With the 2016 NLL Draft on Monday, Sept. 26 now less than six weeks away, projections and predictions are rolling in as to which players will hear their names called and by what team. Preview Stephen Stamp’s Mock Draft 1.1 below for the most up-to-date look at some of the top prospects for the upcoming National Lacrosse League draft.
“Hold the phone. Stop the presses. There’s been a shakeup to the list of prospects for the 2016 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft and it necessitates a revisiting of my first mock draft of the year,” Stamp writes.
Six Nations Arrows goaltender Doug Jamieson has confirmed to IL Indoor that he plans to enter the draft this fall. That radically changes the complexion of what is likely to happen when the teams gather at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre on September 26.
One of the first questions from the mouths of those of you who follow this process as closely as I do will be whether the rumours of Jamieson’s Arrows teammate Austin Staats also entering the draft are true as well. No, they are not. Staats is heading to Onondaga Community College in a couple of weeks to begin his college career, although he is expected to be available to the Six Nations Chiefs if they reach the Mann Cup.
Jamieson’s entry is more than enough to create some seismic shifts in the way the draft will play out, though. Below is my current best guess at the first two rounds.
1) Saskatchewan Rush (from Vancouver): Ryan Keenan, LF, Brooklin Redmen and Quinnipiac
No change at the top. I still think Rush GM Derek Keenan needs to pick his son first to avoid losing him to the Toronto Rock. And Ryan Keenan has done nothing in the MSL playoffs to suggest he’s anything but ready to step into an NLL lineup and contribute in a depth role. That may not be what you expect to hear about a number one pick, but it’s the reality with the strength of the Rush roster and the lukewarm quality of this year’s draft compared to last season’s.
2) Toronto Rock: Challen Rogers, RT, Oakville Rock
Rogers has solidified his status as an upper-tier prospect with his play in the MSL playoffs. His body language on the floor has changed markedly. Rogers looks comfortable both engaging one-on-one with any forward an opponent can throw at him and with working as part of a solid Oakville D unit. He’s also running the floor more confidently.
3) Saskatchewan Rush (from Rochester): Michael Messenger, RD, New Westminster Salmonbellies
This makes it three picks with no change from Mock 1.0—don’t worry, there’s plenty of change coming—but Messenger just makes perfect sense for Saskatchewan still, although I wouldn’t bat an eye if they decided that adding Jamieson for the long term is a move they need to make. Messenger appears to be healthy after getting dinged up a bit earlier in the summer and he’s played in all of New West’s WLA playoff games.
4) Georgia Swarm: Doug Jamieson, G, Six Nations Arrows
Yes, the Swarm just signed Mike Poulin. And yes, they still have the enormous potential of enormous goalie Brodie MacDonald. And finally, yes they still have a glaring need for some shutdown D. Think about it this way. The Swarm have gotten uneven goaltending the last few years. They have built a roster that is young and talented and looks like it could compete for championships for a long time with some judicious tweaking. Poulin may be able to get them over that final hurdle. But Jamieson is a special talent in net. Goalies like him don’t come along that often. Taking him here means they’ll miss out on Matt Hossack, but there will be solid defenders the Swarm can target with their plethora of selections in this draft. There won’t be another goalie like Jamieson.
Here are some numbers to give you an idea of what Jamieson brings to the table. His save percentages in three Jr A regular seasons: .849, .837, .813. Those are really good. Even more impressive are his save percentages in three Jr A playoff runs: .833, .843, .828. Those are excellent percentages to be posting against the best teams at the Jr A level. He’s never given up more than 7 goals a game for a season of Jr B or Jr A.
In 2014, Jamieson was the putative backup to Don Alton, who had already established himself as a stellar Jr A goalie. Jamieson stepped between the pipes at one point early in the playoffs that year and they couldn’t get him out. He was named the OLA playoffs MVP and helped lead the team to the Minto Cup championship.
A year later, when his Arrows faced the Coquitlam Adanacs in the Minto, he was behind a great defensive unit that frustrated the Adanacs shooters. What frustrated them more was that whenever they were able to fight their way through for a scoring chance, Jamieson made turning aside their shots look easy. Christian Del Bianco, who was in net for Coquitlam, went in the second round of last year’s NLL draft and looks like the future in Calgary. Jamieson is an even brighter prospect; expect the Swarm to snap him up if he gets to them.
5) Calgary Roughnecks: Holden Cattoni, LF, Peterborough Lakers and Johns Hopkins
The Roughnecks could use a dynamic shooter to add to their left side. Cattoni has continued to show that he’s ready to play whatever role they need him to and he’s still a Calgary native. No change for this pick.
6) Rochester Knighthawks (from New England): Matt Hossack, RD, Brooklin Redmen
Jamieson entering the draft generates a major benefit for the Knighthawks: they can keep the Hossack brothers together. After getting Graeme with the second overall pick last year, Rochester can double down and give their defence another shot of athleticism and lacrosse IQ. Matt isn’t the bruiser that Graeme is, but he’s very effective on D, always seems to be around loose balls and can push the pace in transition.
7) Rochester Knighthawks (from Colorado): Josh Currier, RF, Peterborough Lakers and Virginia Wesleyan
I had Currier falling further in my first mock. He just continues to play so well for the Lakers in the playoffs, showcasing his slick hands and quick feet, that it would be hard for Rochester to let him slide by. With Jamieson gone, the team having loaded up on defenders last year and adding the younger Hossack in this mock, it makes sense to just take the best player available and that is Currier.
8) Georgia Swarm (from Buffalo): Connor Sellars, RD, Brampton Excelsiors and Belmont Abbey
The only downside of taking Jamieson at four is the Swarm don’t get a chance to grab a defender at that spot. Having Sellars available at eight is a nice consolation prize. He’s the kind of defender who can knock guys flat with legal checks. That is exactly what the Swarm need to add to their roster.
9) Saskatchewan Rush: Bryan Cole, LT, Oakville Rock and Maryland
Keenan has been looking for another lefty transition player for a while; here’s his chance to get a good one who can be developed to take over a role as the Rush need to transition to a younger, cheaper lineup. Cole played much of the season at forward because the Rock needed an extra stick there. In the playoffs, though, he has come out the back door and he has shone. The question about Cole has been whether his defence is up to par at the NLL level. He’s not a shutdown guy, but he has played well in his own zone against a potent Peterborough Lakers attack and he does an excellent job of pushing the pace.
10) Georgia Swarm (compensatory selection): Leo Stouros, LD, Six Nations Chiefs
More solidity for the Swarm’s back end. Stouros started the season playing like a good rookie defender. Late in the season and into the playoffs he has started to play like a good defender, with no qualifier needed. He may go through a similar adjustment period in the pro game, but he should be a reliable depth defender sooner rather than later, the kind of guy you can trust not to make many mistakes and to be a positive locker room presence.
11) Vancouver Stealth: Warren Hill, G, Six Nations Chiefs and Syracuse
Is Eric Penney a viable NLL starter? Perhaps, but so far he has posted a 3-10 career record and .741 save percentage. Tyler Richards has at times been one of the best goalies in lacrosse, but over the last three seasons he is 11-24 with a .752 save percentage. The Stealth need to make sure they have a goalie of the future. Hill can definitely be that and he could well be their goalie of the present, as well.
12) Toronto (from Toronto via New England): Zach Herreweyers, LF, Brampton Excelsiors and Loyola
Same as Mock 1.0. Toronto needs a lefty forward. Herreweyers is a risk/reward pick for Toronto. Not much box lacrosse over the last couple of summers heightens questions about how effective he’ll be at pro level. High-end talent suggests he could be a legitimate scoring threat.
13) Buffalo (from Rochester): Adam Jay, RD, Delta Islanders
I had the Bandits taking Cole in Mock 1.0. With him gone, the Bandits won’t get a lefty but they will get a big, bruising, smart defender who has confirmed to IL Indoor that he is entering the draft this year. Jay has been impressive with the Islanders in their playoff run. He’s 6’4”, 220 pounds. And he has some hands, too, as he has shown by scoring 6 goals on just 7 shots in the playoffs.