The Long Island Lizards were one of the biggest surprises and success stories of the 2012 MLL season.
It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Lizards but thanks to great goaltending, great face-off play and the quick rise of a number of rookies, amongst other things, the Lizards finished 8-6 and reached Championship Weekend, before losing in the first round to the Denver Outlaws (and by losing I mean giving up a nine-goal lead in the second half).
The ending may have been disappointing but the season as a whole for the Lizards was a success.
When it came time to release the 23-man protected roster there were some obvious selections thanks to some invaluable veterans and talented young players.
Itâ€™s no surprise Goalie of the Year Drew Adams was protected. Same goes for Greg Gurenlian, Max Seibald, Matt Gibson, Tommy Palasek, Brian Karalunas, C.J. Costabile, Will Mangan and Stephen Peyser.
The boredom of easy selections continues with Brian Langtry, Ryan Young, Grant Catalino, the Untersteins, Chris Passavia, Michael Skudin, Tim Henderson and Albert Maione. These were all reliable players for the Lizards this season and most, like Skudin, Henderson and Catalino, have a lot of potential for the future.
And donâ€™t think the Lizards were going to give up the rights to first overall pick Rob Pannell, as well as seventh round selection Charlie Streep. Pannell was the gem of last yearâ€™s draft and Streep can put points on the board. Both missed last season due to ACL injuries and, although theyâ€™ll be playing another year of college, should be nice additions to an already talented young team once they graduate.
So thereâ€™s 19 guys that were no-brainers. With four spots remaining the Lizards had two huge surprises to their protected lists: Zack Greer and Sam Bradman.
Both played for the LXM Tour last summer. Bradman chose LXM over MLL coming out of college and Greer hasnâ€™t suited up for the Lizards since 2010.
Both are players with loads of talent, but is there any interest in suiting up for the Lizards?
If playing for the Lizards is the issue, both hold a lot of trade value and would be enticing to other teams around the league. The Lizards could get some more valuable assets in return for the rights to either one of these players. So while protecting two guys who didnâ€™t play for the team definitely raised some eyebrows the potential reward, should they return or be traded, is too high to let these guys go unprotected.
Parker McKee is the guy with the worst luck not getting protected.
He was seventh on the team in ground balls (25), ahead of Costabile, Passavia and Skudin, who all played in more games than McKee. Heâ€™s a solid player with a good college resume to back him.
Also, after Adams no goalie was left protected. It will be interesting to see what direction the Lizards go to back-up the best goalie in the league.
This is a very young roster that played very well together last season. They grew and developed as a team and thereâ€™s still a lot more improving to be done. Long Island was able to protect the core of their team, the rights to Pannell for when he comes into the league this year as well as the tradable assets of the rights to Greer and Bradman.
This will be a big off-season for the Lizards.