WLA Draft preview: Talent is deep on both sides of ball, so who goes with No. 1 pick?

If Jesse King's Junior numbers weren't impressive enough, his Mann Cup performance was. (Photo: Victoria Shamrocks)
If Jesse King's Junior numbers weren't impressive enough, his Mann Cup performance was. (Photo: Victoria Shamrocks)

After last weekend’s B.C. Jr. A Lacrosse League draft, the eight junior teams stacked up their rosters for the 2014 season and started the process of moving on without their graduating players. Now it’s time to see where many of those 1992 born players will end up for the upcoming Western Lacrosse Association season as the WLA draft will take place at Langley Events Centre on Thursday, February 6. The Coquitlam Adanacs hold the first overall pick in this years draft and they have numerous options moving forward into 2014. The A’s also hold the fourth overall pick so they will be adding two top level rookies to the roster. The talent pool is very top heavy with this year’s draft class but with 2014 being an eastern Mann Cup year, it could very well be a year for some of these top prospects to make a real impact.

After the Adanacs select first, the New Westminster Salmonbellies will be on the clock followed by the Maple Ridge Burrards and then the Adanacs and Salmonbellies again. In the sixth and seventh spots are the two islands teams, Victoria and Nanaimo respectively. Now this is where we may see some shake ups (although unlikely) as two of the top prospects are island players Jesse King and Brodie Eastwood.

Who knows, maybe the mainland teams will play nice and only select mainland graduating juniors but the odds of that happening aren’t exactly high. After the performance King had during the 2013 Mann Cup for the Shamrocks, he’s expected to be a top pick but then again, mainland teams are often wary of taking island players and ultimately vice-versa.

The Juan de Fuca straight, separating Vancouver Island from the mainland has been a huge hinderance in the WLA for many reasons but lacrosse is a business and in the business of winning you must do what you can to make your team better. Therefore don’t hold your breath Island fans, King and Eastwood could be scooped up by the mainland teams and use them to their advantage or hold them for top dollar.

After speaking with a few WLA and BCJALL GMs and Head Coaches, we give to you the top prospects for next week’s draft as the WLA’s future get’s ready to hear their name called.

Jesse King, Victoria Shamrocks: If you didn’t know who King was before the 2013 Mann Cup, you certainly did after game 1. King didn’t get a chance to play up during the regular season but once his Jr Rocks were eliminated he made an immediate impact with the big club. However it was the Mann Cup where he made his mark scoring a natural hat trick in game 1 including a jaw-dropping behind-the-back game winner that shot his stock through the roof. King is a tall athletic left-hander that has a deadly accurate outside shot and isn’t afraid to get to the front of the net and into the dirty areas.

Jesse showed his true colors in the Mann Cup. If I were a WLA GM Jessie King would go No. 1, no question. Paul Gait size and strength, great inside/outside game, creative and clutch.

Tyler Garrison, Coquitlam Adanacs: In his second year with the Vancouver Stealth of the NLL, Garrison may be the most WLA-ready pure defender available in the draft. He’ll join a long list of recent Coquitlam Jr. A captains to go high in the WLA draft that already has NLL experience (Beers, T. Cornwall). A big, agile, gritty defender, Garrison has a great knack for knowing where the ball is going and when to push the tempo. Playing in the Stealth system will make him an immediate starter for any WLA team from day one. His winning pedigree, much like his predecessors of Adanacs’ captains, gives him an edge every GM looks for in a future leader.

Best defender in the draft, transitions the ball very well and takes charge in the backend.

Frankie Scigliano, New Westminster Salmonbellies: Big Frankie has been in the NLL almost as long as he’s playing Jr. A lacrosse and he’s had WLA GMs chomping at the bit waiting for him to graduate. A monster of a young man, surprisingly, he’s not the biggest prospect out there but for a goalie with his experience it would be surprising to see him fall out of the top five. However, don’t let his size fool you. For an angle goalie, Scigs is quite mobile with the ability to get post to post, in position to make the save and still outlet the ball on a rope up the floor. There are a few teams who would love to have him in between the pipes in 2014 and with already 30-plus NLL appearances, he’s already got the experience that will help him adjust to the big nets and speed of the WLA.

Very good young goalie who played four years of Junior A with the Bellies and has NLL experience the last two seasons with Calgary. He’s also played in two Minto Cups, giving him some valuable big game experience.

Sean Lundstrom, Langley Thunder: After only playing fives games in 2012, Lundstrom put up career numbers in both assists and points to lead the Jr. Thunder to their best season in club history. A current practice squad member of the Vancouver Stealth, Lundstrom is getting some very valuable experience this winter with the big club that will benefit him come this summer when he should be an opening day starter in the WLA. A big left-handed shooter, he can be used in a variety of roles either in transition or up front. A smart shooter with soft hands who sees the floor well, his best asset could very well be his conditioning that is extremely coveted by WLA teams.

A great outside shooter with soft hands who sees the floor well. Needs to work on his inside game and could add some grittiness but what he lacks in those areas can be made up with his fitness.

Brodie Eastwood, Victoria Shamrocks: Eastwood, like his Victoria teammate King, got some very valuable experience in the Mann Cup this summer before having to head back to college in the U.S. but he made the most of his playing time to raise his value for this year’s draft. One of the things that makes Eastwood so valuable is his play off the ball. Even as one of the top threats on the Jr. Rocks, Eastwood was often the guy banging bodies inside to create space for King. An incredible first step and a mind like a sponge.

A great player that makes everyone around him better. A classy leader who plays with a nasty, tough edge to his game and not afraid to get his nose dirty. A very dangerous sniper.

Reid Reinholdt, Coquitlam Adanacs: A player that may get lost in the shuffle of some of the top picks, he could be one of the best heart and soul guys in the top group of prospects. A team-first first player who has incredible lacrosse IQ and a very mature playing style. Much like his older brother Tor, Reid possesses a natural gift for the transition game that will fit into any WLA system.

A talented and smart left-hander with good hands and can finish in close. His fitness is top level and can run in transition. Team-oriented kid who plays for the front of the jersey and not the back.

Brandon Bull, Langley Thunder: With a great lacrosse name like Bull, it should be no surprise that he’ll be a very coveted top pick in this year’s draft. Very athletic big man that has really bought into the Thunder system and was a constant for them over the past three seasons. Bull may not be the most gifted offensive threat but much like Reinholdt, his ability to play both sides of the ball and run incredibly well in transition make him incredibly valuable.

-A power forward with the ability to shoot on the run. Physical specimen that can take face-offs and can easily play transition in the WLA


Those are just some of the names but there’s many many more and just because we like to be thorough, here’s a brief bio on some of them.

Chris Wardle, Victoria Shamrocks: Left-handed forward who can play both ends of the floor. Unselfish natural leader with 162 points in 63 Jr. A Games including playoffs. An incredible 34.3% career shooting percentage.

Brandan Smith, Victoria Shamrocks : Right-handed punishing defender who does not back down from anyone.

Devon Casey, Victoria Shamrocks: Right-handed forward who can score goals but has a very good ability to set players up. 171 points in 52 Jr. A games

Dane Schoor, Victoria Shamrocks: Right-handed forward with 175 Points in 63 Jr. A games.

Dan McDermott, Langley Thunder: A stay-at-home defender with great range and speed who can get up the floor and chip in a few points. Should be a defender who could have a great career in the WLA.

Ben Snider, Delta Islanders: Another rugged stay-home defender who was drafted by the Edmonton Rush. Could make a team out of camp but needs to work on foot speed.

Steven Neufeld, Coquitlam Adanacs: The biggest prospect in this year’s draft, Neuf is 6-foot-8 and has slick hands for a big man. Size and hands could easily translate in to one the best future assets from this draft class. A team=first player with smart lax IQ and a character guy.

Vinni Ricci, Coquitlam Adanacs: A heart-and-soul player who never takes a shift off. Fearless and nasty, he’s also a gifted scorer who plays in the hard areas and can score big goals.

Matt Delmonico, Coquitlam Adanacs: A late acquisition by the Adanacs, Delmonico is a very versatile player who spent most of his career in the Port Coquitlam system. Can put up decent offensive numbers and can be used in a few different roles.

Daniel Perreault, New Westminster Salmonbellies: A hard working defender who plays with grit and can put up good numbers playing transition. Led the league in won face-off percentage.

Brendan Rouse, New Westminster Salmonbellies: Solid defender, nothing flashy but very reliable stay-at-home defender.

Nick Stone, Langley Thunder: The captain for the Thunder, Stone is a loose ball machine that plays both ends but is most comfortable finishing on the crease.

The 2014 WLA draft gets going this Thursday from the Langley Events Centre and will be made available via live web-stream at 6:45 p.m. PST.

Stay tuned to IL Indoor as we’ll have a complete recap of the draft including every pick and trade made before during and after the big event.

Teddy Jenner is one the leading sources for lacrosse information. He comes by his love of lax honestly with a lifetime of experience, two Mann Cup championships and six years of play in the NLL. Email him at ted.jenner@ilindoor.com, follow him on Twitter @OffTheCrosseBar or catch him on Team 1410 radio in Vancouver, B.C., as the host and producer of the Off the Crosse-Bar Radio Show In 2012, he was awarded the BCLA's Norm Wright Merit Award- handed out to a member of the media deemed to have have contributed to the promotion of lacrosse.

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