Now we reach the cream of the crop of prospects for the 2013 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft. This draft is not quite as strong as last year’s very deep talent distribution exercise, nor is it as strong as the remarkable drafts coming up in 2014 and especially in 2015. But there is talent to be had, with some sure fire first-round calibre players followed by lots of guys who could go anywhere from late-first round to the third or even fourth round. Today’s instalment has the top 15 prospects we’ve identified, plus a little bonus: a couple of players who declared for the draft after we had already published the 31-50 and 16-30 lists. Peter Dubenski becomes the third-rated goalie and Reid Mydske fits in among the plethora of defenders looking to find a home in the NLL. Make the jump to see how we rate the best of the best for the 2013 NLL draft.
1 – Logan Schuss – LF New Westminster Salmonbellies (WLA)
Because of his school commitments at Ohio State, Schuss never did play a full Jr A season with the Delta Islanders. He played just 12, 9, 9 and 9 games between 2009 and 2012. Therefore, he didn’t put up the 100-plus point seasons that can grab lots of attention. But he averaged five and a half points per game for his career and was always a dominant force. The 6′, 215-pound forward barely slowed his pace upon reaching the WLA, posting a 29/27/56 line in just 12 games. Schuss is big, strong, talented, a team player and shoots left-handed. He’s an elite talent with strong character. Not much more you could ask for in a top pick.
2 – Jason Noble – LD Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks (MSL)
If you wanted to make a selection on the other side of the ball with the top choice, though, you’d find it difficult to uncover a more perfect candidate than Jason Noble. The only knock on him is his size. It doesn’t take long watching him, though, to realize that it’s not an issue. Noble won three Minto Cups with the Orangeville Northmen and was a key contributor to all of them. He was named the OLA Jr A defender of the year in 2012 and went second overall (behind his twin brother Jeremy) in the 2013 MSL draft. Noble is shockingly strong for his size, has impeccable footwork, is super fast and hits full speed in just a few steps. He also has tremendous character and leadership. Within a few games of joining the Kodiaks, he was arguably their best defender and transition player. He’s the kind of player that, if you didn’t choose him when you had the chance, you’d kick yourself for years.
3 – Robert Church – RF Burnaby Lakers (WLA)
Church did get a full season in the BCJALL and he did post the eye-popping 100-plus point total. And he did it when he was only 17. He was named MVP as his Coquitlam Adanacs won the Minto Cup in 2010 and has continued to be a consistent contributor since then, both at the junior and now senior level. Fitness and health are concerns with Church; if he can improve the former, the latter will probably follow, making him a more durable and ultimately more successful player. He’s a high percentage shooter and intelligent passer who can help make the offensive players around him better.
4 – Tor Reinholdt – LT Langley Thunder (WLA)
His coming out party was the 2012 Mann Cup, when he showed off his tenacity, speed and stick skills in the Thunder’s loss to the Peterborough Lakers. His numbers were off a bit this summer as he played only 11 games and posted 11 points, but Reinholdt has shown what he can do over his career. He was a key contributor to that 2010 Minto championship team with Church. His athleticism is among the best in the draft and he shows a high lacrosse IQ.
5 – Dillon Ward – G Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks (MSL)
It’s unusual for a goalie to be ranked this high. Like Evan Kirk, who went sixth to Minnesota two years ago, Ward is ready to step in at the pro level and be a contributor right away. Showing a knack for being at his best when the games are the biggest, Ward went on an 11-2 run with a 5.59 goals against average and .851 save percentage en rout to the 2012 Minto Cup, where he was named MVP. He served as Mike Poulin’s backup in KW this summer but was effective every time he got a chance to play. He went 4-2 with an 8.44 goals against average and .810 save percentage, all above average numbers in an MSL full of offensive talent.
6 – Cody Bremner – LF Nanaimo Timbermen (WLA)
The late entrant in the draft will create a trickle-down effect by parachuting into the early to middle first round. Lefty offensive players are in high demand, so he may go even higher than his tremendous talent and drive would dictate. Bremner was the rookie of the year in the WLA in 2012 after finished fourth in the scoring race with 24 goals and 45 assists for 69 points. He maintained the same pace this year but with more of an emphasis on goals, totally 28 to go along with 26 assists for 54 points in only 14 games. Having demonstrated that he can play with men in two full WLA seasons, Bremner is clearly ready to have an impact in the NLL.
7 – Scott Jones – RF Burnaby Lakers (WLA)
The last sentence about Bremner also applies to Jones. The righty even followed the same scoring trajectory of more assists in 2012 but increased goal scoring in 2013, when he potted 27 to go with 38 assists for 65 points. Jones is a 6′5”, 210-pound power forward with talent, drive and a team approach to the game. He should fit seamlessly into the roster of whatever team selects him both as a player and as a teammate.
8 – Ethan O’Connor – RT Brampton Excelsiors (MSL)
O’Connor started the MSL season as a quality prospect and just got better and better as the summer went on. He wound up scoring almost a point per game, with 9 goals and 7 assists in 19 games with the Excelsiors. More importantly, he showed improving defensive awareness to go with his strong sense of when to take off for transition opportunities. O’Connor can run and he can shoot. He is a solid defensive player, although he could stand to get a little meaner in his own end. At 6′1”, 180 pounds, he will probably need to add some muscle to continue to improve both in MSL and when he reaches the NLL. O’Connor’s best asset is probably his lacrosse IQ. He makes good decisions and learns from the mistakes he makes.
9 – Cameron Flint – RT Boston Cannons (MLL)
Flint is similar to O’Connor in that he’s athletic and knows the game. Some observers will think he belongs ahead of O’Connor based on his athleticism and what he’s done in the past, both in Jr A with the Brampton Excelsiors and in field lacrosse. The counter point is that he just hasn’t played a lot of box lacrosse lately. He could go anywhere in the draft from third to somewhere in the second round, although it’s most likely somebody grabs him fairly early, enticed by his potential.
10 – AJ Masson – LF/T Oakville Rock (MSL)
Masson is a talented player, but he won’t wow you with his skills. He will, however, impress you with is hard work, vision and lacrosse smarts. The Orangeville grad came up through junior playing primarily a transition role. He did a good job of it, helping the Northmen to the 2012 Minto title. This summer he was asked to play offence by the Oakville Rock, and he made steady improvements as the season went on. Masson scored 34 points (15g, 19a) as a complementary player to main man Stephan Leblanc. When needed, though, Masson showed that the offence could flow through him effectively. His versatility will be appealing with the reduced roster sizes coming into effect in 2014.
11 – Nick Weiss – RT Peterborough Lakers (OLA Jr A)
Weiss is a D-first transition player who plays an aggressive, in-your-face style. He’s strong for his size (6′2”, 190 pounds) but will need to grow into his frame to reach his full potential, which is sizeable. He shows an excellent sense of when to take off up the floor and when to hand the ball off and take a right turn to the bench. Weiss has good enough vision and passing skills that he can stay out for a shift on offence now and then and not look out of place. His feistiness only adds to his overall package.
12 – Jordan Houtby – RD Brooklin Redmen (MSL)
Houtby is an example of a player who benefited greatly from going to college in the US (University of Detroit) while continuing to play summer lacrosse in Canada. He was a solid defender for St. Catharines in Jr A before being dealt to Whitby as the Warriors prepared to play host to the 2012 Minto Cup. His role with the Brooklin Redmen grew this summer as his confidence and his game developed. By the end of his rookie season this August, he was being trusted to take a regular shift when the Redmen were shorthanded and when they were trying to get the ball back while on the power play defence. He’s aggressive but doesn’t take many bad penalties. His footwork and quickness allow him to play good one-on-one D and he showed this summer that he has a good sense for the team game.
13 – Nick Diachenko – RT Brooklin Redmen (MSL)
Houtby’s teammate is a fabulous athlete. He’s also developing as a solid defensive player. He will likely be selected higher than this ranking because of that athleticism; when he takes off with or after the ball, his feet barely seem to touch the ground. We’ve got him at lucky number 13, though, because he hasn’t played a lot of box lacrosse over the last few years—he got into just 6 regular season games with Brooklin and was a healthy scratch frequently. He played pretty regularly in the MSL playoffs and was at his best when he focused on playing rugged defence, which he can do quite well, and let his speed make up for not getting an early jump when taking off after loose balls or heading up the floor when he’s snagged one.
14 – Riley Loewen – LF Maple Ridge Burrards (WLA)
Lefty forwards are always in demand, so Loewen will get a close look from teams that could use some help on that side. He’s another player with a couple of years of major experience that show he can play with the big boys. Loewen scored 45 points in 2012 then 33 this year. He scored 48 goals with Burnaby in Jr A in 2009. Listed at 6′1”, 190 pounds, he’s another young player that may need to add some muscle to reach new heights with his game.
15 – Reid Acton – RD Six Nations Chiefs (MSL)
Acton is big and strong and not afraid to throw his weight around. He prides himself on playing an aggressive style, characterizing his game as “mean” in his IL Indoor draft profile. He’s not just a lummox on the floor, though. He knows how to play lacrosse, communicates well and should be able to handle the demands of the pro game. He’s another high-calibre player who will have to overcome not having played a lot of box recently, but he did get into a handful of games with the Chiefs this summer.
Renunciation list additions
28a – Peter Dubenski – G Coquitlam Adanacs
Posted an .838 save percentage in 8 playoff games with Coquitlam after taking a few regular season contests to get comfortable with the team when he was acquired from Nanaimo. Dubenski has consistently put up solid numbers with a trio of Jr A teams (Delta Islanders are the the third). At 5′11”, 210 pounds he’s not a huge goalie but he plays the angles well and is agile.
33a – Reid Mydske – LD New Westminster Salmonbellies
Mydske is a Bellie through and through. He grew up in New Westminster, played his entire junior career with the team then graduated to the major club for 2013. He’s a big stay at home defender. Scored 33 points and collected 122 penalty minutes in 66 Jr A games. Will need to improve his footwork and quickness to step his game up to the next level, but he is a solid worker who could become a depth defender by using his size to his advantage.
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