This past Wednesday, Major League Lacrosse held its annual supplemental draft with former Florida Launch goaltender Benny Pugh going first overall to the Boston Cannons.
Teams can only protect 19 players prior to the start of the season, so the supplemental draft helps teams re-stock their rosters to the allowed 35 players. At this point, it’s safe to say that the MLL talent pool more resembles a waterpark in size than an actual pool, with players like Dillon Ward, Ryan Ambler and Mark Matthews being made available.
The supplemental draft proves critical to every team’s success as the overlap between the NLL and MLL means that MLL teams never finish the season with a roster resembling the one from opening day. The supplemental draft allows teams to add depth while star players are away the first three to four weeks of the season fulfilling indoor commitments.
Coaches depend on these players to get the franchise through the first few weeks. Doing poorly in the first portion of the season almost certainly dooms a team to the bottom of the standings. In addition to getting teams over the indoor overlap, many of the supplemental players provide depth later on in the season in case of injury.
This season the MLL also has the FIL World Championship to contend with. The championship sees many games played over a short period which leads to fatigue under normal circumstances, but the addition of long flights and short recovery time take on a new sense of urgency. Luckily, the FIL and MLL have only three dates that overlap, so players won’t miss many games, but travel and recovery remain legitimate concerns.
Atlanta entered the draft with a new coach in Liam Banks who took over after Dave Huntley passed away. They took Dylan Donahue with the second overall pick as they needed a proven ball-handler and scorer as they traded James Pannell to Boston. With their next pick, the Blaze selected middie Jack Bruckner from Duke. After that, the Blaze selected six middies and four defensemen. Two goalies made their way onto the roster in an effort to provide Adam Ghitelman some backup. Atlanta only took one more attackman as they apparently felt confident in that position. They also reunited the Noble twins, re-drafting Jeremy who had been left off of their protected list and adding Jason.
After Pugh, the Cannons used their other first-round pick on defenseman Tanner Scales. Prior to the draft, Boston traded for defenseman/LSM Scott Firman and attackman James Pannell. These trades allowed the Cannons to stockpile midfielders as they selected five middies, three attackmen and another goalie. Last season proved difficult for the proud franchise from Boston to accept and they look to rebound this season with a stacked defense, potent attack, a proven face-off specialist and depth at the goalie position.
Charlotte picked third in the first round and selected Adam Osika, the big midfielder from Albany who spent last season in Atlanta. The Hounds then added middie TJ Neubauer as they began stockpiling the midfield with five more middies selected followed by two attackmen. Charlotte stood pat on goalie and defense as they only selected one of each during the whole draft. The Hounds proved a confounding team as they played well in some games and appeared poised to return to the playoffs as their roster began to coalesce after the indoor season. Charlotte appeared to be selecting players who are geographically close and have few indoor commitments.
Chesapeake saw Dave Cottle return to the sidelines in a coaching role after Brian Reese’s departure. The Bayhawks picked fourth and selected defenseman Luke Duprey and then followed Charlotte and selected five middies. With Brian Phipps and Niko Amato in goal, Chesapeake added three new defensemen to play in front of them. The Bayhawks only took two attackmen as they are loaded at that position.
The Rattlers held their first draft as the Dallas franchise and went midfield heavy with their first and second-round picks coming out of Villanova (Jack Curran and John Moderski). Dallas took a total of seven midfielders, one defenseman, and one attackman. The Rattlers took two goalies as insurance for John Galloway who has both coaching and Team USA obligations. This draft was especially important for the Rattlers as it was the first one without Tim Soudan, who did not make the move to Dallas. The Rattlers have been a staple in the MLL post-season the past few seasons and feel they have unfinished business, so surprisingly kept their core relatively intact.
Denver selected defenseman Chris Fennell from Navy with their first-round pick. The Outlaws then picked six middies, two goalies and four attackmen. Picking so many goalies makes sense for Denver as Jack Kelly will play Team USA. The concern for the attack selected is that Denver has two proven stars in Eric Law and Matt Kavanagh. Brent Adams, Josh Hawkins and Noah Molnar give the Outlaws one of the fastest sets of SSDMs in the league so any middie trying to make the team has to be able to mesh with the offense. They also picked up Shawn Evans, who scored 14 points for Chesapeake in 2017. The Outlaws are probably hoping to entice Evans to play more games this season by reuniting him with John Grant Jr., a good friend and former teammate from Peterborough, Ont.
With their first selection, the Launch took attackman Tom Moore. Florida had perhaps the most balanced supplemental draft class with five defensemen, three midfielders, three attackmen and one goalie. The Launch stayed in-state for two sections as Conor Whipple and Riley Piper from University of Tampa landed on the roster. Whatever the Launch are doing under coach Tom Mariano they need to keep doing it, as they now have enough talent to make another run at the championship.
New York Lizards
The Lizards took defensemen Greg Danseglio with their first pick, which didn’t occur until the second round. Overall they added four middies, three attack men, three four defensemen and two goalies. Both goalies, Brian Neff and Brian Carcaterra, were picked in the auxiliary round – and were the last two picks in the draft. The Lizards didn’t have a bad 2017, going 7-7, so they’ll probably make only a few tweaks to their roster this season and hope for their players improve with some more familiarity.
What does one add after winning a championship? Coach Davis and the Machine went with six attackmen, five defensemen, three midfielders, and one goalie. Kyle Bernlohr and Scott Rodgers appear to have the goalie position on lock unless there is a trade in the make, but they acquired Evan Molloy anyway. The choice of six attackmen is curious as the Machine have a strong unit with Marcus Holman, Connor Cannizzaro, and Mark Cockerton. Then again, anytime you have the chance to pick up both Garrett Thul and Mark Matthews, two lefty hammers on attack, it’s a no brainer. Like Florida, Ohio stayed at home and picked up JT Blubaugh from Ohio State. Given that, Ohio’s defense proved one of the most efficient last season; it may prove difficult for any of these supplemental players to land a roster spot.