On Thursday, the 2021 PLL Entry Draft took place via Twitter Spaces and featured each coach announcing their picks through the chat room, with Lisa Redmond and Joe Keegan acting as the moderators. Thousands tuned in via the newly added ‘Spaces’ feature (so much so that the app appeared to crash due to a capacity overload) to see where the loaded player pool talent would end up. Here are the results and how these new additions fit in.
Round 1 – Adding Star Power
There weren’t a ton of surprises in this first round. Most clubs took the best player available to fill any of the big holes within their lineups. The Archers, after losing Curtis Corley to the Coach Sean Quirk and the Cannons in the PLL Expansion Draft, took Graeme Hossack second overall — who should create a formidable lineup alongside Eli Gobrecht and Matt McMahon. Meanwhile, the Waterdogs took long-pole Liam Byrnes to replace Brodie Merrill, who was also lost to expansion, and give the Dogs more confidence on the back end.
The Cannons (Lyle Thompson, A), Chrome (Randy Staats, A) and Atlas (Dan Bucaro, A) added some of the best offensive talents in this draft, who will all have profound impacts on their respective offenses. Bucaro is a lightning-quick, relentless dodger who will anchor the Bulls offense for years to come. Staats provides some of the best two-man game execution and pick-setting in the world (on top of immaculate finishing capabilities). He will reunite with former Rochester Rattlers Coach Tim Soudan, as well as several Rattlers teammates on a formidable Chrome offense. While Lyle Thompson – well, he’s Lyle Thompson.
On top of Thompson, with the sixth pick, the Cannons brought back short stick defender Zach Goodrich — who Coach Quirk described as “a fifth pole” out on the field. Every PLL team has at least one shorty they’re very confident about leaving on an island, and Goodrich will be exactly that for the Cannons going forward.
Toward the end of the first round, the two-time Champion Whipsnakes added Chris Aslanian (A) to their roster. Despite being listed at attack, Aslanian may see runs from the midfield being that he’s more of a well-rounded offensive player — something Coach Jim Stagnitta has always preached when choosing personnel. He is another Brad Smith-esque player who can dodge, feed and shoot, and already has a relationship with Matt Rambo. He’s an upgrade to an already lethal offense and can fill the whole left by Max Tuttle, who played all over the field for the Whips.
Lastly, the Chaos took the only face-off man of the entire draft as a replacement for Tommy Kelly. Given the absence of a specialist on his roster, Coach Towers had to address the position before anything else. Max Adler should serve as a nice upgrade at the stripe, considering Kelly didn’t even crack 40% last summer on 157 attempts.
Round 2 – Filling in the Cracks
Naturally, coaches went with team needs once again, but also looked to solidify any positions they could with lots of talent still on the board only eight picks in. The Atlas had the first selection of the second round, thanks to their trade with the Cannons, in addition to the #14 pick, and elected to choose Michael Rexrode and Andrew Newbold to revamp their defensive unit. The addition of Rexrode allows Atlas to utilize either Cade Van Raaphorst or Craig Chick at LSM along with the newly-acquired Newbold.
With the #10 pick, the Archers selected midfielder Ryan McNamara. With Ian MacKay departing via the Connor Fields trade and Josh Currier getting snagged by the Cannons earlier this month, McNamara will join the likes of Fields, Schreiber, Ambler and Mazzone to further bolster the Archers midfield unit. McNamara was a potential sleeper pick that Adam Moore and Hutton Jackson highlighted prior to the draft. He’s a versatile midfielder who can shoot from range and finished in the top 20 in points during the 2018 MLL season when all the best pro field players were under one roof.
The Redwoods (after forfeiting their first rounder to the Atlas in the Rob Pannell trade) made their first selection at #11, picking attackman Ryan Lee. Lee is one of the most audacious finishers in pro lacrosse — as Joe Keegan puts it in his 10-Man Ride newsletter, “He bounces around the offensive set like an electron. He’s constantly sprinting. And diving.”
Every other goal for Lee is a theatrical crease dive or a time-and-room bullet. He’s not just a replacement for Clarke Petterson, he’s an upgrade.
Speaking of upgrades, the Chrome drafted the likely successor to future Hall of Famer John Galloway. Despite Galloway’s undoubtedly talented career, as of late he’s began to slow down a bit and is turning his focus towards his coaching role at Jacksonville. Sean Sconone is the opposite of that, contrary to his large frame, the recent ZooMass grad has some of the fastest hands out there, which earned him the Goalie of the Year honors during the MLL’s ‘bubble’ tournament last Summer, his second straight year taking home the award.
With the #12 pick, the Waterdogs selected midfielder Mikie Schlosser, a well-respected locker room presence, known for his blazing speed and athleticism, to help improve the middle of the field for the Dogs. The Whips added short stick defensive midfielder Charlie Hayes at #15, a tenacious defender who will *try* and fill the gap left by Ty Warner during the offseason. And to wrap up the second round, the Chaos added a steal in transition threat Challen Rogers with the #16 pick. Rogers joins the long list of players with a background in the indoor game on the Chaos and will fit nicely into Coach Towers’ style of Canadian lacrosse that helped them storm their way to the PLL Championship in 2020.
Through the first two rounds, at total of eight former Denver Outlaws players were taken, something that former Denver Outlaws president Matt Bocklet prepared everyone for prior to the draft.
Round 3 – The Cherry on Top
This round, teams built upon previous picks by solidifying positional strength, or used their final pick to address a need elsewhere in their lineup. Coach Quirk began the last round at #17 by selecting goaltender Nick Marrocco. One of the game’s best young keepers, Marrocco will back the Cannons defense with confidence – coming off an MLL Championship with the club in 2020 and having been coached by Quirk the last few seasons. Ironically, Marrocco got his chance in the MLL because the Cannons signed him from the player pool back in 2018. The Archer’s drafted another defenseman in Warren Jeffrey who was touted as one of the best “post-up” defensemen in the draft, denying attackman any opportunities at GLE. The Waterdogs also followed suit by drafting Ben Randall at #20 overall, really trying to hammer home a defensive unit that will stick for future seasons.
Warren Jeffrey and Ben Randall weren’t the only steals in the third round, as Nat St. Laurent landed the speedy short-stick defender Isaiah Davis-Allen and Stags landed another former Terp in Bryan Cole. Many listed IDA as the next best SSDM behind Zach Goodrich and he’ll fit in nicely with the likes of Jack Near and Pat Harbeson. On the other end, Bryan Cole was mocked by many as a second rounder and fell all the way to the defending champs at #23. Cole was a top-scorer on the record-setting Atlanta Blaze offense in 2019 and will fit in nicely on an already loaded Whips offense.
The Atlas, Chrome and Chaos all went with savvy offensive personnel, as the Bulls selected attackman Brendan Sunday (a 2019 MLL All-Star), the Chrome added attackman turned midfielder Colin Heacock — only adding to the list of beauties on Tim Soudan’s roster, and Andy Towers added yet another Canadian to the mix, drafting the versatile midfielder Kyle Jackson.
Sunday will serve as yet another young addition to this Atlas attack, joining Bucaro and Chris Cloutier, with veteran finisher Eric Law to work off of them. Heacock on the other hand will likely see a lot of time at the midfield, where he played a ton of minutes the past couple of seasons for the Chesapeake Bayhawks. Since becoming a pro, Heacock has evolved his game to be much more than just an offensive threat and can stay on the field and help on the defensive end if needed. As Jordan Wolf put it on Twitter, Soudan and company are #ChromewardBound. Finally, Kyle Jackson, who was a part of the 2020 MLL Championship-winning Boston Cannons team, provides the Chaos with a midfielder who can do it all, whether it’s dodging from up top, finishing on the crease or inverting from behind the cage.
Top Waiver Wire Prospects
Not a single player taken in the PLL Entry Draft was over 28-years-old, which showed coaches valued youth when making their selections. That leaves several talented veterans who still have a ton of playing days ahead of them available in the player pool. As Joe Keegan clarified, the waiver wire will begin on March 29 with the Cannons picking first and the rest of the order being determined.
Several big names went undrafted in the PLL Entry Draft, with the most notable names being 2020 MLL MVP Bryce Wasserman and 2016 Tewaaraton winner Dylan Molloy, both whose skill set was likely in less demand due to the presence of several other traditional X attackmen already on PLL rosters.
Some other attackman who could see land on a roster via the waiver wire are 2020 MLL Champion Mark Cockerton, 2015 MLL champion Tommy Palasek, 2020 NLL MVP Shayne Jackson, 2018 NLL MVP Mark Matthews, 2020 NLL Rookie of the Year finalist Andrew Kew and former member of the 2015 U.S. national teams in field and box Garrett Thul.
At the midfield, former NFL wide receiver Chris Hogan and the big-bodied Frank Brown are two athletic options you could see teams adding during the waiver period.
On the defensive end, former Chesapeake Bayhawks LSM CJ Costabile and SSDM Matt Abbott will both certainly find their way on a roster and you could see Coach Sean Quirk add some more former Cannons like Matt Gilray, Justin Pugal and/or James Fahey to his defense during the waiver wire period.
While few teams (if any) are in need of a starting goalie, teams will likely be active in adding proven netminders Austin Kaut, Brian Phipps and Chris Madalon as backups on their rosters.
Finally, faceoff is a position that saw little love in the draft, but Kevin Reisman, who ranked second in faceoff percentage in the MLL last year, could get some looks during the waiver wire period.
Waiver Wire Names to Watch For
Attack: Andrew Kew, Bradley Voigt, Ben Martin, Connor O’Hara, Dylan Molloy, Garrett Thul, John Upgren, Kevin Crowley, Mark Cockerton, Mark Matthews, Nate Solomon, Shayne Jackson, Tommy Palasek, Will Sands
Midfield: Brendan Bomberry, Brian Kormondy, Chris Hogan, Frank Brown, Jack Jasinski, Justin Reh, Kiel Matisz, Kyle Denhoff, Luke Wittenberg, Nicky Galasso, Nick Mariano, Tim Barber
SSDM: Carlson Milikin, Chad Toliver, Drew Schantz, Mark Ellis, Matt Abbott, Pat Aslanian
LSM: Alex Spring, Chase Levesque, CJ Costabile, Latrell Harris, Scott Corcoran
Defense: Greg Weyl, James Fahey, James Leary, Justin Pugal, Kyle Pless, Matt Gilray, Will Nowesnick
Goalie: Austin Kaut, Brian Phipps, Chris Madalon, Christian Knight, Nick Washuta
FO: Casey Dowd, Kenny Massa, Kevin Reisman, Noah Rak