The quality of players in the National Lacrosse League has never been higher. That’s pretty much accepted wisdom in these days of the nine-team league where the competition for roster spots is heated and ongoing. So many good players for so few teams means there are lots of very good players not in the league. Here at IL Indoor we love a good lacrosse debate as much as the next person, so we’re going to kick one off here. Of all the players not in the NLL right now, who is the best one? It’s a tough call, but we’ll work our way through our 12 top candidates, letting you pick who will move on through this tournament each week. After the jump, see the seedings and make your first selections.
To be considered, a player must have been on a roster when last season closed and must be eligible to have been so. That means no current draft picks or players who haven’t yet gone into the draft: it wouldn’t be much much of a competition if Mark Matthews was in it. You’ll notice that many of the players in the list are signed to contracts with NLL teams; that’s a necessity for a player to go to camp and, naturally, as the best players not in the league most of these guys have been invited to one or more camps. But they haven’t made a team yet.
Without further ado, our 12 candidates in order of their seeding:
1. Jesse Guerin
2. Colin Boucher
3. Jerome Thompson
4. Brad Favero
5. Ian Poole
6. Ryan Campbell
7. Dylan Llord
8. Mitch Barnard
9. Scotty Komer
10. Ben McCullough
11. Ryan Hotaling
12. Travis Bland
The top four seeds receive a bye to the second round, so our first order of business is to decide who’ll be facing them. We’ll kick things off with the 8 vs 9 seeds battling to see who gets the unenviable task of facing Guerin in the quarter-finals.
Mitch Barnard (8) vs Scotty Komer (9)
Barnard was an unknown before the NLL combine. The lefty transition player plied his trade in the Quebec Sr B league and was a faceoff specialist and midfielder for Adrian College. He opened eyes at the combine when he was the top-rated player in the fitness testing. He then opened them wider when he scored five goals in the scrimmage. He didn’t do enough to convince anyone to draft him the next night, but he did earn invitations to a pair of training camps (Buffalo and Washington).
Komer has been a solid goalie for a while and is on the verge of finally breaking into the pro league. He’s played Sr B in Ontario and was a standout with the Peel Avengers in CLax. Now he’s heading to Philadelphia Wings camp with a reasonable chance to earn the backup role behind Brandon Miller.
Choose the first round winner.
- Scotty Komer (72%, 1,860 Votes)
- Mitch Barnard (28%, 728 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,588
Ian Poole (5) vs Travis Bland (12)
Poole is an excellent faceoff guy, a sturdy defender and a surprisingly agile transition presence given his big frame. He rose to prominence with a stellar Mann Cup for the Langley Thunder. Poole missed the first game for the birth of his baby then jetted to Ontario for the rest of the series. He showed a sound and consistent defensive game and won 60.5% of his faceoffs against Peterborough’s duo of Andrew Suitor and Jordan MacIntosh.
Bland is a lacrosse junkie who was second on the Ajax Rock in scoring last summer (behind Guerin) with 13 goals and 14 assists in 13 games, is the leading scorer for the Reading Rockets of the Professional Lacrosse League and was the second overall choice in the recent North American Lacrosse League draft. He’s a talented righty forward who can score goals but is even more adept at setting plays up.
Choose the first round winner.
- Ian Poole (82%, 2,089 Votes)
- Travis Bland (18%, 446 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,535
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