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Final Thoughts Before the 2019 NLL Draft

1. Heightened Sense of Pressure

On Tuesday night there’s going to be a ton of nervous energy as a room full of players sit anxiously waiting to hear the Commissioner say their name. The draft has come a long way since Teddy Jenner was taken 11th overall back in 2001, but that gut-wrenching feeling every time a team passes on you will never change. However, for Regy Thorpe and Dan Carey, the nerves will be equally as palpable, if not more.

Going into their first drafts as General Managers is taxing enough; add on top of that the pressure of a brand-new franchise’s future. “For sure [there are] some nerves, but our staff has done a great job in preparing for the entry draft,” said Thorpe. Adding that he feels “really good about our preparations”

Both have been through the process before as players, and Carey was AGM with the Mammoth last season, so they know what these guys are going through. “There’s always nerves,” commented Carey, “but I had nerves as a player, too. That nervous excitement is a good thing to have.”

Don’t expect any sympathy from their fellow GMs, though. Thorpe holds the coveted first-overall selection Tuesday night, and while he has fielded calls from other teams about that pick, they are “keeping [their] short term goals in mind while also keeping sight of having a long-term, stable team that can be successful both on and off the field.”

Many team execs will be in Oakville for the Combine this weekend, and Carey, who’s been incredibly impressed with his staff’s preparation, is looking forward to seeing many of the players firsthand and expects to “add a few players” to his draft list. So there’s still time to make an impression, fellas.

Unfortunately, like a few others from the NLL, Thorpe will be in be Langley at the 2019 Worold Indoor Lacrosse Championship, so he’ll likely be pacing back and forth in his hotel room on Tuesday night.


2. Slim Pickings

With 89 names to be called out Tuesday night in Philly, the 13 NLL clubs average just under seven picks each. The Swarm lead the way with 11 selections, followed by the Riptide and Knighthawks who have 10 each. Unfortunately, the Vancouver Warriors, who finished last season with a 5-13 record, only have three picks to their name. That’s right—they won’t be at the podium until the 52nd pick and only have two more selections (67th & 80th) afterwards.

GM Dan Richardson has been busy in the offseason trying to bring in some local free agents like Colton Clark, Patrick O’Meara, Sam Clare, and Andrew Gallant. These signings aren’t breaking the bank, and there are no guarantees they’ll all make the final roster, but the Warriors are trying to do all they can right now to change the culture in Vancouver after far too many years of disappointment. The biggest get so far has been Riley Loewen, who has won cups in Saskatchewan and Calgary and will be another lefty weapon in addition to Mitch Jones and Logan Schuss. There are more FAs out there that are on Vancouver’s ‘Wish List,’ but it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there on the free-agent market. Getting Joel McCready and Chris O’Dougherty back will also gain the Warriors some more grit and leadership as Richardson continues to try and build a playoff-caliber team.

You have to go all the way back to 2013 to find a first-round draft pick from the Warriors/Stealth franchise, and Cody Bremner isn’t even playing lacrosse anymore. When Richardson took over the job as Warriors GM back in June of last year, he wasn’t exactly flush with cash, picks, or prospects. He’s had to unload unhealthy contracts and fan favorites, and he’s been forced to try to squeeze diamonds out of coal. With no real chances to move up in the draft, the Warriors will have to wait until 2020 to make any sort of noise on draft night.


3. “We have a trade to announce.”

There always seem to be trades at the NLL draft, sometimes huge ones that cause seismic ripples throughout the room. Last year, Georgia sent Jesse King and the 23rd pick in the draft to Calgary for Holden Cattoni and the 7th pick, which they promptly used to select Brendan Bomberry.

Back in 2011, Rochester provided a stunner when they shipped Shawn Evans and a 2012 first-rounder to Calgary for the 5th pick so they could select Johnny Powless.

Will something at that level happen at the 2019 draft? It’s hard to say, but how about the following scenario for a potential shocker: New York trades the 1st overall pick to Saskatchewan for the 4th pick and either a roster player or another first rounder?

To be clear, I haven’t heard that this is going to happen, and I actually think the most likely scenario is that New York uses the first pick on Andrew Kew, as we’ve all figured for a while that they would.

Still, it would be an interesting trade and would make some sense for both teams when you delve into the layers a little bit.

There’s been a pretty solid buzz that New York is enamored of Tyson Bomberry, even to the extent that they considered for a while just using the first pick on him. By trading the first pick, they could almost surely still get Bomberry at 4 and add another pick with which the expansion team could get a player who would start for them right away.

The tricky thing about this imaginary trade would be determining what the other asset would have to be to compel the Riptide to risk moving down. New York would almost surely ask for the #9 overall pick and Saskatchewan would almost surely try to convince the Riptide to take #16.

Will it happen? Probably not. Would it shake up the draft? It sure would. Whether it’s this trade or, more likely, one that we haven’t even heard rumors of yet, look for a slight delay to the drafting at some point on Tuesday as commissioner Nick Sakiewicz steps to the stage and says “We have a trade to announce.”


2. Draft Night Steals

As we get into the later rounds of the draft, a theme arises that it is highly unlikely players being selected at that point will make a roster. While it’s true that late rounders are long shots and that the shots may be even longer this year with the draft extending to 89 picks, players selected late into Tuesday night’s proceedings shouldn’t give up hope. After all, it’s not unheard of for late-round picks to make it—and sometimes make it big—in the NLL.

Two-time NLL Transition Player of the Year Joey Cupido was selected by Colorado in the 5th round, 38th overall, in 2011.

Former NLL Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Dilks was picked even later by Toronto, also in the 5th round but 50th overall, in 2010.

The year after Cupido was a draft night steal for the Mammoth, Washington took Kyle Buchanan in the 6th round. Like Dilks, Buchanan bounced to a couple of teams before really hitting his stride, but now he’s one of the top loose-ball collectors among NLL forwards.

And finally, we go back to the 2008 draft to find the poster child for late-round draft picks. Patrick Saunders was selected by Chicago with the very last pick, 76th overall at the end of the 6th round. Saunders took a while to find an NLL gig, but he eventually made it to the show and produced seasons of 38 and 44 goals.