(Photo Courtesy of New York Lizards)
The Major League Lacrosse Draft will take place on Monday, May 4th at 7:30 PM. Pick will be announced on the MLL’s Twitter and Instagram accounts, and individual teams’ social media accounts.
The 2020 MLL draft might be the strangest one of all-time due to the craziness that the lacrosse world has been thrown into due to the Coronavirus outbreak, which prompted the college lacrosse season to be cancelled and pro leagues to halt play. Also, the once extremely talented group that was the 2020 senior class in college lacrosse is now less stacked as the NCAA has granted players an extra year of eligibility, which has many players either returning to their respective schools or entering the transfer portal to find a home for one last run.
Because of this dilemma, the MLL has stated that any player who was listed as a senior in 2020 is eligible to be drafted. If a player decides to return for an extra year of college lacrosse, their rights will be retained for one year by the team that drafted them.
Despite all the remaining unknowns surrounding the lacrosse world, teams will still be focusing on getting the best players to fit their needs during this upcoming draft. Here is a look at each team’s needs coming into the 2020 MLL Draft.
Key Losses: Ryland Rees (LSM), Tate Boyce (G), Will Sands (A), Zed Williams (A/M)
Key Additions: Bryan Cole (M), Bryce Wasserman (A), Matt Gilray (D), Randy Staats (A)
While the Boston Cannons have lost two key pieces of their offense in Will Sands and Zed Williams, they were able to bring Bryan Cole, Bryce Wasserman, and Randy Staats via multiple trades. That sets up their offense, which was one of the best in the league last season, to potentially be even better in 2020. Additionally, their defense is pretty solid with pretty much their entire unit returning.
The one need that the Cannons could likely focus on in this upcoming draft is at the LSM spot. Last season, Ryland Rees was crucial for them on both ends. And for a team that features an offense that seems to love transition, they will need to get an LSM that can push the issue and help spark offense. Two LSM’s that come to mind as guys that can have an immediate impact for this squad are Virginia’s Jared Conners and Boston U.’s Reece Eddy. Both have shown their prowess on the defensive end throughout their college careers, and while Conners has the most offensive spunk between the two, Eddy can also contribute to quick transition opportunities for the offense.
Key Losses: Jesse Bernhardt (D), John Wagner (A)
Key Additions: Callum Crawford (A)
The defending champs may have a new head coach in Tom Mariano, but they don’t appear to have many needs heading into the 2020 MLL Draft. Their offense still features Lyle Thompson, Steele Stanwick, Colin Heacock, and Andrew Kew on attack, and Nick Mariano, Matt Abbott, and Ryan Keenan lead their midfield.
Essentially, their offense is set in stone. They also remain most of their defense, including goalie Niko Amato. However, the loss of Jesse Bernhardt does hurt. So, while their defense isn’t going to crash and burn without Bernhardt, it would be wise for them to go after a pole that can fill that void.
Key Losses: Bryce Wasserman (A), Craig Chick (D)
Key Additions: Will Sands (A)
Connecticut, whose roster is made up of the former Rochester Rattlers’ roster, has youth all over the field. But despite their youth at many key positions, their only real need is on the defensive end of the field. The Hammerheads’ offense will be quarterbacked by Will Sands and he has multiple playmakers around him in Ryan McNamara, Bradley Voigt, Cody Radziewicz, and others.
The Hammerheads need to add more talent on the defensive end to put out in front of goalie Sean Sconone, especially with the departure of Craig Chick. Jake Pulver and LSM Eli Salama are great pieces that give this Hammerheads defense potential, but they are going to need to add another physical force on the back end if they want to win games. Also, it wouldn’t be expected if Connecticut goes for a faceoff man in this draft.
Key Losses: Brendan Kavanagh (A/M), Dillon Ward (G), Eli Gobrecht (D), Finn Sullivan (D), Matt Gilray (D/LSM), Zach Currier (A/M)
Key Additions: James Burr (A)
The 2019 runners-up have lost a lot this offseason. But the cupboard is far from being bare. They return Chris Aslanian, who had a stellar rookie year, and Ryan Lee on the attack and midfielder Mikie Schlosser. It is also safe to assume John Grant Jr. will be back again after coming out of retirement last season. Also, Max Adler will still be taking draws at the faceoff dot for the Outlaws this summer, as well.
Defense might be where they need to look the most in this draft. While they return Michael Rexrode and Andrew Newbold, losing Eli Gobrecht, Finn Sullivan, Matt Gilray, and Dillon Ward is a huge hit. Denver could also look to try and add some more depth at the midfield with two of their top three midfielders gone.
New York Lizards
Key Losses: Greg Puskuldjian (FO), Rob Pannell (A)
Key Additions: Connor O’Hara (A)
New York has lost one of the best attackmen in the world and their main faceoff man. Luckily (or unluckily), they own the first and third picks in the 2020 MLL Draft. With two high picks, they should be able to focus on taking care of their needs early on.
First off, expect them to get an ‘X’ attackman to fill that void that losing Pannell leaves and can complement Dylan Molly. That should be their number one concern heading into this draft. New York’s next areas of need are at the faceoff dot and at midfield, where they need to add some depth to give their offense a more well-rounded look.
Key Losses: Bryan Cole (A), Christian Mazzone (M), Colton Jackson (A), Randy Staats (A), TJ Comizio (SSDM)
Key Additions: Kyle Marr (A), PT Ricci (LSM), Tim Barber (M)
Philadelphia, whose roster is made up of the former Atlanta Blaze’s roster, touts strengths on both ends of the field. They do lose a lot on offense, but they still have Tommy Palasek, Mark Matthews, Brendan Sunday, and Shayne Jackson. They also have goalie Chris Madalon, Defensive Player of the Year Liam Byrnes, and faceoff man Alex Woodall all coming back, as well.
It is pretty clear that Philadelphia needs some help at the defensive midfield spot. Losing TJ Comizio is a big loss for this squad, who liked to get up and down and down and play fast when they were in Atlanta last season. Additionally, look for them to try and add another offensive weapon at the midfield to fill that void left by the loss of Christian Mazzone.