NLL 2019 Offseason Preview

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Photo Courtesy of Calgary Roughnecks                                                                                                           

The 2019 NLL season is over and the Calgary Roughnecks are the reigning champions. While the season may be over there is still a lot of action happening around the league this offseason, just like late year. 

During the offseason the expansion draft and entry draft will take place, and NLL free agency will start up at the end of the summer as always. The dates for all of these events have already been set and the offseason is ready to get rolling. 

Expansion Draft

It will be the second year in a row that the league will have an expansion draft with two new teams coming in next year. This year’s expansion draft will feature the New York Riptide and the Rochester Knighthawks.

Just for some clarity, Rochester has an expansion team since the old Knighthawks are moving to Halifax. Confusing enough for you?

Rochester will have the first pick in the expansion draft since New York won the coin flip and elected to take the first pick in the entry draft, doing exactly what San Diego did last year. The coin toss was conducted at halftime of game one of the NLL finals between Buffalo and Calgary. 

In the expansion draft each existing team can protect eleven players. Teams can’t protect more than five forwards and one goalie. However, teams can protect an unlimited amount of defensemen. The deadline for teams to release their protected player list is June 25th. Each team will lose two players in the expansion draft. 

A few things to keep in mind regarding protected player lists and the expansion draft is whether or not a player is going to be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) and geography. If a player is set to become a UFA two weeks after the draft then their chances of being protected by their current team diminish. 

Also, this year’s expansion draft features two teams that are in the East. That is much different from last year where we saw San Diego take mostly western guys while Philadelphia took eastern based players. It will be interesting to see how the geographical situations play out this time around. 

Free Agency

NLL Free Agency starts on August 1st at midnight ET. We saw San Diego take full advantage of that last season, sining many guys in the early morning hours on the east coast. 

A player can sign with his current team before the August 1st deadline, and teams can make qualifying offers and slap the franchise tag on players as well. Once that August 1st deadline hits free agency is open and anybody can talk to UFA’s.

UFA’s are usually players that are at least 30 years old and have expiring contracts, but this isn’t always the case. If a player is 34 or older they can reject being franchise tagged as well. Also, if a team loses a UFA to another team they may be eligible to get a compensatory draft pick the following season. 

Restricted Free Agents are just that, restricted. A RFA can sign an offer sheet from another franchise, but their current franchise has 72 hours to match the offer. 

While the NLL doesn’t keep a public list of player contracts, there are a few lists out there. Marisa Ingemi does a great job of keeping an NLL contract list and it’s pretty up to date. 

Entry Draft

The NLL entry draft is where the league welcomes in the future stars of the game. This year’s entry draft is set for September 17th. A site for the 2019 NLL entry draft has set to be announced. An announcement should come later in the summer. 

New York will have the first pick in the entry draft. New York won the coin flip and elected to take the first pick in the entry draft, doing exactly what San Diego did last year. The coin toss was conducted at halftime of game one of the NLL finals between Buffalo and Calgary. 

With New York having the first pick, Rochester will have the second pick in the entry draft. 

Some of the top NLL prospects include forwards Clarke Petterson and Tyson Gibson, defenseman Ryland Rees, and others. 

Expansion

As we have seen over the past two seasons, the league has announced future expansion franchises in the offseason. While nothing is for sure yet there could be one or two expansion franchises announced sometime this offseason. A  four of the most recent expansion franchises were announced in the fall, so bet on it being around that time. 

Some cities that have been rumored are San Francisco and Edmonton with the Golden State Warriors ownership and Edmonton Oilers ownership being linked to those expansion rumors. 

While fans hope that there is more expansion over the next year, only time will tell if that is the case.

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