During the New York Riptide’s inaugural season in the National Lacrosse League back in 2019-20, one of the bright spots of their 1-12 season was the play of forward Tyler Digby. After being selected in the Expansion Draft, Digby had 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points over ten games before he was dealt to the Colorado Mammoth on February 20th, 2020 for a pair of 2nd round draft picks.
Those draft picks that the Riptide acquired turned out to be pretty important as you will find out later in this story, but Digby has now returned to New York. In a deal completed at the trading deadline last Tuesday, the Riptide sent forward Tyson Gibson to Colorado in exchange for Digby, defenseman Ron John and a 2024 1st round pick.
“I was a little surprised,” said Digby. “I didn’t think it was a good or a bad thing but I was definitely a little surprised. But, quickly got to the point where I was looking forward to being back in New York.”
The Riptide are coming off of a bye-week and will welcome Digby and John to the lineup this Saturday night when they host Albany at Nassau Coliseum (7:30pm ET on ESPN+/TSN.ca).
The 31-year-old Digby, who had 6 goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 10 games for the Mammoth this season, is back with an organization that has undergone many changes since he was traded away a couple of years ago. After that first season, the Riptide overhauled their organization bringing in new General Manager Jim Veltman and new Head Coach Dan Ladouceur.
While New York has a record of 3-8 so far this season, the franchise has already come a long way since Digby last wore a Riptide uniform. There’s new management and there’s also a better and deeper roster in place that will have Digby and John added to the mix.
That roster includes NLL veteran superstar Callum Crawford and dynamic rookie Jeff Teat.
“All those guys have proven track records in this league, business and lacrosse in general,” said Digby. “It never hurts to be able to play with a couple of the best players in the world. The excitement quickly overshadowed the surprise. It is a team on the rise and I think hopefully we can do some things this year and definitely look bright into the future.”
With this trade, Digby is reunited with Crawford, his teammate in New England during the 2018-19 campaign. That season, Digby scored 27 goals to go along with a career-high 45 assists for 72 points, the second most in his career.
“One of my better seasons was playing with Callum so I think there’s definitely a quick connection there,” said Digby.
That connection should pick up right where it left off in 2018-19 as Crawford is sixth in the NLL in scoring this season with 67 points (28 goals and 39 assists).
Digby is also pumped up about playing with Teat who is the leading rookie scorer in the National Lacrosse League, and 7th overall with 64 points (20 goals and 44 assists) and is in the running for Rookie of the Year honors.
“The guy has had a hell of a start to his career,” said Digby. “Just some of the vision and the passes that he’s been able to make. I’m very excited to be able to get to play with a player of that caliber.”
Now let’s get back to that trade two years ago that sent Digby to Colorado and how the New York roster has evolved because of it.
One of the 2nd round draft picks that the Riptide acquired for Digby in that 2020 trade eventually made its way back to the Mammoth through a couple of other transactions and with that pick Colorado selected Ron John in the 2020 draft and he joins Digby in New York thanks to last week’s trade.
But wait…there’s more!
This past off-season, the Riptide shipped that other 2nd round pick from the first Digby trade along with a 5th round pick to the San Diego Seals in exchange for forward Connor Kearnan.
Why is that significant?
Kearnan is having a terrific season in New York with 26 goals and 14 assists for 40 points.
So, at the end of the day, Digby was a contributor to the Riptide when he was in New York the first time, then brought them two important draft picks back in that 2020 trade, and now he’s back with a much-improved Riptide team hoping to be an important piece of the puzzle.
“I did not know that (about the original trade) but that’s good to know,” said Digby as he chuckled. “I think that makes that (2020) trade look a little better then.”
So far this season, the Riptide have not had much of a problem scoring as they are 2nd in the NLL in goals scored per game at 12.27. However, New York has allowed 147 goals, the fifth most in the league this season.
The Riptide will certainly benefit from Digby’s scoring ability and his physical presence, but also from John who will give New York a new weapon on the back end.
“I think he’s a really good young player,” said Digby. “He’s a solid defender and I think we’re probably going to get to see a little more of his transition upside as well. I really do believe he’s going to be able to grow into a really good transition player. He plays a tough game and he’s tenacious. He’s going to be able to fit right in and I think his game will speak for itself.”
Digby joins a Riptide team that is 3-8, but the record doesn’t really indicate just how far this team has come since his exodus from New York in 2020. The Riptide have been competitive in just about every game this season losing three contests in overtime, two games by two goals and two others by three goals. At this moment, the Riptide have a big mountain to climb to get back into playoff contention.
New York is chasing Georgia (7-6), the 4th place team in the East, as well as Panther City (5-8), the 4th place team in the West, for a playoff spot while also have to jump over other teams to get there.
Is there enough of a runway left for Digby and the Riptide?
“Yeah definitely,” said Digby. “That’s obviously the goal. They’ve had some close games and it looks to be trending in the right direction. You play your division so much that if you can get on a run, you can really make up some ground there.”
The New York Riptide are only in their second season in the National Lacrosse League, but when you think about their short history thus far in the NLL, Tyler Digby has played a big part in how this team is currently constructed. From a key piece of an expansion team to being part of two trades that have made the team better now and for the future, Digby is an integral part of what the Riptide hope is a championship formula.
This is part of a two-part series discussing the trade between Colorado and New York prior to the 2022 NLL Trade Deadline. To see the other story discussing Tyson Gibson’s story click here.