UPDATE: This article has been updated to include the PLL’s clarification on how draft picks traded prior to last season were awarded for the 2021 PLL College Draft.
UPDATE #2: This article has been updated to include the PLL’s latest video, which includes clarification that teams will be able to protect more than one goaltender.
The PLL offseason is officially in full swing as the league announced details for the upcoming 2021 PLL Expansion Draft, PLL Entry Draft and PLL College Draft. Since the PLL-MLL Merger in December, fans have been clamoring for news on how and when expansion and player movement would take place, and we finally have many of those answers.
2021 PLL Waiver Wire and Trade Window
Things will kick off with the PLL waiver wire and trade window opening on February 9. Teams will be able to add current PLL players who are in the player pool up until February 28 and make trades up until April 30. The 2020 offseason saw quite a few trades leading up to the PLL Championship Series with the Myles Jones-Sergio Salcido deal making the most noise.
The most intriguing aspect of this offseason will be how PLL coaches handle the waiver wire and trade window both leading up to and following the expansion and entry drafts. Will we see high-profiled players like Dillon Ward, Connor Fields or Ryan Drenner dealt prior to the expansion draft or will coaches sit pat and leave certain players unprotected?
2021 PLL Expansion Draft
The 2021 PLL Expansion Draft will take place on March 11 and work similarly to last year’s expansion draft with a few exceptions. The first will be that the seven established PLL teams will be be allowed to protect 14 players with at least one being a goalie, which is more than the 11-player protected rosters that coaches submitted last year. Teams will also be able to protect more than one goalie this time around which is great news for Archers and Chaos fans. This means that Coach Chris Bates will be able to keep both Adam Ghitelman and Drew Adams if the Archers choose to utilize a two-goalie system again this season.
It also means that Coach Andy Towers will have the option to keep two-time goaltender of the year Blaze Riorden and Dillon Ward on his roster, or #TradeWard any time during the PLL trade window. The Chaos now have a lot more leverage in dealing the world class goaltender for what could be a decent haul in return.
Another bonus for the other seven coaches is that Coach Sean Quirk will only be able to acquire a maximum of three players from the other PLL rosters when forming his 18-player expansion squad. Coach Andy Copelan was able to select up to four in the Waterdogs LC expansion draft.
2021 PLL Entry Draft
Next up will be the PLL Entry Draft on March 25, which will feature three rounds to help usher 24 former MLL players into the PLL. Cannons LC head coach Sean Quirk arguably has the greatest opportunity to build a successful team as he will select first in each of the three PLL Entry Draft rounds. So yes, you can start pre-ordering your Lyle Thompson Cannons LC jersey now.
The rest of the draft order is where things could get wild. Similar to last year, draft picks for the rest of the teams will be determined by a lottery. However, unlike the last PLL Entry Draft, the lottery will be unweighted. This means that each of the other seven teams have an equal chance of landing that #2 pick. With loads of talent coming over from the MLL, the 2021 PLL Entry Draft is sure to shake up the entire landscape of pro field lacrosse.
PLL College Draft
Did we also mention their will be a 2021 PLL College Draft featuring the likes of Michael Sowers (Princeton/Duke), Jeff Teat (Cornell), Mac O’Keefe (Penn State), Dox Aitken (Virginia), Jared Bernhardt (Maryland), JT Giles-Harris (Duke) and TD Ierlan to name a few? The 2021 PLL College Draft is currently scheduled for April 6 and will feature four rounds.
Draft Order Explained
Here is where things start to get a bit confusing. The order of the rounds of the 2021 PLL College Draft were determined by the final rankings at the end of the PLL Championship Series. Yet, that ranking was determined by postseason success, NOT records in group play (sorry Chaos fans). Based on this, Ben Rubeor and Atlas LC will select the first pick overall with Waterdogs, Chrome, Redwoods, Archers, Chaos and Whipsnakes following. The Cannons will select eighth overall and follow a snake structure, picking first in rounds two and four and last in round three.
The rest of the teams’ draft order for rounds two, three and four follow the 2020 rankings, yet feature a handful of traded picks. Due to COVID-19, the PLL hosted a two-round College Draft in 2020, without any of the trade implications that had occurred leading up to that draft. Instead, the league announced that those trades would be accounted for during the 2021 College Draft.
With the draft order now set, the league informed Lacrosse Playground that picks were assigned based on the following criteria:
- The two clubs that had five picks before COVID (Chaos and Chrome), received that fifth pick in the 2021 College Draft.
- The two clubs that had three picks before COVID (Redwoods and Archers), lost that fourth pick in the 2021 College Draft.
- The three Clubs that had four picks (Waterdogs, Whipsnakes and Atlas), regardless of whether those picks were involved in a trade, were considered neutral and were simply awarded 2021 PLL College Draft slots based on their finish at the PLL Championship Series.
- NOTE: One of the four picks for both the Atlas and Whipsnakes were affected by trades in the pre-COVID 2020 College Draft order. Regardless of those trade results, these two teams were awarded 2021 slots based on their finish at the PLL Championship Series.
Overall, the PLL offseason is likely to feature plenty of player movement and teams will undoubtedly have a much different makeup when the league takes the field on June 4. What offseason moves do you want to see? Let us know in the comments or on social media.