The PLL protected player rosters have dropped, sending lacrosse fans into a frenzy about who will be available via expansion draft to the seventh PLL club, Waterdogs LC. Here’s a look at which players were protected and who is now available for Coach Andy Copelan to select in the expansion draft.
Protected Player Rosters
They went with Adams over Ghitelman in net as many expected. Coach Bates also put a premium at SSDM and kept both Marcus McNeill and Dominique Alexander, opting to make more offensive one-sided middies like Ben McIntosh and Joey Sankey available. Archers also kept Stephen Kelly at faceoff and let attackman Christian Cuccinello go. They do have Pat Spencer potentially joining this summer at attack, but this could also be a signal that the Archers plan to use the first pick on an attackman like Grant Ament or Michael Sowers rather than faceoff specialist TD Ierlan.
Atlas let their entire 2019 college draft class hit the expansion pool (Ryan Conrad, Cade Van Raaphorst, Noah Richard, Brent Noseworthy). Conrad is surprising because two-way middies who can play the wing are so valuable, and he checks all those boxes. Joel Tinney being available falls into the same category. Even Kieran McCardle is available. I could see the Atlas easily going beyond four players lost if not for the four-player cap on draftees. Atlas has pick number two in the college draft to address wherever they get hit hardest, be it with Dox Aitken, JT Giles Harris, or any of the stud attackmen.
Miles Thompson is available and you have to think he gets taken. The bomb squad stays basically intact. Curtis Dickson didn’t appear once for the Chaos due to injury, but he’s a special talent and if healthy can be an impact player. The longtime vet Brodie Merrill also hits the pool, and that must have been a brutal decision for Head Coach Andy Towers. The Chaos get three players kept due to exemptions, which goes a long way. Greyson Torain for some reason is not classified that way, but he likely remains with the team.
The big surprise here is what everyone noticed immediately: both Romar Dennis and Max Tuttle are available. The Chrome didn’t hit many two’s last season (eight all summer), and Dennis hit one, and took 11. He’s one of those guys with huge two way and two bomb potential, so surprising to see him go. Tuttle is a do it all guy and you might think he’d get protected as those are valuable. All in all, I don’t expect Chrome to lose much.
Redwoods had some very tough calls to make. Landis being exempted for active military was a surprise to many, but it frees up a spot for the Woods. They keep their entire attack and defense together. At midfield, they opt to keep Kyle Harrison, who is invaluable in the locker room and as a leader, but didn’t do much statistically this summer. Doing so means they lose Sergio Salcido, Pat Harbeson, and Jack Near to the draft pool.
Lots of brutal calls for the defending champs. Keeping the league MVP, all their two-way middies, and their entire defense means guys like Drew Snider, Ben Reeves, Ryan Drenner, Connor Kelly, and Joe Locascio hit the player pool. I thought the versatility of Kelly would get him a spot over one of the poles, but far be it from me to question Coach Stagnitta.
The expansion draft allows the Waterdogs to select 18 players from the unprotected pool. Only a maximum of four players can be taken from each club. After four are taken, all remaining players in the pool from that particular club return to their original team. There will also be a new player draft and collegiate draft before the summer for the Waterdogs to further bolster their ranks along with the rest of the league. Here’s who I’d take, listed by position for ease and because order really doesn’t matter as far as I can tell.
- Adam Ghitelman, G, Archers
- Jack Kelly, G, Redwoods
Just like that, the goalie situation for the Waterdogs is done. A proven starter and a backup who, if not playing behind the Rookie of the Year, would likely start himself.
- Romar Dennis, M, Chrome
- Max Tuttle, M, Chrome
- Ryan Conrad, M, Atlas
- Connor Kelly, M/A, Whipsnakes
- Drew Snider, M, Whipsnakes
- Sergio Salcido, M, Redwoods
- Pat Harbeson, M, Redwoods
I’m taking Dennis in a heartbeat. Conrad and Tuttle are do-it-all guys that are super valuable in the PLL rule set. I absolutely plunder the Redwoods at midfield for Salcido and Harbeson who fill every stat in the book. Snider provides firepower and veteran leadership, and Kelly can play anywhere.
- Ryan Drenner, A, Whipsnakes
- Ben Reeves, A, Whipsnakes
- Miles Thompson, A, Chrome
- Christian Cuccinello, A, Archers
- Kieran McCardle, A, Atlas
This group has two Tewaaraton winners in it (Thompson and Reeves). That’s how deep attack is. Drenner was pivotal for the Whips this year and you have to think he was next on their list of guys to keep. Kieran McCardle was a stud for Atlas in 2019 and has been a valuable starter at the pro level for some time, he’s an easy choice to lead the attack for Waterdogs. Cuccinello brings a physical presence to round out this attack group.
- Noah Richard, D, Atlas
- Cade Van Raaphorst, D Atlas
- Brodie Merrill, D, Chaos
- Brian Karalunas, LSM, Redwoods
I actually don’t take much at defense since so many poles got protected and instead opt to address this spot in the new entry and collegiate drafts to follow. Richard and Van Raaphorst showed they are valuable starters in their first season, and Brodie Merrill, ageless wonder, provides a veteran voice and leadership to what could be a young group.
And yes, you read this correctly, I didn’t take a faceoff specialist. I didn’t expect the protected pool to have so many faceoff men in it, and the leftovers aren’t so impressive as to warrant a slot here for me. If I had to take one, I’d take Brendan Fowler of Archers and drop Cuccinello at attack. Gurenlian would be the fifth Woods member taken, and there are other members of the Redwoods not on this list that are unprotected I’d take ahead of him.
The collegiate draft is loaded at attack, and it’s a spot where the Waterdogs more than likely find a player that is an immediate starter-level player if they decide they want to take a faceoff specialist in the expansion draft.
Notable Close Calls
Some noteworthy guys who I predict will go back to their teams:
Jack Near – The Redwoods luck out and keep one of their strong SSDMs and transition threats.
Joel Tinney – The Atlas middie stays with the Bulls, but just because only four players can go.
Chris Cloutier – See Joel Tinney.
Joey Sankey – Archers keep their swiss army knife for the offensive end.
Curtis Dickson – As I have said, he’s an impact guy, but I need to know he’s actually going to play this summer before I draft him. If he’s in for summer 2020, it would be a no brainer for the Waterdogs to grab him.
Joe Locascio – The four-player rule strikes again and strikes multiple times for the Whips, obviously to the benefit of Coach Jim Stagnitta and the defending champs.
Greg Gurenlian – Woods keep their veteran faceoff man, as Beast would be the fifth man taken.
What do you think of Dan Arestia’s mock draft based on the players available? Who would you pick to join the Waterdogs for their inaugural season? Let us know in the comments below!