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DraftStories/Op-Ed

NLL Draft: Stock Up/Stock Down

As the draft approaches, players rise and fall in the prospect rankings for any number of reasons. Below are five players who have risen or fallen and a look at what has impacted their status.

 

Stock Up Warren Jeffrey

Everyone knew Jeffrey was a tough customer and solid defender coming out of Jr A Mimico in 2018. The questions as he headed to senior lacrosse, heading to the Brampton Excelsiors as the second-overall selection in the 2019 MSL junior draft, were whether his stick skills were good enough to play at an elite level and whether he could show the discipline to avoid spending too much time in the penalty box.

 

Jeffrey isn’t a transition player and doesn’t need to run the floor regularly to be effective, but any defender on an MSL or NLL roster does need to be able to handle the ball well enough to not be a caused turnover waiting to happen when opponents forecheck. Jeffrey showed this summer that he is comfortable handling the ball in his own end and adept at making the first pass out of the zone. Question one answered.

 

He missed the first two weeks of the season before he returned from school but didn’t take long to find his footing in MSL when he joined the Excels. Jeffrey continued to play the aggressive physical style that he was known for with Mimico but cut down substantially on the penalties he took. After being assessed totals ranging from 35 to 72 PIM in his four years in Mimico, Jeffrey took just three minor penalties in 11 regular season games with Brampton. Question two answered.

 

Those answers raised Jeffrey’s stock from probably late first rounder to likely the third defender taken in the draft.

 

Stock DownAaron Forster

The transition player was established as a solid draft prospect a few years ago. He was a big scorer in Jr B, scoring 63 points as a 17-year-old with Nepean then cracking the century mark in Gloucester the following summer in 2015. He remained dynamic in Jr A with the Toronto Beaches, where he shifted to more of a transition role but still scored 47 points in 2015 and 56 in 2017. The latter summer, he played a game for the Oakville Rock and fit right in at the MSL level with his speed, instincts and sure hands.

 

Forster could have used a full season of Sr A but decided he would play at home in 2018, joining Ottawa’s Sr B Capital Region Axemen. He kept producing, scoring 23 goals and 36 points in just nine games and another 10/11/21 in eight playoff matches.

 

Then he decided to get the season of Sr A he could use to confirm himself as a top prospect. Unfortunately, Forster received a broken thumb a couple of periods into his time with the Burnaby Lakers and wasn’t able to return to the roster as the team waged an ultimately unsuccessful battle to reach the playoffs.

 

Stock UpTravis Getz

When I first saw Getz playing (actually, practicing) in person, I thought what I’m sure a lot of people think about him: that he looks skilled but is small. Like many smaller players, though, the lefty forwards tend to grow on you. Getz is listed at 5’8”, 160 pounds. It’s tempting to say he plays with a fearless approach, but it would probably be more accurate to say he plays with wisdom and awareness. Getz isn’t afraid to go inside and never seems to be overwhelmed when going up against bigger players. His quickness allows him to avoid big hits and to find openings to pass or shoot. He got off to a rousing start with the Brooklin Merchants, scoring 6 goals and 2 assists in his first game with them, then wound up tying for the team lead with 17 goals despite playing only eight of their 15 games.

 

Getz actually played more games for Brooklin’s MSL team with nine. While he didn’t score at the same pace as in Sr B, he did fit in well while scoring 8 goals and 7 assists. Getz is a willing worker with good feet and hands. He isn’t going to step in and set the NLL on fire, but he could be a useful depth forward and gradually develop more of a scoring role as he earns more playing time and touches.

 

So, where I initially saw the Calgary native as a late-round pick, I’d be a little surprised if he isn’t among the 33 players taken in the first two rounds and certainly expect him to go no later than the third.

 

Stock DownMatt Vangalen

Van Galen has literally gone up and down the last couple of summers. He started 2018 with the Oakville Titans Sr B team but was so impressive in his callups with MSL’s Oakville Rock that they wound up signing him to be an A card as a permanent member of the lineup. He finished the season second on the team in scoring with 19 goals and 23 assists for 42 points. The future indeed looked bright after such a strong performance, leading folks like me to project Van Galen as a possible first rounder this year even before the addition of compensatory picks turned it into a 17-pick marathon.

 

A slump in the playoffs, when Van Galen scored just 10 points in eight games (a drop in per-game production from 2.8 to 1.3) turned out to be more a precursor than a bump in the road. Van Galen returned to the Rock this summer, didn’t seem to gel with the rest of the offense as well as he had a year earlier, scored 20 points in 10 games and was reclassified down to a B card for the remainder of the season.

 

He did rebound with the Titans, putting up a tidy 8 goals and 8 assists in four regular-season games for a 4.0 ppg average and added another 21 points in seven playoff games. Van Galen is still a solid prospect, but his chances of going in the first round have diminished greatly.

 

 

Stock UpBrent Noseworthy

Noseworthy improved so dramatically over the course of the season with Brooklin Lacrosse Club of MSL that it’s fair to wonder how it was even possible. The thing is, the 14 games he played with BLC this summer increased the number of box games he’d played as a runner by 30%.

 

That’s right, he had been a runner in only 46 box lacrosse games at any level before making his Major Series debut. It’s not like he hadn’t been playing since he was a kid. It’s just that Noseworthy was a goalie all the way up through minor and into Jr B, even winning a couple of national championships with Team Ontario.

 

After a year in net with the Oakville Buzz, Noseworthy switched to defense. With his commitments at the University of Michigan, where the midfielder became the first player in program history to score 100 goals, Noseworthy didn’t get to play a lot of games during the summers.

 

In 2017 he moved up to Jr A with the Burlington Chiefs but only played 10 total games between regular season and playoffs, then in 2018 he spent the summer doing an internship in San Francisco. Hence the lack of experience as a box runner entering this summer. He got better by the game, gaining confidence handling the ball and even filling it at forward for some shifts when BLC was short lefties.

 

Add it all up and you’ve got a player with tremendous talent and athleticism on a very steep learning curve. For NLL teams, it means someone who may be a bit of a project but has shown he is coachable and driven, excellent traits for long-term success.

 

 

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