Does an NLL team need the draft more than the Buffalo Bandits? Probably not, but the Bandits are left without a first rounder because of the Anthony Cosmo trade.
The Bandits don’t pick until the second round, with the 10th overall pick. The Bandits can probably use defense, or goaltending but with Cosmo there they won’t invest into a goaltender yet. For now, defense is a need but there isn’t much room on the Bandits roster.
There will be a lot of cuts in Bandits land this year after a disappointing season. The entire team is getting older, and veterans Aaron Wilson and Mark Steenhius are two of the younger ones at 33 years old. But what about young star Luke Wiles who struggled? What about Mike Homminuck, who doesn’t seem to have a place in Buffalo anymore?
The Bandits have plenty of young players to test on offense like Carter Bender and Derek Hopcroft, who should all get chances next season. Dhane Smith will soon be the leader of the offense, and Nick Cotter might see another look too. With John Tavares still likely hanging around, there isn’t much room on the roster for offensive players this season.
On defense, there might be some openings. Mike McNamara is liked in Buffalo but what about Glen Bryan, acquired from Toronto and played all 16 games? What about Drew Petkoff who thought he was done, but Buffalo signed him mid season?
The best defender in the draft is Jason Noble but there is no way he slips into the second round, or even past the fifth overall pick in all probability. JJ LaForet or Nick Dianchenko should still be available at that slot for defense.
Buffalo then picks again with the 14th pick where they can try for some more defense. What they don’t need are anymore projects; they need players who can step right into the NLL. Or, thanks to the league’s agreement with the Canadian Lacrosse League, go down and play there for the time being.
The Bandits might want a total rebuild and we could see trades surrounding some veteran players for picks. If they do this they will plan to go young and these kids will probably play. Will lefty forward Brandon Goodwin be around in the second round? If so he could be an option for the 14th pick. All three lefty shooters at forward are older veterans with their futures unclear. Will Shawn Williams stay in Buffalo? Can Tavares do it again? Goodwin might be a good young option at lefty forward.
Buffalo picks again at #18. If they want a righty forward (no guarantee many veterans stay there either) Riley Loewen or Rob Pannell might still be around. Next pick is 20th, on to the third round, and another defender like Mitch Wilde could be worth a shot at.
Buffalo then doesn’t pick again until the early fifth round. This is where they might feel willing to take some risks and see what they can do with young players on the practice roster or in CLax. That player could be someone like Peter Baum, who probably won’t play in 2014, or Zach Palmer.
The Bandits’ last pick comes at the top of the second round, and it’s hard to predict that. The Bandits need a very strong draft but without a first rounder, things will be tough. We might see Buffalo’s attempt at a rebuild through this draft. But things can change fast. Don’t be surprised if this draft order is different come September.