While the name is still the same, it’s a new era in Rochester as the Knighthawks took the first step in building their roster with the NLL Expansion Draft on Tuesday afternoon. The Expansion Draft saw both Rochester and New York make eleven selections to start building and put an inaugural roster in place.
Rochester seemed to be the more active team during the expansion draft as they made a few deals, conversed more, and even took a five-minute timeout at one point. While it was a little different operation than we may be used to seeing from teams during the expansion draft, Dan Carey, Knighthawks GM, certainly had a plan in place and a reason for every move.
In terms of trades, Rochester traded Chris Wardle back to Colorado in exchange for defenseman Julian Garritano and forward Mike Mallory. They then traded Mallory to Vancouver for defenseman Travis Burton and a second-round pick in 2020.
This initial Knighthawks roster seems to be built with a lot of offensive fire power in mind. For starters, they took two-time NLL MVP Shawn Evans with the first pick and then got lefty sharpshooter Holden Cattoni with their second pick. In addition, Rochester also got two guys in Dan Litner and Curtis Knight that can certainly put the ball in the back of the net, but haven’t always been known as “go-to” players in this league. The core of this offense is very solid and exactly what you want to build around as an expansion team.
Rochester might have also made the smartest expansion draft move in NLL history by getting two goalies in Rylan Hartley and Steve Fryer. Both guys have the talent to start in this league, but Fryer may get the nod this season as he looked like a seasoned starter last season in Colorado when he had to step in and take over. Hartley still has some growing to do, but being in the same room with someone of Fryer’s professionalism on-and-off the floor is certainly a huge plus.
They also made a splash with the talent they were able to get to put out in front of the net. While Shane Simpson and Matthew Bennett may not be the most polished defenders in game they are certainly difference makes and can fit into a multitude of different systems. Also, the acquisitions of Julian Garritano and Travis Burton add some talent and depth on the back end as well. They also got picked up two good young defense/transition guys in Frank Brown and Travis Burton that can really contribute on both ends. This defense may not look the best at first glance, but the building blocks are in place for something special.
Update 7/10/19 4:30pm: Rochester has traded Travis Burton back to Vancouver for a third round 2019 draft pick.
Rochester went more offensive heavy in this draft, and the pieces they got can be cornerstones of this franchise right away. While they may have some holes to fill, especially on the defensive end, general manager Dan Carey and head coach Mike Hasen have a good chunk of time to fill those voids with free agency and the entry draft. Above all, Rochester has the pieces in place to have success right away in year one.
Rochester’s EXPANSION DRAFT SELECTIONS
Shawn Evans, Forward, Buffalo Bandits
Holden Cattoni, Forward, Georgia Swarm
Rylan Hartley, Goalie, San Diego Seals
Shane Simpson, Defense, Calgary Roughnecks
Curtis Knight, Forward, Saskatchewan Rush
Dan Lintner, Forward, Toronto Rock
Frank Brown, Transition/Defense, Philadelphia Wings
Matthew Bennett, Defense, Philadelphia Wings
Steve Fryer, Goalie, Colorado Mammoth
Chris Wardle, Forward, Colorado Mammoth
Brandon Goodwin, Transition/Defense, Vancouver Warriors