The Minnesota Swarm gave up Josh Sanderson and Nick Inch to get Jeff Gilbert on their roster, and so much more. Yes, the Swarm also got the No. 12 pick (Corbyn Tao) in last year’s entry draft and a first-rounder this year, but that’s not the “more” we’re talking about. On a team filled with so much rookie talent, the Swarm needed a veteran to step in on defense and lead the way and that’s what they got in Gilbert, who won a Champion’s Cup with Toronto in 2011. Working in front of a pair of rookie goalies, Gilbert was the steady force in the back end, putting himself among the team leaders with 66 loose balls. Why not more?
He was busy putting the ball on the floor for other teammates to scoop up, finishing the season with 26 forced turnovers, which ranked No. 2 overall in the NLL. And if by chance he was needed on the front end to finish off a transition, he was there for that as well.
He tied a career high with 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) and both of his goals came short-handed in the same game. It all added up to his first All-Pro selection in the NLL when he was named to the second team at season’s end. But even better than that, he was an integral part of a defense that helped launch the Swarm to not only their first playoff win in franchise history, but the Western Division final.
It’s all in a day’s work for the 6-foot-4 defenseman, whose punishing, physical style of play also is a big part of the defense in the summer for the Brooklin Redmen of Major Series Lacrosse. Gilbert and the Redmen won the regular-season MSL title with a 10-4 record before their playoff exit in the MSL semifinals, a disappointment for sure.
But this is a team game, and 1 man a team does not make. On the other hand, 1 man can make a big difference for a unit of a team and if you want a defense that’s a game-changer, you want Gilbert to be part of that defense.
Fact: In 7 combined NLL and MSL seasons, Gilbert’s teams have 6 playoff appearances.
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