It’s Day 2 of IL Indoor’s Top 50 Prospects countdown. Each day leading up to the National Lacrosse League Combine and then Entry Draft, we’ll present a group of 10 of the most promising young players in lacrosse. Yesterday, Prospects #41-50 opened the rankings. Today, it’s one step up the ladder with Prospects #31-40. They include three guys who played in this year’s Minto Cup and another who suited up in this year’s Mann Cup. There’s also a goalie and a Blue Devil with a massive sudden-death goal on his resume.
31 – Michael Burke – RF Brampton Excelsiors (MSL & OLA Jr A)
After leading the Ontario junior league in scoring with 129 points (45g, 84a) in 2011, Burke made the jump to Major Series Lacrosse. The transition was not a smooth one for him. On a team that was desperate for scoring he collected just 7 goals in 14 games and never really looked like he was buying into a system. Those struggles hurt his draft stock, but all it takes is one team to remember his immense offensive talent and believe he can fit in with them for Burke to climb back up the charts. He is one of the best pure shooters available.
32 – Jaeden Gastaldo – RT Burnaby Lakers, Langley Thunder (BCJALL)
Gastaldo can run or he can stay home and focus on playing a physical brand of defence. Coming from the back end, he was just six points shy of being Burnaby’s leading scorer last year even though he was traded to Langley with a few games left in the season. He used his speed to take off and score 16 goals along with 18 assists for the Lakers. He was also the captain of the team.
33 – Craig Wende – LG Burlington Chiefs, Kitchener-Waterloo Braves (OLA Jr A)
Wende spent his entire junior career with teams in the bottom third of the OLA standings, first with KW then this past summer with Burlington. Many was the night that his team was heavily outshot but he held them in the game. Wende tied for the best save percentage in the league. Many goalies perform well as underdogs but have trouble translating that performance to be able to perform equally as well with a more competitive club and facing fewer shots. Wende has easily shown enough that some pro team should give him a chance to prove he can thrive under different circumstances.
34 – CJ Costabile – RT Duke University (NCAA Div 1)
He was a long-stick middie at Duke and played the position well enough to make All-American every year and graduate as the school’s all-time leader in ground balls. He was named the top midfielder in D1 and gained renown for his faceoff win and championship-clinching OT goal against Notre Dame. He’ll face the same challenges as other field players working to make the conversion. Several observers believe LSMs face one of the easier transitions from field to box, though. Plus, he’s just really really good, which should help as well.
35 – Kyle Belton – RF Langley Thunder (WLA)
He faces a similar question as Jordan McBride and Jamie Lincoln did heading into last year’s draft: why has the 25-year-old’s production been dropping in each of the four years he’s played in the WLA? Lincoln clearly overcame those concerns to be drafted in the second round and have a strong NLL rookie year in which he scored 27 goals and 46 points. McBride not so much, playing in only 11 of 16 games and scoring 20 points. The fact that Belton’s game is built more on speed and hustle than pure skill suggests it may transfer more smoothly to the pro game—you can control how hard you work if not how many open looks or touches you get.
36 – Robert Koger – LD Ajax Rock (MSL)
What you see is what you get with Koger. He’s a big (6′5”, 220”), strong stay-at-home defender. He won’t score goals for you (just two in 46 career junior games and thee in two seasons of major) but he’ll help you keep the other team from scoring them. He’s a solid lefty who is showing signs of developing into a shutdown guy. Koger may be a bit of a project in the NLL, but his size will earn him a look and he’ll bring his lunch bucket.
37 – Cody McMahon – LF Orangeville Northmen (OLA Jr A), Okotoks Raiders (RMJLL Jr A)
McMahon is small but, like so many of his Orangeville teammates, plays like he doesn’t realize that. He won’t wow you with physicality or athleticism, but he shows a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He’s an excellent team guy and can step up into whatever role a coach wants him to play. A good shooter with strong vision and a high lacrosse IQ, he’s the kind of player you can give a job and expect that he’ll go out and do it. That’s a valuable attribute in a young player.
38 – Kevin Shoemaker – LD/T Coquitlam Adanacs (BCJALL)
Shoemaker is another smaller player (5′10”, 170) who is aware of what he brings to the table. In his IL Indoor draft profile he described his best asset as passion for the game and never giving up on the ball or play. That’s a perfect summary of how he approaches each game. Shoemaker is a fearless competitor with enough toughness to play solid D and enough grit and speed to get loose balls and push them up the floor. With three straight BCJALL titles as an Adanac, he’s also learned what it takes to win and has acquired a taste for it.
39 – Matt Hummel – LD/T Kitchener-Waterloo (MSL), Brampton & Kitchener-Waterloo (OLA Jr A)
Hummel scored a fair bit in junior, totaling 170 points in 85 career games for a very tidy 2 points/game average. He shifted to a more defensive role his finals years in junior and on into major so he’s still on a fairly steep learning curve. His improvement this summer was pronounced and he became an effective member of KW’s hustling defensive corps. His stick skills stand him in good stead when he wants to move the ball.
40 – Dustin Caravello – RF Orangeville Northmen (OLA Jr A)
Caravello was a solid scorer in Junior B and actually maintained his pace almost exactly in his two-and-a-half years in Junior A, totaling 123 points in 48 games. He stepped up his production when opportunities were available. He’s not a sharpshooter but will bury the ball if you leave him a good look and he’s an industrious worker in the offensive zone. As with so many Northmen, he plays much bigger than he is and was a good teammate on the way to a Minto Cup championship.
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