(Photo Courtesy of PLL)
On Wednesday night we found out the initial 18-man roster for the PLL’s Waterdogs LC expansion team as head coach Andy Copelan made his picks in the PLL Expansion Draft. You can find the complete results here.
Hers is a breakdown of their selections:
Waterdogs LC is loaded, as expected. One of the things that stood out most was the direction, or theme, that head coach Andy Copelan wanted to go with in this expansion draft. Waterdogs have a lot of “Swiss Army Knife” pieces that they will be able to either run at multiple spots on the field or can contribute in more ways than most players. The Waterdogs could end up being the most position-less team in pro lacrosse. The Golden State Warriors of the PLL, in a way.
Also, it appears that Coach Copelan and his staff didn’t look so much at pure talent as they did at fit. On the surface, all 18 guys that they got can complement each other in terms of their respective playing style, among other things. Also, as mentioned multiple times on the broadcast, the PLL Entry and College Drafts were on the minds of Copelan when making these selections, as well. Which isn’t surprising at all.
Coach Copelan has an offensive background, so it not surprising that he went offensively heavy in this expansion draft. And there were also a lot of really good options on that end of the field left unprotected, as well.
As previously mentioned, depending on how the coaching staff plays these guys Waterdogs LC could be the most positionless team in pro lacrosse. And nowhere is that more evident than on the offensive end of the field. Their first two picks were Connor Kelly and Christian Cuccinello, who both have the ability to play at either the attack or midfield spot. Then they picked up another guy of a similar mold in Ben Reeves, who won the Tewaaraton in 2018 at Yale and despite being one of the best attackmen on the planet was run out of the box at times last season for Whipsnakes LC. Just those top three offensive picks set a great foundation for an offense that can be great and make things happen from almost anywhere on the field.
On top of those three guys already mentioned, Waterdogs got some pure spot-up shooters, high-quality passers, and deadly finishers in Kieran McArdle, Ben McIntosh, Drew Snider, Danny Eipp, Ryan Drenner, and Wes Berg. And on top of that Kyle McClany, who was used mostly as an SSDM by Chaos LC last season, was a major offensive threat in college and has shown how great of a two-way midfielder he can be in the PLL. Ryan Conrad and Steve DeNapoli is of a similar mold, as well.
One of the no-brainer picks coming into this expansion draft was veteran defenseman/LSM Brodie Merrill. He has been around the block more than a few teams and is THE player that a coach dreams of building a defense around. He can do it all on the back end. Plus, his leadership and experience are second to none in this sport. Additionally, they picked up a player that is in a similar mold to Merrill in Brian Karalunas. Those two as the core of the same defense are sure to keep coaches up at night all season long.
In addition to those two core pieces in Merrill and Karalunas, Waterdogs got two younger guys in LSM Noah Richard and defenseman Chris Sabia. Both appear to have very high ceilings and have shown how much of a threat they can be already as young players in this league. And under the tutelage of Merrill and Karalunas should grow tremendously. And then you also have to mention Kyle McClancy, Ryan Conrad, and Steve DeNapoli once again, as they can all make an impact defensively at the midfield spot, in addition to their offensive abilities.
The most surprising pick of this expansion draft was goalie Charlie Cipriano. While he saw limited action with Chaos last season, he has proven in the past that he can be a starter in the pro game. Also, he played for Copelan at Fairfield so there is familiarity there. So while it was a surprise pick, it does make sense.
The 18th pick of the expansion draft was used to get faceoff man Drew Simoneau. And while there were some quality faceoff men left unprotected, you can’t argue with this pick at all.
Last season, Simoneau got put behind rookie standout Connor Farrell, but still proved his worth when he got a shot. And he has proved himself in the past, as well. That experience on the pro level is crucial for an expansion team no matter what position.