2006 MLL COLLEGIATE DRAFT REPORT CARD
By Gordon Boone
I can't believe it's the 6th Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft. Where has the time gone? Now we have 4 new teams, the game spans coast-to-coast, and there's a whole new cast of characters. We now have some professional team operators like the Denver Broncos and AEG joining the small group of lacrosse-guys who put their money and their time where their mouths were to bring us professional lacrosse and spread the game.
This is a different league than I have been used too, though. The core talent has been spread out thinly compared to the past 5 years. But when it comes down to players, this is still a man's league. With only an 18 man Game Day Active Roster the bigger, stronger, faster, smarter are the survivors of the coach's cuts.
I spoke to Long Island's Jimmy Mule and he summed up the draft quickly "the only drama seemed to be who will Baltimore take at #2, and who will Chicago take at #3?" The league's General Manager David Gross did point out correctly that this was a very deep draft year, as you'll read here. Gross believes the league has reached a maturity with regards to the draft, "I think a lot of teams will be drafting for need, not because of geography." But he also thinks the players have to show a commitment to really make the expansion thrive, "The key is to get the young players living in their team's market."
So, here's my scorecard for the MLL draft:
Baltimore Bayhawks: Not sure where to start with this team. Lots of off season
Issues affected this team from top to bottom and basically put them on the level of an expansion team. Let's just say they had a lot of holes to fill. The defending champion Baltimore Bayhawks lost an incredible amount of talent in the off-season for various reasons including expansion and a change in management. But they did receive some potential relief via draft picks.
In past years the Bayhawks would be lucky if they could get one player through the draft that could make their team. Most of the 2006 draftees should see the field soon.
ATTACK: Ward was needed to augment an aging yet still very dangerous attack. I just hope Millon lets him touch the ball.
MIDFIELD: Huge hole here and Dixon, Keyser, Healy, and McGlone were smart picks but won't be a lot of help in 2006 as Dixon potentially has surgery on thumb ligaments scheduled and most these guys haven't played much midfield defense since high school.
I think it was a big mistake not taking face off man Snider out of Denver to fill in for the huge hole created by Cantabene not playing. Snider will be a star in this league.
GOAL: Big thumbs up for the trade to acquire Havalchak. He should start right away.
Any team that has Tom Marachek, Mark Millon, Mark Frye, Shawn Nadelen, Christian Cook, Ronnie Staines, and Mike Howely still can be very dangerous. But let's face it, no team will ever come close to resembling the 2005 Bayhawks.
DRAFT GRADE: B
Boston Cannons: Boston has hit the ground running in 2006 after losing quite a bit from expansion.
ATTACK: I had Bucktooth going much higher in the draft. He will step in immediately and be an impact player with Gill feeding him.
MIDFIELD: Poskay is that rare midfield finisher that will add to Boston's scoring machine. But he'll have to be subbed for on defense. DJ Andrzejewski was my sleeper pick of the draft and will be a solid middie in the MLL for years to come.
Boston is a very good team with no holes and that is extremely well managed and coached. I will be very surprised if Boston doesn't compete for the MLL title.
DRAFT GRADE: B
Chicago Machine: The Machine is going through typical expansion pains that Sean Morris will help sooth day one. Did anyone really think Baltimore would take Morris while Mark Millon is still productive?
ATTACK: Morris will be a star in this league and is
the next big offensive name in lacrosse.
MIDFIELD: Boulukos is a do-it-all MLL prototype midfielder and will be an All Star as soon as next season. Goodwin, a lefty will complement Boulukos with an outstanding MLL caliber outside shot.
DEFENSE: A player like Culver was needed last week when Mark Millon scorched Chicago for 6. Look for Culver to handle other teams #1 guy so Bigas & Davis can do what they do best…thump the off ball guys and slide to penetrating midfield dodgers.
With moderate parity in the Western Division this year and so many draftees seeing immediate action, these guys my be enough to get the Machine into the play offs.
DRAFT GRADE: B+
Denver Outlaws: The Outlaws get it. This is not your typical expansion team. With former Bayhawk enforcer Brian Reese as GM and Hawk team mate Jarred Testa as coach, no expansion team has done a better job building their team. Reese's aggressive mentality tempered by Testa's cool demeanor and depth of player knowledge are a tough match to top.
ATTACK: Mundorf is just another intelligent choice that comes from Testa's days as an assistant at UMBC and should start day one.
MIDFIELD: Snider should have gone much earlier. Didn't Paul Cantabene's work teach league GMs anything about how important possession is? Cittadino is fast…I mean Josh Sims fast. He will be a great defensive force at midfield that will get the ball up field fast.
DEFENSE: Moyer is great. How he dropped to the 18th
pick is beyond me. McCarthy was obviously a Reese pick and look for him to play much like Brian,
There's a big difference between the MLL and NCAA lacrosse. Denver is
fortunate most team GMs only read Inside Lacrosse for who they should pick. And like I said earlier Denver gets it.
DRAFT GRADE: A+ (2006 Western Divison Champs)
Long Island Lizards: Here's another team that "gets it". The Lizards have made the play offs 4 times, been in the championship game 4 times, and won 2 championships for a reason…they're smart. Historically Long Island rarely has many early picks choosing to trade them for local vets who can't travel. This system makes it tough for most draftees to make their team.
ATTACK: Walsh will struggle to see the field unless there's an injury due to deep LI bench
MIDFIELD: Deane will play immediately as a short stick face off defensive middie
DEFENSE: Orsen and Blechman add depth to stellar defense
DRAFT GRADE: B (2006 MLL Champs)
This is a veteran group who knows how to win when it counts. The rich get richer now that the Lizards have a whopping 4 MD guys on their roster.
Los Angles Rip Tide: The Rip Tide have two great lacrosse guys in GW Mix and John Tucker running the show out there on the left coast. But the Rip Tide will suffer from the expansion blues and need to get some support for T. Johnson.
MIDFIELD: Britts' speed should help LA get the ball to Watson's dangerous stick
DEFENSE: Driscoll is an MLL caliber close defenseman and needs to step right in
DRAFT GRADE: C
LA has tried to go local but the talent pool just ain't that deep out there. I also wonder if coach Tuck's coaching talents aren't wasted a bit on the MLL style of play. But if anyone can harness an MLL offense, it's John Tucker.
New Jersey Pride: There hasn't been much "Pride" in New Jersey Pro lacrosse for a while. But that should change this season. But I don't know why anyone wastes picks on military guys when our country is at war.
ATTACK: Cappadoro could be a hidden jewel helping Banks getting the ball to the Pride shooters. Birsner can play at this level but who knows about his availability for the next few years. At least NJ didn't burn a low pick like in 2005 (Gill) on a guy who won't be available.
MIDFIELD: Paolisso, a defensive middie who can score. He should see the field this season.
DEFENSE: Garnett gives NJ depth and could challege for a starting position by season end. Good value at pick # 26.
GOAL: Now Baran wasn't drafted but this addition shows me someone is thinking in NJ. Baran should immediately challenge for the #2 position behind Robbie Scherr
DRAFT GRADE: C (Could challenge for Title)
Off-season trades and years of low drafts selections have helped this squad and now they have a great mix of youth and vets. This is a very talented team if the culture of losing can be changed. This starts with Ownership.
Philadelphia Barrage: Well it took a year but they're finally getting it in Philly. After dismantling a championship team in 2005 Philly is looking strong again.
ATTACK: Ritz - At #27 this is a can't hurt pick and he's a local. Won't see the field unless there's an injury.
MIDFIELD: This might be sacrilege, but Zash is better than Harrison. Yeah I said it. He'll be hungry & fresh. Peyser might be the best all around middie in the draft and will take face offs. Cannon also shows me that Philly is actually watching college games.
GOAL: Canuso will be #2 behind the best stopper in the game.
DRAFT GRADE: B (Could challenge for title)
Philly needed midfield and they got super stars. These are MLL middies that can step in now and help get Philly back to the playoffs.
Rochester Rattlers: The Rattlers took a big hit from expansion and are rebuilding. Rochester has always liked being the toughest guy on the block and they got MLL caliber guys who can play now.
ATTACK: While Walters pick was a no-brainer, but I love the Unterstein pick. Both will play ASAP.
MIDFIELD: Gurenlian will take face offs and also is a Rochester kind of player. Morrissey will help at d-midfield and Crockett, who played attack with Mikey will impress.
DEFENSE: Reid follows in the mold of Rochester defenseman, big tough, and mean. Reid will thrive in Rochester and will be an All Star. I'm sure he's also Glad Unterstein is now on his team.
GOAL: Civalier is a local who will challenge for the #2 behind Levin.
DRAFT GRADE: A+
Great draft addressing all positions but it's going to be another year until the Rattlers get back their old bite.
San Francisco: This is a better than average expansion team. They have been assembled all the right components to be competitive in the MLL.
ATTACK: Yevoli, a good pick, may struggle to find an immediate spot on this strong attack unit.
MIDFIELD: Heritage is a big offensive middie who has the tools to succed in the MLL - size, strength, speed and a shot. Doud is a very good pick and will see the field soon.
DEFENSE: Holmes will step right in with McElduff and Jaude competing for serious time at close defense allowing Whitty some run at d midfield.
DRAFT GRADE: B-
San Fran is young but is a complete team. They will surprise.
Best Value Picks of the draft:
1) DJ Andrzejewski (Boston - 29th pick)
2) Snider (Denver - 17th pick)
3) Havalchek (Baltimore - 32nd pick)
4) Bucktooth (Boston - 14th pick)
5) Mundorf (Denver - 21st pick)
6) Cannon (Philly - 37th pick)
Head Scratch Picks:
1) Keyser over Snider, Andrzejewski, Bucktooth?
2) Driscoll over Moyer?