The second group of IL Indoor’s Top 50 prospects for the 2013 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft features a phalanx of transition players, which is probably the strongest position in the draft this year. There are some athletic guys who play defence but really excel when it comes to moving the ball up the floor. Then there are the D-first guys who look to take care of their own end and see transition as something to think about once you know your zone is secured. There’s also a goalie who’s put up excellent numbers over the past two Jr A seasons and the top American player in this year’s draft. Perhaps surprisingly, the American is not the same player who was drafted as a tight end by a professional football league, but he’s in here too. So there’s plenty of variety to view when you make the jump to numbers 16-30 in this year’s list.
16 – Cameron Mann – RT KW Kodiaks (MSL)
Mann is a steady, reliable defender with some wheels. He did a bit of scoring in transition with the Burlington Chiefs in Jr A, but at the major level he’s been mostly about playing in his own end and helping get the ball up the floor to the offence. Projects as a solid depth defender in the NLL. The kind of player you won’t notice much, in the good way that you don’t notice defence-first players when they’re doing their job well.
17 – Mitch Wilde RT KW Kodiaks (MSL)
Uses his big body well to play an in-your-face, physical game. Wilde is a good defender who will need some work on the technical defending side of his game, but has shown he’s an enthusiastic and coachable player who wants to contain opponents’ top scoring threats. He also has the speed and stick skills to contribute in transition.
18 – Zach Palmer LF Whitby Warriors (OLA Jr A)
Palmer’s a difficult prospect to project because he hasn’t played a ton of indoor lacrosse over the last couple of years. But he’s a talented lefty in a draft with a dearth of those, and he put up 84 points in his last full Jr A season. The problem is that that season was in 2010. That leaves an awfully long stretch without much time in the box to gauge him on. Someone will take a chance on Palmer and it may well work out for them.
19 – Tyler Digby – RF Burnaby Lakers
Digby has power forward written all over him. He’s a 6′5”, 240 pound college football tight end who was drafted by the Ottawa RedBlacks of the Canadian Football League. He’s got offensive talent, having scored 89 and 94 points in his last two seasons of Jr A lacrosse. He hasn’t exactly flourished in the WLA yet, scoring 23 points in 15 games with the Lakers this summer. But that combination of size and skill is awfully hard to overlook.
20 – Adrian Sorichetti – LT Brooklin Redmen (MSL)
Sorichetti has been viewed for years as a likely first-round pick and he could still go much higher than this ranking. He’s a spectacularly athletic player who has plenty of admirers around the league. But he had a difficult summer in Brooklin and was a scratch for most of the MSL playoffs. The challenge for Sorichetti will be to readjust to indoor lacrosse. He played only 32 games of Jr A lacrosse, finishing his career in 2011 with a Minto Cup with the Whitby Warriors, and got into only a half dozen games with the Redmen this summer. Doesn’t project to score a lot but can use his speed to get the ball out of the defensive zone.
21 – Karsen Leung – RT Victoria Shamrocks (WLA)
There’s nothing quite like playing in a Mann Cup right before your NLL draft to give pro GMs and coaches a chance to see how you perform under pressure against top-flight competition. Leung has shown flashes of brilliance during Victoria’s quest for a Canadian championship. Normally a forward, Leung was thrust largely into a transition role for the Shamrocks this season after scoring 45 points in 10 games as a rookie in 2012. His adroit passing has paid off in some quality scoring chances for Victoria’s transition crew at the Mann. He’s also an excellent penalty killer, although that side of the game doesn’t translate much to the NLL, since the pro league runs the shot clock during penalties. Leung should have a strong chance to earn a roster spot right away and can bring skill and versatility to the table for whoever drafts him.
22 – Keegan Bal – RT/F New Westminster Salmonbellies (WLA)
Had an excellent season with the Bellies, scoring 55 points (17 goals, 38 assists). That almost topped his highest-scoring Jr A season, when he scored 57 points in 2012. Bal is a talented player who will likely need to add some muscle to find continued success. One thing working against him in this draft is the word on the street that he is going to Europe for a year.
23 – Rob Pannell – RF Cornell University (NCAA Division 1)
The three-time first-team All American won the Tewaaraton Award for top player in US college lacrosse in 2013. He followed that up with MLL rookie of the year honours. Pannell is also the all-time leading Division 1 scoring leader. He’s clearly extremely talented. The question, as with anyone coming to the pro box game with only field experience, is how well will he be able to adjust to the smaller net, closer confines and more physical play. Can he turn into the next Casey Powell? It’s a lot to ask, but Pannell appears to have the talent to succeed indoors. It’s just a matter of time to see whether he does.
24 – Kevin Neufeld – LD Coquitlam Adanacs (BCJALL)
Big, physical, experience in a well-run, winning program in Coquitlam and with a mean streak that serves him well on the floor, Neufeld has the tools to be a solid depth defender who can make opposing forwards think before they head to the middle of the floor.
25 – Mark White – RT Brampton Excelsiors (MSL)
White had a very good rookie year with the Excelsiors. He particularly stood out early, when the young club was struggling to find its identity and to compete with the more established teams in the league. He runs the floor well and has decent hands when he gets a breakaway, which happens fairly often because of his combination of speed and a sense of when to break out for an outlet pass. White played all 20 games for Brampton this summer and showed that he belongs at that level of lacrosse. He still needs to work on his one-on-one defence and could stand to be more physical, but he has the tools to develop into a quality transition defender.
26 – Tucker Durkin – RD Hamilton Nationals (MLL)
Playing the MLL season with the Nationals gave Durkin a chance to impress a number of NLL players and he took advantage of that chance. Durkin was a First Team All American his last two years at Johns Hopkins. He’s big, strong and knows the art of defence, at least on the field side of the game. There is plenty of precedent for American defenders making the transition to the indoor game smoothly over the past handful of years and Durkin stands a good chance of being the next one in that line.
27 – Don Alton – G Six Nations Arrows (OLA Jr A)
Alton has split time pretty evenly with 2012 OLA Jr A goalie of the year Warren Hill over the past couple of seasons and has always held up his end of the partnership. In 2013, Alton allowed just 5.81 goals against per game while posting a 9-1 record and .791 save percentage. He has proved to be a reliable option for the Arrows and is hoping to be the same for an NLL team.
28 – Mike Woods – RT Oakville Rock (MSL)
Woods was a revelation with the Oakville Rock this summer. The Newmarket native played three seasons of Jr A ball with Orillia and Barrie before switching over to Jr B with his hometown Saints while he was going to school at the University of Albany during the winter. He played two partial seasons with Newmarket, putting up 32 points in an 8-game stint in 2010. But he was pretty much a no name when he came to the Rock. That didn’t last long. He made an impression with his gritty defence and quickness at getting the ball up the floor to the offensive players. He chipped in 5 goals and 5 assists in 16 games.
29 – Jake Hayes – LF Brooklin Redmen (MSL)
A shift little lefty forward, the Calgary native scored 179 points in 74 games with the Okotoks Raiders Jr A team then had a solid Sr B summer in 2012, scoring 36 points in 11 games. This summer he made the unusual jump of going from a lower level in Alberta to the top of the food chain in Ontario. Playing with the star-studded Redmen offence, Hayes showed a knack for working off ball and finding spaces where he could receive passes. He can shoot from various stick angles and provided some nice secondary scoring for Brooklin.
30 – Cody McMahon – LT/F Orangeville Northmen (OLA Jr A)
A year ago we had McMahon listed at 37 when he declared early for the NLL Entry Draft but he went unselected. This year, in a draft that isn’t as deep, he bumps up to number 30. He produced points at almost exactly the same rate as last year, putting up about 3 per game to finish third on the team with 58 points from 13 goals and 45 assists. As we said last year, McMahon plays like he doesn’t realize he’s a bit undersized and has the lacrosse IQ to play any role a team needs him to.
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