NLL Expansion Draft 2021: Predicting the Toronto Rock’s protected list

Will the Toronto Rock protect Brad Kri in the expansion draft? (Photo: Anna Taylor)

The deadline for National Lacrosse League teams to submit protected rosters is Tuesday, June 15th. There are two different options for how players may be protected:

  • Five offense, five defense, one goalie (or five O, six D)
  • Four offense, seven defense, one goalie (or four O, eight D)

The most recent expansion draft was held in 2019 when both the Rochester Knighthawks and New York Riptide selected. This will be the first expansion draft with just one team selecting, Panthers LC, since the 2008 Boston Blazers.

Here’s what I believe will be the Toronto Rock’s protected list in both scenarios:

 

5O, 5D, 1G

G: Nick Rose

F: Dan Craig, Dan Dawson, Rob Hellyer, Adam Jones, Tom Schreiber

D: Latrell Harris, Bill Hostrawser, TD Ierlan, Jason Noble, Challen Rogers

 

4O, 7D, 1G

G: Rose

F: Dawson, Hellyer, Jones, Schreiber

D: Mitch deSnoo, Scott Dominey, Harris, Hostrawser, Ierlan, Noble, Rogers

 

Let’s start with the obvious. I’ve ignored the ‘optional’ 5O/6D and 4O/8D arrangements since the Rock will be protecting Nick Rose. Moving on.

The Rock used the first table to protect players in 2019 (5O/5D/1G). It meant leaving one additional player unprotected (offensive players are viewed as a higher commodity), but it also allowed to protect Johnny Powless on a weaker left side. This time around, the left side could still use help, but Dan Dawson, who just signed for two more years, is too enticing to leave on the board.

Defense here was harder. Faceoffs were an issue for Toronto in 2020. The addition of TD Ierlan at the draft could be a massive solve, which is why I believe he is protected. I’ve also protected newly acquired Jason Noble who fits Matt Sawyer’s transition style (they won a Minto Cup together in 2012). This leaves breakout star Scott Dominey unprotected, which I’m not sure Toronto would be happy with. Along with other veterans Sheldon Burns, Damon Edwards (both unprotected in 2019), Mitch deSnoo (protected by Buffalo), and Brad Kri (protected). Could one of them slot in for the unproven Ierlan? Perhaps, but I think it’s too risky given their struggles at the dot the past two seasons. The remainder of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 draft classes are also unprotected.

Which leaves the possibility open for the 4O/7D arrangement. In this example, the toughest decision was which forward to leave available: Craig or Jones? The Rock could gamble that Jones’ recent injury (he played just one game in 2019/20) will scare off Panthers’ brass. Unlikely, given Bob Hamley is their GM, the man who drafted Jones third overall in Colorado in 2011 which is why Craig is unprotected. Again, this still leaves a gaping hole on the left side if he is selected, and he’s a player Toronto that Toronto is fond of, but it comes with the comfort of keeping the trio of Dominey, deSnoo and Noble.

Everywhere Matt Sawyer has coached, defense leading to transition has been the key. I believe the Rock deviate from their 2019 strategy, this time protecting Nick Rose along with the four offensive players and seven defensemen listed in the second table. This leaves the following unprotected:

G: Troy Holowchuk, Riley Hutchcraft

F: Dan Craig, Scott Del Zotto, Jamison Dilks, Zach Manns, Johnny Powless, Reid Reinholdt

D: Daniel Balawejder, Sheldon Burns, Damon Edwards, Adam Jay, Josh Jubenville, AJ Kluck, Brad Kri, Curtis Romanchych, Brandon Slade, Taylor Stuart, Chris Weier

If Jones is unprotected, the choice is simple: Bob Hamley reunites with his former first round pick. I believe there will be more proven goaltending options (looking at you Rochester) but Riley Hutchcraft might be enticing if Hamley believes he’s ready to take the reins, or at least contend. But the choice will be between veteran defenders Brad Kri or Damon Edwards. Both provide defense and durability (Kri hasn’t missed a game in three seasons, while Edwards missed just one over the past six). Both bring a veteran presence to what could end up being a young defense. Edwards is athletic enough to jump in transition. Kri would have the chance to be the first captain in team history.

Take your pick, but at four years younger and past faceoff experience in addition to the above, Brad Kri joins Panthers LC.

Leave a Reply