The National Lacrosse League March 19th trade deadline is rapidly approaching. Last week I previewed the West Division (Link- http://bit.ly/2owb0s0) and now it’s time to analyze the East.
Brian Shanahan and I broke down each team’s potential needs and current situation heading into the deadline. Listen to our conversation below.
Current Standing: 5th in the East (5-6)
The Knighthawks streakiness in 2018 is the epitome of a young talented team sprinkled with quality veterans. Hot start, long losing skid that’s turned around into three straight victories. Rochester is loaded with rookies and sophomores on the rise that look to be clicking as we inch towards the playoffs.
Acquiring a pair of future draft picks from Saskatchewan for 36-year old Dan Dawson is another example of the franchise empowering the youth with opportunity. I believe the K-Hawks are going to sit tight at the deadline and see how this current roster continues to mesh.
Current Standing: 4th in the East (5-6)
I’m still shocked that this group is under .500 with all the firepower they possess. Swarm coaches Ed Comeau and Dan Ladouceur told me last week that over the past few games the club has “adjusted to the adjustments” that league defenses have made to their potent offense.
Jordan Hall and Joel White returning to the lineup recently is an influx of extra talent already. The pieces for a lengthy Georgia postseason run are already in place, it’s just a matter of getting on a roll a the right time for the defending champs.
Current Standing: 3rd in the East (5-5)
On paper the Rock own one of the most complete units in the NLL, yet they sit at .500. It’s expected that they’ll get back one of the key offensive cogs in “Captain America” Tom Schreiber from a knee injury before the playoffs…but Toronto needs to ensure they punch a ticket to the tournament first.
Does dealing for extra scoring make sense to help push them through? If Vancouver becomes sellers at the deadline then keep an eye out for Corey Small coming to Ontario.
Current Standing: 2nd in the East (6-5)
Bringing in prolific scorer Shawn Evans from division rival New England in exchange for Callum Crawford was Buffalo’s way of pushing all their chips to the middle of the table. The franchise is eager to prove that it is much more like the 2016 Champion’s Cup version than the disastrous flop of a year ago.
The Bandits are an interesting case in that they can just as easily bury or allow a slew of goals. They’re third in the league for total goals, while letting in the second most. The goaltending has been inconsistent, but trading now for a true No. 1 netminder doesn’t seem realistic. Strengthening defense and/or transition is what could help separate this team from the crowded East.
Current Standing: 1st in the East (5-4)
The overhaul of New England’s roster began in the summer by acquiring title winning goalie Aaron Bold and transition player John LaFontaine from the Rush. An early season deal with Toronto added lefty forward Stephan Leblanc and Feb. 20th brought in another southpaw shooter in Johnny Powless from Georgia. Oh ya, and let’s not forget about the blockbuster transaction that sent Shawn Evans to Buffalo for Callum Crawford.
So it appears that the Black Wolves have done the heavy lifting when it comes to big ticket trades. However, adding depth on defense is something to keep an eye on. Besides squeaking by the 1-11 Stealth, they gave up an average of 19.33 goals per game in their previous three. The remaining schedule is littered with high scoring opponents and New England needs to tighten up in front of Bold.
Andy McNamara has been a play-by-play commentator for the NLL on TSN, NLLTV.com, and world lacrosse tournaments since 2011. He’s also a sport talk host and anchor on TSN 1050 sports radio. Follow Andy on twitter @AndyMc81.