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For Colorado, the Expansion Draft is One Big Game of Chess

For the Colorado Mammoth, the answer wasn’t always “who”.

It was often times “where”.

The tough decisions in building a protected list for the 2019 National Lacrosse League Expansion Draft had a lot to do with geography for Mammoth Head Coach and Interim General Manager Pat Coyle.

“That’s one of the things we looked at,” Coyle said. “We have some eastern based guys we were a little more worried about getting picked up because it’s two eastern teams that are in the expansion draft. We were sort of hoping that if maybe we left a western guy exposed that maybe we didn’t want to, it would be harder for them to take him just because of the travel issues.”

Colorado’s roster is geographically diverse. The Mammoth’s protected list included seven Ontario natives and one from the state of New York, which would have been enticing selections for the two New York-based expansion teams in Rochester and Long Island. The other three protected players were Western Canada guys in British Columbia natives Eli McLaughlin, who led the team in scoring last season, and defensemen Jordan Gilles and Taylor Stuart.

No matter where each player hailed from, they were gut-wrenching decisions.

“I don’t know, it’s like trying to pick which kid’s your favorite in some ways,” he said. “It’s almost an impossible decision. It comes down to contracts some of the time. You don’t want to lose anybody, so to have to pick to lose someone is really tough.”

The Mammoth protected just four forwards, which could be accredited to a strong defense and an irreplaceable goaltender in Dillon Ward. On the flipside, it left a very good goalie in Steve Fryer exposed.

“If we could, we would have (protected him),” Coyle said. “Steve won Most Inspirational Player for us this year. He’s a fantastic teammate. But he’s also behind arguably the best goaltender in the league in Dillon Ward. Dillon, the last three years, has been nominated for the goalie of the year for the league and we plan on having him in our organization for a lot of years to come.

“For Steve, as much as we didn’t want (to leave him unprotected), and we hope no one picks him up. But there’s a good chance we know we’re going to lose him.”

Like most general managers, Coyle is anxiously waiting the selections to move forward in offseason preparations.

“You’re hoping the decisions you made worked but there’s a chance it could all backfire and you could fall flat on your face,” Coyle said. “It’d be nice to know what it’s going to be and which direction we’re going to go from there.”

Broadcast live on NLL social channels, the Expansion Draft Selection Show will be held at 12pm ET on July 9th.