 2018 when both were with the Sr B Calgary Mountaineers. Travis played 11 games and put up a line of 30/24/54 (2.7 goals and 4.9 points per game) while Jordan played 7 games and scored 16/16/32 (2.3 goals and 4.8 points per game). This year, Travis posted 17/15/32 in eight games (4.0 ppg) with the Brooklin Merchants and added 8/7/15 in nine games with Brooklin’s MSL club. Jordan’s line was 15/14/29 in seven games (4.1 ppg) with the Mountaineers. The Ontario league has a higher competition level, but the Mountaineers have to face the St. Albert Miners, who had won three straight Presidents Cups. It’s a fine line discerning between the two brothers.

Travis is a bit slighter, but he holds up well against big defenders with quick feet and a high lacrosse IQ. He also appears to be a slightly better shooter with better hands. I’m giving him a one-spot edge over his older brother, which I’m sure will be source of much debate in the Getz family.

 

26. Jordan Getz

LF, Calgary Mountaineers Sr B & Wheeling Jesuit

Jordan let me know a couple of years ago, when I had thought he was entering the draft, that he was going to Wheeling and would be out this year. He helped himself at the Presidents Cup this year when he was picked up by the Miners and wound up seventh in the tournament in scoring with 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points in eight games. For context, the three players immediately above him on the scoring chart were Ryan Benesch, Stephan Leblanc and Miles Thompson. That’s pretty good company and Jordan was legitimately amongst them, showing good floor vision and nice touch both as a shooter and a passer.

 

27. Matt Smith

LD, Peterborough Lakers Jr A

Smith is a rugged and aggressive defender who showed good leadership in helping the Lakers stay competitive while seeming to lose another player or two to injury every game they played. Smith also has pretty good hands, having scored 49 points in 2018 and 123 total in three seasons with the Jr C Lakers. He isn’t flashy and probably isn’t ready to play regularly in the NLL but has shown the potential to be a solid depth defender with the ability to push the ball out of his own end.

 

28. Liam Osborne

RF, Brooklin Merchants Sr B & Belmont Abbey

Some folks will look at Osborne and just see a short player. That is a mistake. For one thing, he is a powerhouse, packing his frame with muscle that allows him to battle physically with much larger defenders. He’s also highly skilled. Osborne, like Smith above, played three years of Jr C lacrosse, scoring 91 points as a 19-year-old then putting up 56 goals and 104 points in just 14 games as a 20-year old. In his final year of Jr, playing with the Jr B Clarington Green Gaels, the Bowmanville native added 61 points in the regular season and another 50 in the playoffs. His scoring pace barely slowed as he moved to Sr B, putting up 84 points in 22 games over the last two summers. He’s also played a handful of Sr A games with Brooklin and has fit in just fine, including putting up a goal and 2 assists in his lone MSL game this summer, in which last-place Brooklin pushed Mann Cup-bound Peterborough to overtime.

 

29. Landon Kells

G, Peterborough Lakers Jr A

Who is the top goalie in this draft is a toss-up. I have had a chance to see Kells play in person many times, which may be what tips the scales slightly in his favour for me. Kells was sensational in leading the Elora Mohawks to the Founders Cup championship in 2018 and put in yeoman’s service behind a young and injury-ravaged defensive corps with the Jr A Lakers this summer. He faced a ton of rubber and proved to be talented and resilient. Behind a much stronger group at the World Junior Lacrosse Championship in Mississauga this August, he was named the top goalie after shining in relief in Canada’s comeback win in over Iroquois in the gold medal game. He moves well, has a good sense of angles and seems to be able to put goals allowed behind him, as any goalie must do to be successful.

 

30. Cameron Dunkerley

G, Victoria Shamrocks Jr A

Dunkerley is a bit smaller than Kells, but he showed he can stand tall between the pipes in helping the Shamrocks reach the Minto Cup finals, where he helped his team at least stay within hailing distance of the powerful Orangeville Northmen during the Ontario club’s three-game sweep. Having come to Vancouver Island from Orangeville, Dunkerley surely would have loved to lead his new club to victory over his former one, but his performance was impressive even in a losing cause.

 

31. Cory Highfield

LF/T, Oakville Rock & UMass-Lowell

Highfield entered MSL with high expectations after a strong Minto Cup performance in his final year of junior, for which he moved up from Jr B Halton Hills and scored 52 regular season and 80 playoff points as the Six Nations Arrows won the Minto. It’s up for debate whether forward or transition is Highfield’s best position. He played with the offense this summer for the Rock and generally wasn’t productive. He did, though, have a few games where he flashed tantalizing potential. His best game was probably the final game of the regular season, in which he had 3 goals and an assist while looking dangerous throughout as Oakville built a 10-7 then gave up the last four goals in an 11-10 loss at Peterborough. He is probably better suited to using his athleticism to play defense and push the ball in transition, but with lefty forwards always in demand and being a big body, there are teams that will consider using him up front.

 

32. Matt Marinier

LD, Burlington Chiefs Jr A

Marinier was a big-bodied defender (listed at 6’6”, 225 pounds) for a Chiefs team that allowed the third-fewest goals in the Ontario Jr A league this summer and lost a tight league championship series to the eventual Minto Cup champion Northmen.

 

33. Marshall King

RF, Victoria Shamrocks & Drexel

King put up big numbers as a Jr Shamrock, averaging 6.5 points per game in his final season of 2018. Statistics from the BCJALL have to be taken with a grain of salt, though, because while there is plenty of talent in the league there are only a few competitive teams compared to the junior loop in Ontario with its much larger population base to draw from. Playing against the cream of the BCJALL crop—the eventual Minto Cup champion Coquitlam Adanacs—in the playoffs last summer, King scored just 6 points in three games. King scored 10/20/30 in 12 games as a WLA rookie this summer. He doesn’t appear to relish the physical nature of the game but did improve through the course of the season. The Mann Cup will give evaluators a chance to see how he fares against an elite defense before finalizing their draft grades for him.

 

34. Dylan Chand

RD, Maple Ridge Burrards & Quinnipiac

Plays with an edge, making life uncomfortable for opposing forwards. Chand also shows a sense of how to play a team’s system while understanding what he is able to do so he doesn’t get overextended. Sees the floor well and understands the game.

 

35. John Wagner

LT, Brooklin Lacrosse Club & Marquette

Hasn’t played much box lacrosse at the junior level and up, which is a big red flag. Wagner did get into four games with Brooklin this summer, which gave him a chance to get a feel for the indoor game again and to show how he fits in. The good news was that he used his athleticism effectively to play a sound defensive game while handling the ball efficiently when the opportunity arose. He will need some time to adjust to the pro game but does project as a solid depth transition player.

 

36. Nate Faccin

G, Coquitlam Adanacs Jr A

Faccin ran with his opportunity to be the starter for the Adanacs with the graduation of Christian Del Bianco. That is one tough act to follow, but Faccin put up solid numbers and kept Coquitlam well ahead of the pack in goals allowed.

 

37. Tanner Thomson

RF, Brampton Excelsiors & Marquette

Thomson was highly touted coming out of junior. He scored just 18 points in 13 games as an MSL rookie in 2018 and had just 8 points in five games with Oakville this summer before the Rock traded him to Brampton. Things picked up a bit with 6 goals in eight games for the Excelsiors, but Thomson scored that handful of goals while taking a ton of shots and never really seemed to find a groove with rookie standouts Jeff Teat and Clarke Petterson. With an NLL team, he’ll need to learn to be more deferential to veterans, pick his shooting spots more discriminatingly and commit to being a depth player making contributions off-ball if he wants to find regular playing time.

 

38. Kyle Dawson

LF, Nanaimo Timbermen Jr A

Works well in a system and made a reasonably successful move from Wallaceburg Jr B to Nanaimo Jr A, following up his 53-goal tour de force in 2018 with a solid 25-goal, 22-assist performance for Nanaimo this summer before adding another 10 goals in six playoff games. Dawson is a natural leader, prompting Canada to name him an alternate captain at the 2018 World Juniors in Saskatoon.

 

39. Tristan Rai

RT/F, Burnaby Lakers & Lehigh

Rai, who played for Australia at the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships and will represent the nation again at the 2019 WILC in Langley, is making the switch from forward to transition with the Lakers. He has talent and keen floor awareness that makes him dangerous at picking off passes across the defensive zone. He still has a ways to go overall as a defender and will need to tidy up his coverage to have a shot at the pro league. Like most players beyond the upper ranges of this list, he probably isn’t ready to play in the NLL yet but could be a diamond in the rough with some time to develop.

 

40. Brendan Szabo

LT, Delta Islanders Jr A

Szabo has blazing speed as well as good instincts and hands, which combine to make him a threat to pick off passes or snag loose balls and take off to score in transition. He is a little undersized at 5’11” and 175 pounds but uses leverage and footwork to maintain defensive integrity.

 

41. Cam Wengreniuk

LF, Nanaimo Timbermen & Grand Canyon

Wengreniuk isn’t a big scorer but he is a smart and creative player who embraces his role as a depth forward to the benefit of his teammates. He’s got decent size at 6’1”, 200 pounds. The Edmonton native has the advantage of already playing a supporting role rather than needing to adjust to it after being a star coming up through junior and the WLA.

 

42. Tyler Brown

LF, St. Catharines Athletics Jr A

Brown is a lacrosse rat, playing wherever he gets the chance. His development was probably delayed by not getting to play Jr A until this year, when he produced 15 goals and 27 points in 11 games for a competitive Athletics team. Brown also finished second on the ALL’s Six Nations Snipers with 41 points in 11 games in the winter season. He has shown leadership by putting together the Young Guns team for tournament play, including the LASNAI in Onondaga at which the team has finished in the top eight each of the last two years. Brown has good hands and a creative streak. He’ll need to work hard to solidify his strength and fitness to succeed at the next level.

 

43. Clay Scanlan

LF, Six Nations Arrows Jr A

Scanlan is wildly skilled, able to make the type of plays that drop jaws around the rink. He is also undersized and still looking to develop the kind of consistency that will allow him to move up the lacrosse ladder. He was sixth on the Arrows with 35 points, including just 7 goals, in 19 games this summer.

 

44. Gord Phillips

RD, Nanaimo Timbermen & Monmouth

Phillips has two full seasons of WLA experience with the Timbermen, providing serviceable defense and 27 points in transition over the two campaigns.

 

45. Keenan Cook

RD, Brooklin Lacrosse Club & Siena

Showed flashes in his two games this summer and eight last year with BLC of the potential to be a steady contributor with his athleticism and decent stick skills. Needs a lot more time on the floor to prove he is capable of playing consistently at the higher levels.

 

46. John Hofseth

RF, Coquitlam Adanacs & Seton Hill

Hofseth followed up steady contributions (26, 26 and 20 goals; 57, 64 and 50 points) in three full seasons with the Jr A Adanacs by posting 18 goals and 14 assists in 13 games with the senior club as a WLA rookie this year.

 

47. Braylon Lumb

RF, Nanaimo Timbermen

Lumb had a 104-point season in 2018 to wrap up his Jr A career. That looks very impressive, but 74 of those points came against the bottom four teams in the league while just 30 came against the playoff clubs. That puts the onus on him to produce in the WLA and he responded with 25 points in 15 games with Nanaimo as a rookie this summer.

 

48. Haiden Dickson

RF, Coquitlam Adanacs Jr A

Dickson scored 50 goals this summer, 45 of them for the Delta Islanders before heading to Coquitlam as a deadline acquisition. The big righty is a consistent goal producer, notching 11 hat tricks (including 5-goal and 6-goal games) during the regular season and adding another with Coquitlam in both the playoffs and the Minto Cup. He didn’t just rack up goals against the bottom-tier teams but contributed against the leading contenders as well.

 

49. Colin Berglof

LF, Saskatchewan SWAT Jr A

Berglof is a big lefty (6’4”, 225 pounds) who will go to work in the dirty areas and has the hands to finish, scoring 22, 20 and 25 goals the last three seasons with the SWAT.

 

50. Ryan Jones

LF, Langley Thunder Jr A

Finished the season with his fourth junior team in three years by totaling 50 points between Delta and Langley. Had 72 goals and 163 assists for 235 points in 65 Jr A games.