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PLL Expansion Draft: Brent Adams and Brodie Merrill headline Cannons LC roster

The PLL Expansion Draft has come and went, and as we expected, things did not go as we expected. There were certainly some obvious picks in the likes of former Boston Cannons Brent Adams and Brodie Merrill, as well as players Coach Quirk specifically mentioned on the Inside Feed podcast in Connor Buczek, Ryan Drenner, Curtis Corley and Reece Eddy. Jake Pulver, Drew Simoneau, Deemer Class and Max Tuttle were all some other names many expected.

Yet, as the PLL Expansion Draft progressed, the picks started to become a bit more unpredictable. One in particular was Coach Quirk’s decision to draft Whipsnakes backup goalie and former Loyola standout Jacob Stover instead of a starter like Adam Ghitelman or no goalie at all (given we still believe he’ll target his 2020 MLL Championship-winning goalie and PeakPro business partner Nick Marrocco in the PLL Entry Draft). Yet, the biggest shock came from his decision to take not one, not two, but THREE faceoff specialists in the draft. We discuss whether he takes all three to camp later, but let’s first recap all the picks…

PLL Expansion Draft Results

PickPlayerPositionFormer Team
1.Brodie MerrillLSMWaterdogs LC
2.Connor BuczekMidfieldAtlas LC
3.Ryan DrennerAttackWaterdogs LC
4.Curtis CorleyDefenseArchers LC
5.Reece EddyLSMChrome LC
6.Brent AdamsMidfieldRedwoods LC
7.Jake PulverDefenseChrome LC
8.Josh CurrierAttackArchers LC
9.Drew SimoneauFOWaterdogs LC
10.Deemer ClassMidfieldChaos LC
11.Clarke PettersonAttackRedwoods LC
12.Max TuttleMidfieldWhipsnakes LC
13.Sam DugganMidfieldChrome LC
14.Brendan FowlerFOArchers LC
15.Tommy KellyFOChaos LC
16.Tyson BellSSDMChaos LC
17.Brendan GleasonAttackRedwoods LC
18. Jacob StoverGoalieWhipsnakes LC
Photo courtesy of the PLL

Attack

With the exception of Ryan Drenner, Coach Quirk only drafted role players at the attack position, which should be a sign of what he intends to do in the PLL Entry Draft and PLL College Draft. The decision to draft Drenner was an easy one. He’s young, athletic and has had experience as both a finisher (Florida Launch and Whipsnakes) and primary ball-carrier (Towson and Waterdogs).

The other three players were more surprises (not to Adam Moore, of course), but Josh Currier and Clarke Petterson’s versatility in particular make them great dark horse picks. Brendan Gleason didn’t have a great PLL Championship Series and was a bit of a head scratcher for me, but he also has the ability to play at attack or midfield. While I would have gone with a finisher like Matt Gaudet (who can also shoot from range) or Miles Thompson, the three-player maximum obviously played a factor for those two players.

The Cannons attack is also still lacking an elite lefty (no disrespect to Gleason), yet there are plenty of options joining the league via the entry draft and college draft, and I think we could see a reunion with former Boston Cannon Mark Cockerton or the drafting of Mac O’Keefe if he’s still available.

Photo courtesy of the PLL

Midfield

The midfield was arguably the most by the numbers. It was no surprise to see Brent Adams and Connor Buczek join a midfield that is already headlined by Paul Rabil. While all three of those guys are older, they each have unique skill sets that will compliment each other. Brent Adams is a two-way threat that will help push transition. Buczek can still fire from range and will spread out defenses. And Paul Rabil should see more favorable matchups due to the presence of those two guys (and likely Lyle Thompson), which will hopefully allow him to bounce back this season.

Deemer Class, Max Tuttle and Sam Duggan were also great picks. Class is going to put up points in a variety of ways. We saw how he can score the big goals when called upon, but also use his vision to feed his teammates when needed as well. Max Tuttle and Sam Duggan are both versatile options at the midfield, who can find the back of the net, but also get back in the hole and play defense.

Photo courtesy of the PLL

Defense / LSM /SSDM

As expected, Coach Quirk wasted no time scooping up the plethora of talented poles available, selecting former Boston Cannon Brodie Merrill first overall. Merrill will once again be called to serve as a veteran presence for a young defense that will feature young poles Jake Pulver, Curtis Corley and Reece Eddy. Corley and Pulver are proven close defenders that were no brainers for this Cannons roster and Reece Eddy is sure to be a terror all over the field. Quirk also added short-stick defender Tyson Bell, who can push the ball in transition and play pole if needed.

Photo courtesy of the PLL

Faceoff

Drew Simoneau, Tommy Kelly and Brendan Fowler were all considered the top faceoff prospects heading into the draft, but no one could have predicted that Quirk would splurge for all three. Each faceoff specialist brings a unique skill set to the stripe. Drew Simoneau is a great change of pace option that can win the groundball battles. Tommy Kelly is quick on the clamp and can thrive with proper wing play. Brendan Fowler is a grinder, who will wear opponents down at the stripe. Practice is sure to be a battle if all three remain on the roster heading into camp.

However, a likelier scenario is that one of these three faceoff specialists is moved prior to training camp. Adam told me he thinks Quirk revealed his intention to trade one by selecting all three, where it would have been a bit more coy if he only took two. I, on the other hand, still think there could be some teams desperate enough to make a move, but it will likely come down to who acquires Max Adler, Alex Woodall or Kevin Reisman in the PLL Entry Draft, and whether faceoff-needy teams are willing to wait and gamble on landing TD Ierlan or Gerard Arceri in the college draft.

Photo courtesy of the PLL

Goalie

The only true starter available heading into draft night was Adam Ghitelman, but given he was very public about not wanting to play for any team other than the Archers, it was understandable why Quirk stayed away. That left really only Charlie Cipriano, who had ups and downs last year, a still-injured Jack Kelly and Whips backup Jacob Stover.

I tossed around the idea of Quirk drafting Stover, but I ultimately felt it was a better idea for him to take another field player instead. However, given the three-player maximum, his options were really limited to James Pannell, Brent Noseworthy, Kevin Unterstein, Chris Mattes or Aiden Hynes on the Atlas or Dylan Maltz, Sean New or Matt Hubler on the Whips. With the exception of Hynes and Unterstein, I probably would have taken Stover over those names too.

Does drafting Stover change his plans in regards to Nick Marrocco? Absolutely not. Yet, he now has a solid option in cage as a backup plan in case another team targets his 2020 MLL Championship netminder.

Notable Players Not Selected

The absence of Miles Thompson was probably the biggest shock with the main reason being that the consensus is that Coach Quirk will take his brother Lyle Thompson at #1 overall in the PLL Entry Draft. Choosing to not draft Miles doesn’t diminish the odds that Lyle will be a Cannon, but it does leave one to wonder if Quirk still intends to make a move for Miles or not. I tend to think he doesn’t, but I’ve been wrong before.

Another player I was shocked to see not picked was long-stick middie Troy Reh. Reh has proven himself as a pro the past two seasons and has shown he can both defend and score in transition. I have to believe Quirk at least considered drafting Reh, but ultimately he felt it was a better use of his three-player maximum of Chaos picks on Deemer Class, Tommy Kelly and Tyson Bell.

Some other players that I was surprised were left off were Joe Walters, Mike Simon and Tyler Dunn. Age likely played a factor for the first two players, but Tyler Dunn was a player who showed he could play short-stick or pole and was even the Redwoods’ EBUG last season in the event Tim Troutner or Gunnar Waldt went down. I would have taken Dunn over Tyson Bell, Brendan Gleason or Jacob Stover, but I’m also not a PLL coach and Quirk’s draft was bound to feature some surprises. Not drafting Walters, certainly got the former Terp fired up to compete with the Woods again, and a fired up Walters is not a good thing for the seven other PLL teams.

Overall, going 10-for-18 in predicting the Cannons’ expansion roster wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough to top Adam’s 12-for-18. Kudos to him for nailing the Josh Currier, Clarke Petterson and Sam Duggan picks. I’ll just have to bring my A-game for the PLL Entry Draft and PLL College Draft.

What are your thoughts on the 18 players Coach Quirk drafted in the PLL Expansion Draft predictions? Which new (or returning) Cannon excites you the most? Let us know in the comments or on social media.

Hutton Jackson is a professional video editor, co-founder/host of Pro Lacrosse Talk and editor-in-chief of Lacrosse Playground. He is also an Emmy-winning associate producer with two major sports networks and oversees Lacrosse Playground's video content as the head coordinating producer. Hutton played four years of college lacrosse at DeSales University where his highest lacrosse accolade was being named to Inside Lacrosse's 2014 All-Name Team with current pros Challen Rogers, Deemer Class and Larken Kemp, an honor that didn't require stepping on the field. When he's not writing on lacrosse, he can usually be found diving around the crease in your local men's league and ranting about Baltimore and D.C. professional sports.

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[…] Cannons were the first to go heavy on faceoff talent, drafting three in the 2021 PLL Expansion Draft. Likewise, the Redwoods entered camp with four faceoff men, including the NCAA Div. I career leader […]

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[…] PLL teams were able to protect 14 players from the Cannons in the PLL Expansion Draft. As a result, it would not be the source of star power for the Cannons in their team building […]

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[…] Archers LC added another faceoff option in Noah Rak, who should be a suitable replacement for the loss of Brendan Fowler in the PLL Expansion Draft. […]

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[…] a future fourth rounder feels like a really low return for Brent Adams, Sean Quirk essentially gained Adams for free via expansion and was able to turn him into a draft pick, while also freeing up a roster spot. Given that […]

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[…] 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 […]

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