Best of the best eligible players for #NLLDraft on Monday via IL Indoor
The 2014 NLL Draft is set for Monday, Sept. 22 at Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, Ontario. Watch live on YouTube via The Lacrosse Network (YouTube.com/TLN) to see which of the NLL’s future stars will hear their name called to join the world’s most elite lacrosse players in the National Lacrosse League.
But who are the top prospects for the #NLLDraft? Stephen Stamp has completed his countdown of the NLL Top 50 with players ranked 1-10 on IL Indoor.
“And finally we reach the peak of the summit,” Stamp writes. “Below are IL Indoor’s Top 10 prospects for the 2014 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft. They include four righty forwards, four lefty forwards and a pair of defenders. These are the players you can expect to see called to the podium early in the draft on Monday night at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre. Come back regularly to IL Indoor for all the best in NLL draft coverage.”
1 – Jeremy Noble – RF University of Denver (NCAA)
For years leading up to this draft, Noble was considered the likely top pick. He will likely fall from that spot primarily because the stacked Edmonton Rush covet the size that Ben McIntosh brings to the table for their offence. Noble packs a lot of great lacrosse into a small package, though. In 2010 he was named MVP of the OLA Jr A playoffs at age 18. He won three Minto Cups with the Orangeville Northmen. In the final one in 2012, he came back to play in the finals despite a torn hamstring. His leadership is off the charts, as is his skill set. He is a tremendous shooter and great setup man. While he does most of his damage from the outside, he will go where he needs to to be effective. While he hasn’t played much box lacrosse over the last two summers, he was starting to look more comfortable back indoors with Oakville towards the end of this summer. He may take a bit to adjust to the NLL, but should be an impact player in his rookie year and just get better from there.
2 – Ben McIntosh – RF Drexel University (NCAA)
McIntosh never did play a full season of junior lacrosse with the Coquitlam Adanacs because of his commitment at Drexel, but he put up points whenever he donned the yellow and purple. He scored 328 points (191g, 137a) in 90 games between regular season and playoffs. He’s added 60 points in 21 games over two seasons with the Burrards and had a breakout performance in this year’s WLA playoffs with 27 goals and 11 assists in 11 games. McIntosh is a big, strong forward with great skill. He’s ready to play and contribute immediately at the NLL level.
3 – Miles Thompson – RF University at Albany (NCAA)
A pure goal scorer, Thompson has ethereal skills and as much passion for the game as anyone. He and his brother Lyle shared the Tewaaraton Award as college lacrosse’s top player this year. They also dazzled everyone at the world field lacrosse championships, where they were instrumental in helping the Iroquois Nationals win the bronze medal. Miles has posted 88 goals and 53 assists for 141 points in 28 Sr B games over the past three regular seasons and has added an 88/65/153 line in 36 playoff games. The only drawback is that he hasn’t played against Sr A competition, but he has outshone several NLL players at the Presidents Cup Sr B championship. His skills look like they will translate into immediate scoring at the NLL level.
4 – Robert Hope – LD Pfeiffer University (NCAA)
Hope isn’t the kind of player to draw a lot of attention. He’s a steady, reliable stay at home defender. He had a reasonably strong rookie season with the Lakers in 2013 then really stepped up his game in 2014 to become one of the key cogs in their defence. He needs to add some strength, but already is solid against the best offensive players in the game. Hope makes good decisions in the defensive zone, seldom getting caught out of position. He actually played attack at Pfeiffer and has good enough hands to help out in transition; he scored 45 points in his final two seasons of junior lacrosse. Hope appears to be ready to step right into an NLL lineup as a regular defender who can play in all situations.
5 – Eli McLaughlin – LF Coquitlam Adanacs (BCJALL)
McLaughlin has been emerging as a high-calibre player in the BCJALL for a few years, but didn’t garner the attention he might have because he was playing with the upstart Delta Islanders. He helped them to become more competitive. At this year’s trading deadline they sent him to the Adanacs, where he thrived in his first prolonged taste of playoff action. McLaughlin led Coquitlam with 40 points in 10 playoff games, added 17 in the four-game Western Canadian finals then added 22 points in the six-game Minto Cup. That run may have quieted any uncertainty about his ability to step and perform at a higher level.
6 – Mark Cockerton – LF Virginia (NCAA)
Cockerton is in the same boat as Noble in that he hasn’t played a lot of box lacrosse the last couple of years, making it hard to get a read on him. His last year of junior, in 2012, he scored 45 goals and 50 assists with the Whitby Warriors. Derek Keenan, who coached him in junior, has been quoted as calling Cockerton the most talented player in the draft. He’s a smaller lefty with great hands. He never really hit his stride in half a dozen games with the Redmen this summer but is expected to be scorer at the NLL level.
7 – Shane MacDonald – LF/T Brampton Excelsiors (OLA Jr A)
Had a big season in 2012 with 98 points, including 37 goals. MacDonald had a balanced 27 goals and 28 assists this summer with the Excelsiors. Unfortunately, he was only able to play in three playoff games in his final season with the team. He did put up 16 points in those three games. Observers like his blend of size and skill.
8 – Sheldon Burns – D Dowling College (NCAA)
Has played two seasons with the Redmen after a solid Jr A career with the Whitby Warriors that included a Minto title in 2011. Burns is athletic enough to get out and cover players high in the zone, smart enough to know when he needs to get back in tight and has good enough footwork to maintain position on his checks. He projects to be a reliable depth defender.
9 – Matt Crough – RF Dowling College (NCAA)
Crough has scored 63 points in two seasons with the senior Lakers after a Jr A career that saw him rack up 154 goals in 94 games. He has excellent hands and feet; can catch and handle the ball in traffic and work the crease line. Crough isn’t the biggest player but he isn’t afraid to go inside and can finish when he gets opportunities. His playing time has been limited on the stacked Lakers offence, but he takes his chances when he gets them and maintains a great attitude.
10 – Josh Johnson – LF Six Nations Arrows (OLA Jr A)
A small but very talented player, Johnson was 8th in CLax in scoring this year, putting up 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points in just five games. He has a quick release but still gets plenty on his shot. Johnson is very good at slipping through traffic to receive passes and get his shot off. He’s scored over 30 goals and 70 points each of the past two seasons with the Arrows and was a big part of their Minto-winning team this summer.
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