Major Series Lacrosse held its annual draft of graduating junior players on January 29. Thirty players were selected from 12 different centres around Ontario to join the ranks of the summer elite and help prepare them for a career in professional lacrosse.
The Orangeville Northmen led the draft with eight players being taken from their junior A team. Joel Coyle, Dallas Bridle and Austin Divitcos were taken in the first round, while Trevor Smyth, Andy Campbell and Lucas Ducharme went in the second round. Jamie McMahon and Nolan Clayton were third-round picks.
Each MSL team has a junior affiliate from which they can protect up to four graduating players, meaning they are automatically property of the senior team (although that’s no guarantee, like the draft, that they’ll make the team).
Orangeville is not associated with an MSL team, and being a perennially contending team, always has a lot of players that can be chosen.
But it was another junior lacrosse hotbed that saw the first pick in the draft from their program; Chris Cloutier of the KW Braves was taken by the Cobourg Kodiaks.
“Drafting Chris Cloutier first was an easy decision as he was the best player in the draft,” said Kodiaks GM John Webb. “He is a dynamic left-shooting forward who instantly upgrades our offense. He put up great numbers in Jr. A and played for the KW Kodiaks [prior to their move two years ago] briefly as a call-up and showed he was ready physically. He is currently attending North Carolina and coming off an NCAA D1 National Championship.”
KW had three other players chosen in the draft: Cobourg also selected Drake Smith (Dhane’s younger brother) while Cody Filson and Pat Masterson went to the Peterborough Lakers. The Kodiaks also took three players from the Peterborough Jr. A Lakers – Dylan Hutchison, Cole McWilliams and Josh Miller.
The Kodiaks also gambled and drafted Logan Holmes, a highly-touted Jr. B prospect who ripped up the league with 145 points in just 20 games this past summer, captaining his team to the Western Conference final where they lost to the Orangeville Jr. B club.
“Holmes is a player who we have been watching very closely. He was a late cut by the Buffalo Bandits and is currently playing in the Arena Lacrosse League with Paris,” noted Webb. “He is another lefty who put up huge points in Windsor Jr. B. He chose to stay near home to play junior lacrosse and is excited to join Cobourg this summer. Physically he is ready for the senior level and if his showing at Bandits camp is any indication, he is ready to play in Major Series Lacrosse.”
Since there is no junior program in the area, the Toronto Beaches system is the closest to Cobourg. From the Beaches the Kodiaks protected Joel Tinney, who is currently starring at Johns Hopkins.
Also with a different junior centre is the Oakville Rock, who are associated with the Burlington Chiefs. Halton Hills as well as Oakville itself boast successful Jr. B teams but Burlington is the closest Jr. A centre. The Rock protected the maximum four players in Nolan Apers, Justin Martin, Chris Young, and Laughlin Elder while drafting Bridle from Orangeville and James Barclay from Mimico in the first round.
The Brampton Excelsiors protected Brandon Robinson from their junior club. They had one pick in the first round and selected Connor Brown at second overall from Halton Hills Jr. B. The Excelsiors also took goaltender Nolan Clayton in the third round. Clayton is currently playing for the Peterborough Timbermen of the ALL, learning to face shots from older, stronger players.
The Brooklin Redmen chose to protect only Connor Laird from the Whitby Warriors. Divitcos was their first-round selection. They went local with their other three picks, choosing Sean Darroch and Nick Karam from Whitby and Rylee McKinnon from Clarington.
For the second year in a row the Lakers protected four graduating juniors. Last season Zach Currier, Holden Cattoni, Bryce Sweeting and Jake Withers all made big impacts in their first MSL season, but the Lakers are running out of roster spots for junior grads, so expect some real competition in training camp this spring. Hopeful to be joining the senior ranks are junior captain Dan Michel, Cam Milligan, Thomas Hoggarth and Matt Gilray.
Hoggarth and Gilray finished their junior careers with the Orangeville Northmen, but rules state that their rights revert to Peterborough.
The Lakers selected Brett Coons, a fifth local boy, with their first pick in the draft which didn’t come until the third round.
Coons knows he’s in tough to crack the roster this season but is happy for the chance to impress the coaching staff.
“It’s a great feeling being drafted to the Lakers, I’ve played in the organization all the way up and there’s nowhere I’d rather play,” Coons said. “I have to show up to camp in as good of shape as possible and hope I can show something they’re looking for. Peterborough has a great lacrosse heritage that I’m hopeful I can contribute to.”
The Six Nations Chiefs protected Brendan Bomberry, Kellen Leclair and Zach Miller. Leclair is already an NLL star, suiting up for the Calgary Roughnecks and will have no trouble fitting in fulltime with the Chiefs after seeing some action in 2016 as a call-up. The Chiefs didn’t pick until the fourth round, when they selected Oran Horn, also a Six Nations product.
The MSL schedule will be released in early March.
Full draft results:
- Cobourg – Chris Cloutier, KW Braves
- Brampton – Connor Brown, Halton Hills Bulldogs
- Cobourg – Joel Coyle, Orangeville
- Oakville – Dallas Bridle, Orangeville
- Brooklin – Austin Divitcos, Orangeville
- Oakville – James Barclay, Mimico Mountaineers
- Cobourg – Dylan Hutchison, Peterborough Lakers
- Brampton – Dereck Downs, Mimico
- Brampton – Liam Wright, Sarnia Jr B
- Oakville – Trevor Smyth, Orangeville
- Cobourg – Andy Campbell, Orangeville
- Brampton – Lucas Ducharme, Orangeville
- Peterborough – Brett Coons, Peterborough
- Brampton – Bennett Drake, Whitby Warriors
- Cobourg – Jamie McMahon, Orangeville
- Brampton – Nolan Clayton, Orangeville
- Brooklin – Sean Darroch, Whitby
- Peterborough – Cody Filson, KW Braves
- Cobourg – Drake Smith, KW
- Cobourg – Logan Holmes, Windsor Jr B
- Oakville – Andrew Mullen, Toronto Beaches
- Six Nations – Oran Horn, Six Nations Arrows
- Brooklin – Rylee McKinnon, Clarington Shamrox Jr C
- Peterborough – Will Petschenig, Clarington Green Gaels Jr B
- Cobourg – Cole McWilliams, Peterborough
- Cobourg – Josh Miller, Peterborough
- Oakville – Matthew Lee, Mimico
- Oakville – Eddie Renaud, Oakville Jr B
- Brooklin – Nick Karam, Whitby
- Peterborough – Pat Masterson, KW