Defending Champion Denver Outlaws Change It Up

Geoff Snider

Prior to the supplemental draft the Outlaws shipped the every-reliable Terry Kimener to Charlotte in exchange for faceoff guru Geoff Snider. Some may remember that the Outlaws drafted Snider as the 17th overall pick (2nd round) in the 2006 college draft so this is Snider’s second tour of duty with the team. Snider is no stranger to the Denver area, having played college ball at the University of Denver.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this acquisition isn’t how familiar Snider is with the team and Denver area, but his sheer tenacity at the faceoff dot. Snider is on a par with the best in the world at his position, the Ecks and Gurenlians of the world, as it were. Anthony Kelly has been a steady presence on faceoffs when he’s healthy, but Kelly’s knees have been a nagging issue in recent years. Snider functions as a more-than-serviceable alternative who can spell Kelly when he’s healthy or replace him in the lineup if he’s injured.

Given Snider’s NLL commitments he may not be available at the start of the year, but this also means that when (if?) he reports to the Outlaws, sharing the workload with Kelly results in less wear and tear on both faceoff specialists.

The big question for Snider is the same of so many Canadian players: will he play? The last time Snider played in more than two MLL games in a season was 2011, when he played in 8, plus another two in the playoffs. With the bevy of former DU players and Canadians on the Outlaws roster, the likelihood of Snider playing seems higher than it was in the past few years.

Overall grade: B+ (if Snider reports; if he doesn’t report drop this grade to a D)

Tim Henderson

Picking up Henderson in the supplemental draft could be a major steal for the Outlaws. He plays a physical game, and MLL fans who have seen the careers of Nicky Polanco and Brian Spallina unfold over the years will understand how important having someone like that anchoring your backline can be.

The Outlaws already have Dillon Roy as a feisty closer defense and adding Henderson could be a one-two punch like the Polanco-Spallina combo that New York and Chesapeake (and Hofstra) experienced over the years.

As a West Point grad Henderson is no stranger to the importance of teamwork. Don’t be surprised if he gels with his teammates faster than a tongue sticks to a frozen pole.

Considering the Outlaws picked Henderson up in the supplemental draft I’d give this move an A-, with upward trajectory likely.

Dillon Ward/Curtis Dickson

The most intriguing move by the Outlaws was the Ward/Dickson trade. NLL fans are used to seeing Superman, er… Dickson flying through creases across the U.S. and Canada. He was made for the indoor game and it’s clear he loves it. When Dickson graduated from Delaware in 2010 he didn’t register for the MLL draft. In fact, he didn’t bother to fill out his paperwork until 2012 when Denver selected him in the sixth round of the expansion draft. He didn’t suit up for the Outlaws until last summer. Dickson basically said the main reason he played MLL last year was to knock the rust off of his field lacrosse game in preparation for the FIL World Championship in Denver.

He made an immediate splash, notching 16 points (11 G, 5 A) in a mere five games. He last donned the orange and black against Boston on July 4, the only game in which he was held pointless. The World Championships started about a week later and he didn’t rejoin the Outlaws afterward.

The point I’m trying to make here is that while yes, Curtis Dickson is an electric player and MLL fans would love to have him around, his desire to play the field game just doesn’t seem to be there. It was savvy of the Outlaws to hold on to him as long as they did because he was an impact player for them in 2014, but the likelihood of his return to the Outlaws, let alone the MLL is slim at best.

So while some may have scratched their heads when Denver shipped Dickson’s rights to the Florida launch it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

In exchange for Dickson the Outlaws got one of the best stoppers in the world. Dillon Ward has made his mark indoors with the Colorado Mammoth. Surely the fact that Ward was hanging around in Denver already made the move appealing to him.

Ward led the NCAA in save percentage his senior year at Bellarmine and backstopped Canada to a gold medal at the FIL World Championship. He played in four games with the Hamilton Nationals in 2013, but sat out 2014. If he reports to the Outlaws he will be more than just a serviceable backup (goalie Charlie Cipriano was also dealt to the Launch in the deal) and could split time in cage with Jesse Schwartzmnn. The move could lengthen the careers of both keepers if the team elects to go that route, and it would allow the team to begin groomming Ward to be the number one goalie after Jesse Schwartzman decides to call it a career.

So let’s recap: The Outlaws traded their backup goalie and an all-star caliber player, who doesn’t have any interest in playing MLL for one of the best young goalies in the world. Even if Ward elects to take a break from MLL the Outlaws didn’t give up too much for his rights. I’d give that move a solid A (with the caveat that Ward reports).

Max Schmidt

Schmidt joins the Outlaws with a solid pedigree. He was a four-year starter at Maryland where he was a three-time All-American. In recent years Maryland proved itself as a team that generates top notch defensive talent. After graduating in 2011, Schmidt played for the Ohio Machine for three seasons (2012-2014) before being dealt to the Outlaws in the recent off-season.

Will replacing one former Terrapin (Lee Zink) with another work for Denver? Ohio is a team that struggled mightily in recent years before their breakthrough in 2014. Still, most of that was propelled by the team’s bevy of offensive weapons. The back half of the field remained a big question mark, especially in terms of depth at close D. Having Jesse Schwartzman behind him as field general should help Schmidt get up to speed quickly. The real test here is how soon he will be able to gel with his new teammates.

I’d give this move a solid B. Schmidt has a lot of potential in the Denver organization. Plus, he lives in Las Vegas so he’ll likely appreciate playing closer to home–a win-win for both.