The National Lacrosse League Entry Draft just keeps getting better and better. You could argue that the very top end of last year’s draft—with Kevin Crowley, Stephen Keogh, Adam Jones, Jordan MacIntosh and Johnny Powless—included more star power than the first five this year, although the 2012 crop certainly gives last year’s cohort a run for its money. There’s no question, however, that this was a remarkably deep draft, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Alex Crepinsek looks very good as the number 10 pick, last in the first round, for Minnesota. Then, in the second round, seven defenders were picked, any one of whom would have been a reasonable pick at that spot.
The challenge now is for all these good young players to find a way to crack a lineup in the increasingly competitive NLL job market. John Tavares said in a post-draft interview that the plethora of big and talented players coming into the league makes him realize he’d better make sure he’s ready for the new year. “I’ll be in the gym tomorrow for sure,” he said only half jokingly. When an incoming class can make the best player of all time nervous about the coming season, you know it’s good. Below are IL Indoor’s grades each team’s haul from the 2012 draft. Thanks to Dave Fryer for the draft night pictures.
5. Dhane Smith (Kitchener, ON), 13. Hayden Smith (Orangeville, ON), 16. Jordan Critch (Orangeville, ON), 18. Carter Bender (University of Hartford), 22. Kevin Brownell (Robert Morris University), 31. Joel Matthews (University of Detroit Mercy), 40. Wenster Green (Six Nations, ON)
Buffalo wanted to get younger and more athletic, to shore up the back end and add some left-handed offence. Mission accomplished. Dhane Smith isn’t as polished as some of the players coming into the league but he’s extraordinarily athletic, has a great skill set and is eager to keep improving. Hayden Smith is a staunch defender and elite-level pest. Critch adds versatility and a great shot and Bender brings some crash and bang to open space for the Bandits front-door stars.
Brownell was a top-tier prospect before dropping below the radar. If he returns to the form that originally had teams coveting him a couple of years ago, he’ll be an excellent pick at 22. Matthews is a big body with two 100-point Junior A seasons on his resume. Green is a long-term project but a promising one.
This is a great haul for the Bandits, addressing about as many things as you could hope to in a single draft. A
6. Joe Resetarits (University of Albany), 7. Matthew Dinsdale (Coquitlam, BC), 17. Jackson Decker (Burnaby, BC), 36. Chad Cummings (Kitchener, ON), 45. Kyle Dexter (Calgary, AB), 50. Curtis Pridham (Calgary, AB), 54. Myles Dennett (Calgary, AB)
Resetarits and Dinsdale bring a lot to the table for the Roughnecks. Decker is not quite as sure-fire a prospect but he has a ton of upside. Calgary had a big break before their next pick and that is reflected in the likelihood of any of the rest of their picks making the roster, which diminishes exponentially after Decker.
Taking three Calgary kids shows a commitment to developing the sport in their home province. None of the three are likely to be wearing a Riggers jersey this year, but all are solid players who will benefit greatly from a pro training camp. That in turn should help Alberta lacrosse keep improving, which is definitely in the long-term interests of the team. A nice symbiosis and a smart use of later picks. B+
9. Colton Clark (Bellarmine University), 44. Jaden Gastaldo (Burnaby, BC), 53. Alex Demopoulos (University of Denver)
Obviously opportunities are limited when you have one late first-rounder then nothing till the fifth, but Colorado did get what they wanted most: a talented righty forward. Clark will bring an honest effort and should help keep the Mammoth offence rolling. Gastaldo is a good value at 44 and could pan out. Demopoulos has about as much chance of seeing floor time as you’d expect from the fourth-last pick in the draft. It’ll be interesting to see, however, if he can translate the finishing talent he’s shown on the field over to the box. If he can, he’s a steal at 53. C
1. Mark Matthews (Denver University), 8. Curtis Knight (Whitby, ON), 15. Michael Cudmore (University of Hartford), 28. Michael Burke (Brampton, ON), 33.* Simon Giourmetakis (Canisius College), 35.* Mitchell Bannister (Okotoks, AB), 55. Kyle Goodchild (University of Hartford)
What did Edmonton add? The best player in the draft who is a sublime passer, skilled scorer, natural leader and who makes everyone around him better in Matthews; arguably the best combination of intelligence, dedication and versatility in the draft in Knight; a burgeoning shut-down defender in Cudmore; a lights-out shooter in Burke; a couple of talented kids from their back yard in Giourmetakis and Bannister; and a solid defender with an outside shot at cracking the lineup in Goodchild.
Looking back at this draft down the road, the Rush could recall it as the night they added two franchise cornerstones. That’s a pretty good draft right there. A
2. Brock Sorenson (Ohio State University), 3. Kiel Matisz (Robert Morris University), 4. Shayne Jackson (Limestone College), 10. Alex Crepinsek (Rochester Institute of Technology), 24. Sam Bradman (Salisbury College), 37.* Tyler Tanguay (Adrian College), 42. Bryan Campbell (Brock University), 46.* Matt Gibson (Yale University), 49.** Michael Teeter (Victoria, BC), 51. Chris Cudmore (Mars Hill College)
Speaking of pretty good drafts, Minnesota became even younger, even faster and even more talented than the team that showed immense promise in winning the franchise’s first playoff game last season. Sorensen is a huge piece of the puzzle for a team looking to go beyond that and bring home a championship.
Matisz isn’t quite Kevin Crowley, but his game isn’t that far off that of last year’s first overall selection and we saw how smoothly Crowley adapted to the pro game. Crepinsek is a tremendous addition on the defensive end.
Jackson is the question mark as the first non-Matthews lefty forward to be taken in the draft. He’s talented but there were other options that many observers would have been more inclined to tap. If he can overcome his lack of size to provide secondary scoring and take pressure off Ryan Benesch on the left side, this will prove to be a good pick. If he doesn’t perform up to the standard of a fourth-overall pick, handwringing over not taking Jordan Critch, Bender or Mitch Jones could ensue.
Head Coach Joe Sullivan is certainly pleased with the Swarm’s haul. “We got our size, we got our transition, we got our lefty goal scorer that we were in dire need to find,” he said. “But then we found Crepinsek really solidified himself at that combine. We watched what he did against John Grant, Jr. all summer long when he had the opportunity and I think he has the capability to be a shut down guy and we need those.”
Sullivan had a message for the rest of his team. “There’s guys at home that I hope take note, that remember how tough it was to make our team last year. It’s just that much tougher this year. That’s what we’re hoping to do is move the bar. We got to the Western final last year and that’s great but that’s not where we wanted to go. We wanted to get further on than that.” The Swarm are putting themselves in position to get further. A
32. Michael Manley (Duke University), 39. CJ Costabile (Duke University), 41. Kevin Randall (University of Notre Dame)
Three picks and none till the fourth round guarantees you won’t have one of the more impactful drafts in the league. Philly did a nice job, though, of adding players that suit its mandate of running a tough, athletic group of Americans out the back door. Manley and Costabile are pretty big-name MLL rookies who have a good chance of contributing to the Wings’ steadily improving defence. Randall is a bit lower profile but could turn out to be the best of the lot. You could include Kyle Hartzell in Philly’s additions, as well, given that they traded a third-rounder for him shortly before the draft. C+
26. Robbie Campbell (Stony Brook University), 29. Cody Hawkins (Delta, BC), 38. Matt Hummel (Mercyhurst University), 47. Chris Attwood (St. Catharines, ON), 56. Cody McLeod (Orangeville, ON)
Another team that didn’t pick until later in the draft, Rochester took advantage of the wealth of solid defenders in the draft to grab some guys they’re high on. “It was a need of ours to shore up the back end. The first couple, Robbie Campbell and Hawkins, are going to be two good ones for us, for sure,” said Head Coach Mike Hasen. “We expect all of them, even Cody McLeod our last pick is going to be a good one. They’re going to come in and compete so it’s good on our end.”
The Knighthawks got a solid group of defenders, especially given they didn’t have a selection till the middle of the third round. Campbell’s a big-time athlete and could prove to be a steal at 26 if he chooses to commit to pro lacrosse. They also have a potential game-breaker in the enigmatic but highly-talented Attwood. B
14. Bradley Kri (Orangeville, ON), 20. Mike Lum-Walker (Whitby, ON), 25. Kyle Pereira (Brampton, ON), 27. Kyle Belton (Stony Brook University), 34. Dustin Caravello (Orangeville, ON), 43. Robert Koger (Georgetown University), 52. Tyler Glebe (London, ON)
The Rock added a big dollop of tough, gritty defensive support with Kri and Lum-Walker. Pereira’s off at school in the Maritimes for now but is an interesting prospect with size and a varied skill set that could help him crack the club eventually as a valuable utility player. The speedy Belton and the solid Caravello give Toronto a couple of options for depth on the right side. Either or both could crack the lineup and provide some energy to an offence that already has strong young talent. B+
11. Tyler Garrison (Coquitlam, BC), 12. Billy Hostrawser (Orangeville, ON), 19. Justin Pychel (Six Nations, ON), 21. Mitch Jones (Orangeville, ON), 23. Tim Henderon (Army), 30. TJ Cowx (Mars Hill), 48. Kyle Buchanan (Robert Morris University)
What a second round for a team that wanted to add an injection of youth to a defence that last year started to look like it needed a booster shot. “We’re definitely thrilled with what we got defensively without a doubt,” said GM Doug Locker. “We’re so excited to add Garrison. We were kind of sweating that one out, not knowing what would happen there and then to be able to come back and add Billy was huge.”
Among them, Garrison, Hostrawser and Pychel offer a healthy dose of truculence, tenacity and transition for the Stealth. Henderson and Cowx are both potential sleepers, either one of whom could develop into a solid NLL player. Washington’s offensive players had better make sure they’re ready for training camp, because their defenders are going to be coming in to battle hard for roster spots and won’t be making anything easy for the shooters.
Jones slid because of the three years he has left playing hockey at Northern Michigan University. Locker says they’re comfortable with the lefty O group of Lewis Ratcliff, Dean Hill, Jerome Thompson, Peter Jacobs and Cliff Smith, who is returning from an injury that cost him the second half of last year. Jones will be a nice option down the stretch the next few seasons if he’s available (when he can join them will depend on how far NMU goes in the NCAA playoffs). “And if we have to wait, we’ll wait,” Locker says. “Probably a top four or five guy that we got in the third round.”
If Buchanan winds up joining the team, he may be even more of a steal than Jones. They were able to get him at 48 because Buchanan lives in Cincinnati, where he’s coaching, and it may not be easy to work it out so he can play regularly. If he can, this is an unbelievable pick. The Stealth were so surprised to see he was still available at that point, they called the league’s draft table to make sure he hadn’t been picked and they’d somehow missed it. AStamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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