Depth of young, quality talent is making for difficult decisions in tonight’s WLA draft

The all-around game of Coquitlam's Matthew Dinsdale could make him a high WLA draft pick. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)
The all-around game of Coquitlam's Matthew Dinsdale could make him a high WLA draft pick. (Photo: Ward Laforme Jr.)

An odd theme is developing in anticipation of tonight’s Western Lacrosse Association draft. There is talent, to be sure. Lots of it. But what’s making this draft unique is that there really is no clear-cut choice to be the No. 1 overall pick when the Maple Ridge Burrards get the draft started in Langley. “The first two rounds we project as being pretty rich, and we have three good chances to add some immediate punch to our lineup,” Coquitlam Adanacs general manager Randy Delmonico told Coquitlam Now. “There’s no shortage of talent, that’s for sure.” Logan Schuss, Matthew Dinsdale, Jeff Cornwall, Ben McIntosh, Robert Church and Mike Mallory are the popular names to throw out as high draft picks, but WLA teams also are being cautious of players who have NCAA eligibility and possible MLL commitments, which could interfere with their desire and/or ability to play WLA ball.

Schuss, a 6-foot left-hander with the Delta Islanders, certainly has the skill to be the No. 1 overall pick. But he’s still got a senior season at Ohio State to play and he was a draft pick of the MLL’s Ohio Machine. If he decides to play pro field lacrosse, will the Burrards use a top pick on a player who could only be a part-timer?

That won’t be an easy decision to make for the Burrards, because even if he is a part-time player, he might be worth it. Schuss played just 9 BCJALL games in the 2012 regular season for the Islanders, but still managed to drop an astounding 65 points (31 goals, 34 assists). In 10 playoff games, he carded 53 points (27-26) for Delta. He’s a left-hander too, making him even more valuable.

“This draft has great top end offensive players,” Delta Islanders coach Shaun Springett told the Delta Optimist. “When you look at what Logan did up here in limited time, that’s a special talent. He is the only lefty of the group so it could be the difference too if that’s what a team is looking for.”

Dinsdale, Church and McIntosh have been a big part of the core in Coquitlam that’s been so successful the last few seasons. Dinsdale was the BCJALL’s top scorer last summer with 95 points (38-57). Church played just 9 regular-season games in Coquitlam, but took charge in the 8 playoff games he played in, leading the team with 48 points (21-27) and has established himself as one of the game’s best offensive leaders with the way he can set the pace. McIntosh also played just 9 regular-season games but dropped 31 points in 8 playoff games and has a rep for his work in the dirty spots. Will he join older brother Garrett in Maple Ridge?

Church (a senior) and McIntosh (a junior) are getting ready for the spring season as teammate at Drexel University.

ILIndoor’s Brad Challoner said last August that Dinsdale may be the most complete player available in the draft. He led the BCJALL in the regular season with 95 points (38-57). He was hurt early in the playoffs and didn’t play much, but appears to have recovered well enough to earn regular playing time in his rookie NLL season with the Calgary Roughnecks.

Another Coquitlam product, Jeff Cornwall, is as steady as it gets as a defender and will have 2 NLL seasons with the Edmonton Rush under his belt to bring to the WLA team that selects him. He’s got speed to go with his size (6-3, 220) and he’s coming into the NLL with plenty of experience so he won’t be playing like a rookie.

But Dinsdale, Church and McIntosh aren’t alone as the top right-handed prospects. Another Delta product, Mike Mallory, led the Islanders with 74 points (35-39) in the regular season to earn MVP honors for the BCJALL. He added 51 points (24-27) in 10 playoff games before ending his Junior A career. He’s currently in his second NLL season as a practice player for the Washington Stealth, who drafted him in the third round in 2011.

Cody Hawkins (Delta) and Reid Mydske (New Westminster) are defenders that could hear their name called early in a draft that will continue well after these names, or others, are drawn. Because if there is one constant in this 2013 draft class, it’s that the talent is deep and it’s spread around.

“The draft doesn’t end for us after the first round; it gets going,” New West GM Dan Richardson told the Royal City Record.

Defenders will be watched closely by the Nanaimo Timbermen because GM Earl Nicholson said offense shouldn’t be a problem. Especially after the contributions of their top pick from last summer, Cody Bremner, and his being named WLA Rookie of the Year. And even though Nicholson and the T-Men don’t have a pick until the third round, they’re looking to deepen their defensive ranks.

“We don’t have a problem putting the ball in the net, it’s keeping it out of our own end that we’ve still got some areas to fill,” he told the Nanaimo News Bulletin.

Brandon Goodwin, who was captain in New West, is a lefty forward that could sneak up past everyone as a top pick, especially with the Senior Bellies holding picks at the No. 2 and No. 3 slots.

There are plenty of questions heading into tonight’s WLA draft, but the biggest one — which team will pick which player — won’t be answered until each pick is made. And after that, it’s anybody’s guess.

You can watch the draft from the WLA website, or follow it on the league’s Twitter account.

WLA 2013 draft order
Round 1

1. Maple Ridge
2. New Westminster
3. New Westminster
4. Burnaby
5. Coquitlam
6. Burnaby
7. Langley

Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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