The second draft of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) offseason is quickly approaching and the full list of players that will be entering the league through the entry draft on March 16 has finally been announced. At Pro Lacrosse Talk, we took a look at some of the top names eligible for this year’s draft, where they could end up and how they could benefit their potential new teams.
- Waterdogs LC (Round 1, Pick 1)
- Chrome LC (Round 1, Pick 2)
- Atlas LC (Round 1, Pick 3)
- Archers LC (Round 1, Pick 4)
- Whipsnakes LC (Round 1, Pick 5)
- Redwoods LC (Round 1, Pick 6)
- Chaos LC (Round 1, Pick 7)
- Waterdogs LC (Round 2, Pick 1)
- Chrome LC (Round 2, Pick 2)
- Atlas LC (Round 2, Pick 3)
- Archers LC (Round 2, Pick 4)
- Whipsnakes LC (Round 2, Pick 5)
- Redwoods LC (Round 2, Pick 6)
- Chaos LC (Round 2, Pick 7)
- Jesse Bernhardt
- Craig Chick
- TJ Comizio
- Zach Currier
- Eli Gobrecht
- Josh Hawkins
- Brendan Kavanagh
- Christian Mazzone
- Donny Moss
- Jason Noble
- Rob Pannell
- Greg Puskuldjian
- Ryland Rees
- Finn Sullivan
- Dillon Ward
- Zed Williams
Rob Pannell – Attack
Rob Pannell is the biggest name of the group making the switch from the MLL to the PLL. The 30-year-old attackman was one of the biggest names not to make the switch from the MLL to the PLL last summer due to his contract with the New York Lizards. The Lizards were certainly happy to retain the services of Pannell who finished tied for second in the league in points with 63.
Rob Pannell is a two-time Offensive Player of the Year winner and 2018 MLL league MVP. He will be joining the league seven seasons after the New York Lizards used the first-overall pick on the Cornell attackman. At Cornell, Pannell won Ivy League Player of the year three times, and was a Tewaaraton Award winner in 2013.
Rob Pannell is heavily favored to be the Waterdogs LC’s first overall pick on March 16. If drafted by the Waterdogs, Pannell will join an already stacked attack unit that includes Ben Reeves, Kieran McArdle, Christian Cuccinello and Ryan Drenner. Pannell will become the anchor for Andrew Copelan’s offense, and will help quarterback an offense that includes midfielders Drew Snider and Connor Kelly. With Pannell manning X for the Waterdogs, their attack unit has a chance to be one of the most dangerous in the league.
In the rare chance that the Waterdogs do decide to go in another direction and draft someone else like Zach Currier or Dillon Ward, Rob Pannell would fit in well on the Atlas LC and Archers LC (where many of his former Team USA and Lizards teammates are) as well as really any other team in the league.
Zach Currier – Midfield
Zach Currier is one of the big surprises coming over from the Denver Outlaws. After coming out of Princeton in 2017, where he was a First Team All-American, Currier immediately made an impact at the professional level. Most recently in 2019, Currier was named a finalist for MLL MVP after recording 36 points in addition to 47 ground balls and five caused turnovers.
Zach Currier also plays transition for the 2019 NLL Champion Calgary Roughnecks and his box lacrosse experience has helped him develop into a premier two-way midfielder on both the floor and field.
Currier’s diverse lacrosse experience and style of play instantly make him one of the top names in the draft, and he would be a valuable addition to any team in the PLL. Along with Rob Pannell, Currier is a candidate for the first pick in this year’s entry draft. If he doesn’t go first overall, he’ll more than likely end up going second to the Chrome or to the Atlas at three.
Dillon Ward – Goalie
Dillon Ward was a bit of a surprise when the PLL dropped the official list of players that were transferring over. Ward served as the starting goalie for the Denver Outlaws during their 2018 championship run, and in 2019 was named as one of three finalists for Goalie of the Year. Ward made a name for himself in the field game out of Bellarmine College, where he recorded a save percentage just over 56% and allowed under 10 goals a game.
He further cemented himself as one of the top goaltenders in the world by winning the gold medal and tournament MVP with Team Canada in the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships. Ward also plays professionally in the NLL with the Colorado Mammoth and has widely been considered the best goaltender in the league since being drafted by Colorado in 2013.
Ward’s surprise transfer makes the draft a bit more unpredictable, as teams now have a veteran option that could step in and become one of the better goalies in the league. The Chrome are a logical landing spot for Ward, as they needed a reliable goalie last year.
The goalie play in the PLL is elite and Ward only adds to that. Short of the Chrome and Waterdogs, Ward will have to compete for a starting spot anywhere else in the league. But if his career is any indicator, nobody should feel safe if Ward is drafted onto their roster.
Ryland Rees – LSM
Ryland Rees is coming over to the PLL following a highly successful 2019 season in which he played for Stony Brook University in the spring and the Boston Cannons in the summer. Rees is currently averaging a point-per-game playing out his rookie season for the expansion Rochester Knighthawks in the NLL, after they selected him with their second overall pick in the 2019 NLL draft.
Ryland Rees followed up a 2019 college season in which he was named the America East Defensive Player of the Year with a summer for the Boston Cannons that saw him become a legitimate scoring threat from the LSM position for Boston. Rees also made the All-Star team in July, and even received defensive player of the week honors in Week 4.
Rees would likely become one of the better long stick midfielders in the league, and could be an attractive option for Chrome LC, who only bothered protecting two of their current defensemen in the the expansion draft. Chrome pick second, and Rees could be a pick to build the defense around as they look to rebound following a disappointing inaugural season in the PLL.
Should Rees slip past the second pick, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Atlas LC jumps at the opportunity to draft the heir apparent to Kyle Hartzell and replacement for Noah Richard. But should they choose to stick with Hartzell, Rees could potentially drop as teams with strong incumbent LSM’s pick after Atlas, and maybe end up in the hands of Chaos, who would love to add an offensively minded pole and face-off wing to their famed bomb squad.
Jesse Bernhardt – Defense
Jesse Bernhardt has been one of the premier defenders in the lacrosse landscape since being a two-time captain at Maryland and the 2012 ACC Co-Defensive player of the year. After joining the Chesapeake Bayhawks in 2013, Bernhardt became one of the best down-home defenders in the MLL, and on the international stage.
Bernhardt will bring with him to the PLL a number of “X” factor attributes in the form of winning at every level and leadership attributes. Bernhardt is a two-time medalist on the international stage including a gold medal on the 2018 USA team on which he was a captain.
Bernhardt’s 2019 statistics suggest he still has a lot left in the tank despite his age, leading the Bayhawks defense in turnovers and finishing second in ground balls. A team like Chrome LC would love to add a veteran leader like Bernhardt to their defense, and with the second pick in the draft they’ll certainly be in a position to take him.
The Chaos could be another interesting fit for Bernhardt and could help bring a stabilizing force to a defense that lost veteran leader Brodie Merrill in the expansion draft. In reality, any team would love to add Bernhardt to the mix, and he will likely go high in the first round of next week’s entry draft.
Christian Mazzone – Midfield
Despite a successful college career that saw him named to the Second Team All Big-Ten in 2018, Mazzone saw himself slip to the third round of the MLL college draft in 2018 and never received the opportunity to see the field. Mazzone was relocated to the Atlanta Blaze from the now defunct Ohio Machine, and it was in 2019 in Atlanta that Mazzone took off.
Mazzone finished third in goals in the highest scoring offense in the MLL a year ago, and finished third in the entire league in shooting percentage. Mazzone is not afraid to find himself on defense either, and has a legitimate claim as a two-way midfielder. That being said, his claim to fame is certainly his goal scoring ability, and if his breakout 2019 season is any indication, he could be valuable pick up for a team looking to add to their midfield depth.
Mazzone is a strong shooter and dodger, which could make him a good fit for a team like the Redwoods who could be looking to add some depth next to the newly acquired Myles Jones. Mazzone could also be an interesting fit on the Whipsnakes, who may looking for an option to replace some of the production they will be losing in Drew Snider.
Eli Gobrecht – Defense
Eli Gobrecht is one of the more interesting names on this list. Gobrecht played at Ithaca where he was named the Division III Defender of the Year in 2016 and was the defensive anchor of a Denver Outlaws team that won the 2018 MLL Championship. Gobrecht also currently plays in the NLL on the San Diego Seals and has become one of the better lockdown defenders in the league.
Gobrecht is one of the more enticing names on the entry draft list, due to his combination of age and his impressive professional resume. Gobrecht could once again be an enticing option for a defensive hungry team like the Chrome and would slide into a starting role with them immediately. That being said, the Redwoods, who lost Brian Karalunas in the expansion draft, could look for Gobrecht to come in and fit the physical and precise defense that head coach Nat St. Laurent runs.
TJ Comizio – Midfield
TJ Comizio is listed officially as a short stick defensive middie, but he had a significant impact on both sides of the ball for the Atlanta Blaze during his rookie in campaign in 2019. Comizio was selected with the 15th overall pick out of Villanova last season. At Villanova, Comizio led the team in turnovers forced, and was an elite ball stopper at the top of the box.
Comizio continued his dominate ways in Atlanta, and became a valuable two way forward. Entering the PLL, Comizio will be in high demand was teams look to continue unlocking his potential as a two way midfielder. Comizio would be an excellent fit on any team in the PLL, but especially for teams looking for depth at the midfield such as the Whipsnakes.
The Atlas or Chaos could also look to add Comizio to replace players like Steven DeNapoli and Kyle McClancy, who were each drafted by the Waterdogs in the expansion draft.
Craig Chick – Defense/LSM
Craig Chick is another young defender with an impressive college resume that made an impact in his pro debut in 2019. After a 2019 at Lehigh University in which Chick was named a second team All-American and drafted to the Dallas Rattlers of the MLL, Chick made an instant impact from the long stick midfield spot for the Rattlers.
Chick was so impressive, that he was actually named a finalist for the MLL MVP award in his rookie season. Chick now joins the PLL, and rivals Ryland Rees as the most enticing young defensive player in this crop of players. The Chrome likely will have their choice between Rees and Chick, with the second one potentially falling to the back end of the first round.
Chick, like Rees, would be an interesting option for Chaos LC, who may be looking for someone that can move around the field and play both in the midfield and down low. In what seems to be a crowded field of defenders in the PLL Entry Draft, Chick could end up being the cream of the crop.
Other players available
The above list is just a few of the big names coming over and joining the PLL this year. Every player above has a chance to join the already talented seven teams in the league and become instant impact players. They aren’t the only impact players available in the entry draft either.
Zed Williams, who made a name for himself in college at the University of Virginia, is a young midfield option for teams looking to add a deep threat that can play both ways and invert from the attack if needed.
Jason Noble is another NLL guy who plays close defense in the field game, but has the ability to push the ball in transition when given the opportunity.
Finn Sullivan is a possible choice for a team looking for a young, experienced close defender who can step in and start right away.
Greg Puskuldjian is a valuable option for any team looking for an experienced FOGO.
Brendan Kavanagh, brother of Redwoods attackman Matt Kavanagh, is one of the more enticing young attack options in a draft dominated by defense.
Donny Moss is a veteran defensive midfielder with over 10 years of pro experience and could be a late add for teams looking to bolster their defense.
Josh Hawkins, who’s making a return to pro lacrosse after retiring in 2018, is a veteran, defensive-minded midfielder with the ability to also push the ball in transition and the potential to thrive on the PLL’s 100-yard field.
Let us know which players you hope your team selects in the PLL entry draft on March 16 and follow Pro Lacrosse Talk for all the latest player movement coverage.