The general rule of thumb in my book is to never rate a draft right after it happens. In our instant reaction world, it is difficult to sit back and wait to see what you have. This especially holds true in Major League Lacrosse. Even though the draft is in January, players often are not able to join their team until 3-4 games into the season, if not longer. Usually, it is good to give a draft at least a full year or two before fully evaluating what you have. But, with the announcement of the 2016 MLL All-Star team, four of the 40 selections came from the Class of 2015. Here is a snap shot of those four players, plus a look at a few others from last year’s draft they we may see as All Stars in the next few years.
Connor Buczek, Florida (#2 overall). Buczek has used the 2-point arc to his advantage and is establishing himself as one of the best outside shooters in the game. He continually works on his game and he has progressed as a pro faster than most had thought.
Joey Sankey, Charlotte (2nd round, #9 overall). Sankey is already one of the most exciting players in the league. He can do so many things with the ball in his crosse, but he also excels at getting open off the ball as well. His speed makes him hard to defend.
Kevin Rice, Atlanta (4th round, #23 overall by Florida). Its been a crazy pro journey for Rice already. Drafted by Florida, traded to Rochester, had an excellent rookie year with the Rattlers, then traded again this time to the expansion Atlanta Blaze. No matter who he is playing for, Rice can rack up the points. He made an excellent one-two punch with Jordan Wolf last season and now is developing that same chemistry with Randy Staats. He can play all three attack positions and his versatility has allowed him to excel.
Randy Staats, Atlanta (4th round, #29 overall by Rochester). Staats could not find a home in the Rattlers crowded attack line last season, but is taking advantage of a great situation in Atlanta. Staats and Rice have the Blaze relevant right away. He is already one of the most accurate shooters in the game.
Lyle Thompson, Florida (#1 overall). Thompson’s recent move to middie should allow him more opportunities to dodge instead of slowing the game down with one-on-one box moves as he will draw a short stick most of the time. He started off quick last season, but is experiencing a sophomore slump.
Jesse King, Rochester (#6 overall). King has only played four games so far in his career, but the scoring explosion so far is exactly why Tim Soudan took a risk last season drafting him so high in hopes that he could convince him to come to Rochester. He has 12 goals in four games and is an excellent catch and shoot finisher.
Joe Nardella, Boston (5th round, #36 overall). Nardella has taken the bulk of the face-offs for the Cannons this season as he is converting at 60% in six games. If he continues this pace, not only will he phase out Craig Bunker, but he will work his way into one of the best FOGOs in the league.
Week 8 Game Balls
Dave Lawson, New York. Lawson had four goals including the game winner in OT to lead the Lizards past the upstart Blaze. His OT winner was off a feed from Paul Rabil while the other three were created by Lawson.
Ty Thompson, Rochester. Filling in for Jeremy Boltus, who was away on a military assignment, Thompson had three goals and three assists to lead the Rattlers attack vs. Chesapeake.
Mike Chanenchuk, Charlotte. Chanenchuk finished with three goals, a 2-pointer, and two assists as the Hounds got back on the winning track against Boston.
Connor Buczek, Florida. Buczek tallied four goals, a 2-pointer, two assists in Florida’s shootout win over Denver. He is now tied with Max Seibald for the MLL lead in 2-pointers with four.
Week 8 MLL Top 9
1- Ohio (6-2) Brutal schedule has them in the middle of three games in seven days.
2- New York (5-1) Defense is giving up nearly 17 goals per game.
3- Rochester (3-3) Galloway and defense surrendered single digit goals in back to back games.
4- Chesapeake (4-3) Getting Myles Jones could catapult Chesapeake into championship contender.
5- Boston (4-4) Will Manny has been struggling to find the back of the net.
6- Charlotte (4-3) Still a work in progress, but they have the talent.
7- Atlanta (2-4) Tough one goal loss to New York.
8- Denver (2-5) Defense is really struggling in 6 v. 6.
9- Florida (1-6) Things look bleak in South Florida.
Brendan McDaniels is a color analyst for the MLL Television broadcasts. Follow Brendan on Twitter @McDanielsSports.