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Active July Reshapes NLL Landscape

Like most sports leagues around the world, the COVID-19 Pandemic ground the NLL to a halt. The season was abruptly paused in March and was later canceled for good.

Teams were quick to get to work following the reopening of the league. Five trades on July 6th kicked off an extremely busy July for the NLL’s member teams. In all, as of July 27th, the league has seen 10 trades over the course of 21 days featuring 13 players switching teams and hauls of draft picks changing hands.

The memorable July has a chance to shape the chase for the NLL Cup not only next season, but this July could also have long-lasting ripple effects that will last years into the future.

The trade that stole the most headlines was Colorado trading captain Dan Coates to the Georgia Swarm in exchange for Zed Williams and the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft.

The move signals a look towards the future for Colorado. Coates had been with the team since 2012 and served as their captain since 2016. Coates ranked in the top five in Mammoth history in games played, caused turnovers, and faceoff wins.

The move also represents an exciting infusion of talent for the Mammoth. In Williams, Colorado is acquiring one of the league’s most exciting young talents. In 12 games for the Swarm last season, Williams recorded 30 points. The sixth pick also presents an opportunity for the Mammoth to add an immediate impact player.

For Georgia, they hope the addition of Coates adds some defensive depth to help backup what was one of the league’s most dangerous offenses last season. Coates’ numbers took a dip last season, but Georgia is hoping the veteran has enough left in the tank for a championship run next season.

The Mammoth continued their youth movement on July 20th, acquiring Kyle Killen from the Vancouver Warriors in exchange for a second-round pick in 2021. Killen is an exciting young scorer, recording 69 points in 34 games over his first two seasons. Killen is a player that Colorado hopes will become a part of their offensive core moving forward.

The busiest division in the league has been the North Division. It’s no coincidence that the North Division was also one of the tightest divisions in the league last year. Toronto, Buffalo, and Halifax were all within a half-game of each other when the season ended and have all made additions that they hope gives them a leg up in the division next season.

Toronto added defensemen Mitch De Snoo and Jason Noble. Toronto hopes the addition of the two defenders bolsters a defense that ranked second to last in the league last season in Loose Balls. The additions are especially important given that Toronto’s division rival Halifax led the league in the same category.

It was the blockbuster, inter-division trade between Buffalo and Toronto that made headlines and helped start the NLL’s trade season on July 6th. To acquire De Snoo, Toronto parted ways with Alec Tullet, Brock Sorensen and a conditional pick in either the 2020 or 2022 NLL Draft. It was a high price to pay for Toronto, but De Snoo could be just what the defense needed to take a big step in the right direction.

Toronto again traded within the division on July 17th, sending David Brock to Halifax.

Moving over to the East Division, where New England, Georgia, and Philadelphia were all within a game and a half of each other when the season ended, the league has seen a flurry of activity. The big trade of the offseason featured the Swarm, but a flurry of other moves promises to give the East Division a new look next season.

On July 6th, New England and Georgia both completed trades. New England traded Mackenzie Mitchell to The Riptide for a second-round pick. On the same day, the Swarm traded Jason Noble to Toronto for a package of picks that included Toronto’s 2021 first rounder, as well as a conditional pick that will fall either in 2020 or 2022.

More recently, the Philadelphia Wings have gotten in on the action, trading Nick Finlay to the Riptide for a fourth-round selection in 2021

Down at the bottom of the East Division, the New York Riptide, who only had one win when the season stopped, have been among the busiest teams in the league. The Riptide has made a flurry of moves indicating their commitment to getting younger and faster. The Riptide has made a number of moves to acquire picks and young players.

The organization was clearly disappointed by their first season in the NLL and are now pivoting directions with a new coach and a number of new players. The Riptide now has their sights towards the draft where they look to begin building a core that will eventually deliver them to the playoffs.

So far, the Riptide has been involved in five trades in July. Most recently, the team acquired veteran defenseman Adrian Sorichetti. The team also received a second-round pick in the deal. For Sorichetti the Riptide parted ways with young defenseman Tyson Bomberry. Bomberry suited up in 11 games for New York last season, recording 29 Loose Balls. Bomberry was the 10th overall selection in last season’s draft and goes to a San Diego Seals team that is looking to build on an encouraging season.

The Riptide has acquired four draft picks this July, while also not being shy about trading away their own draft picks for young players.

While the Riptide looks towards the future, the other teams that have been busy are looking to make an immediate impact. The NLL playoff chase was shaping up to be a historically entertaining one, and with the busy July, the 2021-21 NLL season is shaping up to be another memorable one as the league celebrates its return from the COVID-19 layoff.

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