When the Vancouver Warriors face off against the Calgary Roughnecks on Saturday night, the team will have a noticeably new look on the left side of the offence.
For over a year, there has been an expectation that forward Corey Small would be traded to a team in the East Division so he could better tend to family matters back home in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Yet, as last year’s trade deadline came and went and the summer months passed by with no movement of the former 111-point player, it was unclear when or if Small would be shipped to another team.
While conversations had been had between Corey and both former and current management groups about facilitating a trade, their front offices’ messages were the same: we will do our best to get you to an East Division team, but we will need to get comparable talent in return.
“I think what we would do is we would look at what’s in the best interest of the club like we always do,” The franchise’s former GM Doug Locker previously said. “We wouldn’t just move him to move him. If it was something that helped our club and something that he wanted, you would look at that. But, first and foremost, it would have to help us.”
During his overhaul of last year’s 2-16 Vancouver roster, current Warriors GM Dan Richardson structured arguably the most seismic move of this offseason when he was able to send Small to the Buffalo Bandits in exchange for raising-star Mitch Jones as well as future draft picks being swapped.
Jones, who is nearly five years Small’s junior, has been improving exponentially each of the last three seasons. But, can he fill Small’s big shoes and lead the team in scoring or even become the league’s MVP like his counterpart did during his four-season stint in Vancouver? Small certainly thinks so.
“100%,” said Small. “I’ve had a few good years in my career and he’s just starting to have those big point years. He proved it last year and even outscored my points total. I think if he has more years like that, he’ll have no trouble taking over the left side from me.”
“He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of those guys entering the prime of lacrosse career. He’s big, strong, athletic, quick. I feel like he and I have a similar game. He’s an excellent shooter. He probably brings a little more size and quickness than I’m going to bring, whereas I’m going to bring a little bit more experience. But in terms of scoring goals and setting up his teammates, he’s one of the best in the league right now.”
Last year, Jones and Small experienced vastly contrasting point shifts from the 2016-17 season — Small’s point total decreased by 34 points while Jones’ increased by 12 points.