NLL Training Camp Preview: Buffalo Bandits

When the latest NLL CBA was signed last year, every team in the NLL reduced their active rosters from 23 to 20 players and increased their practice rosters from three to four. With the existing limitations to the active roster, Buffalo Bandits GM Steve Dietrich and head coach Troy Cordingley definitely have their work cut out for them to make sure that the team’s best lacrosse players will secure each and every precious coveted roster spot. The good news in all of this is that both Dietrich and Cordingley have three scrimmages and five overall weeks of training camp to make their decision before final rosters are due to the league. At this same time last year, Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley forewarned, “…it’s going to be difficult.  We have to get down to 20.  There’s going to be some players who will be left off.”

The shorter rosters will be on the minds of everyone at the opening of Saturday’s Buffalo Bandits training camp because it means there’s more competition between players, difficult coaching decisions to made, and an increased demand for players to be productive in all aspects of their game. For this year’s incoming Bandits draft class of 2015 and freshly signed free agent players who are on the outside looking in, there’s going to be plenty of competition in all areas.

Another bit of good news for the coaching staff this year is that with the high level of competition bringing out the best in everyone, the veterans will definitely not want to lose their spot to the younger players who are gunning for those spots.

With the transition in the NLL to a more high powered offensive output than more of a physical defensive status, Bandits players like 2014 team scoring champion Ryan Benesch will have to make sure that they are in peak physical condition and ready to go for camp.

During the 2014 season we also saw the extension of the regular season go from 16 games to 18 games. The extended schedule will also give the coaching staff another way of evaluating who they would like to keep on their roster and who they would like to see as more of a reserve role to help the starters deal with the extensive physical demands of the lengthier schedule.

One player who definitely benefitted from the reserve role in 2014 was second round draft pick Mitch Wilde. When transition specialist Andrew Watt was sidelined for half of the season due to injuries, it was Wilde who stepped in and helped use his speed and scoring touch to help propel the Bandits forward into the Eastern Conference finals.

Looking ahead to the Buffalo Bandits 2015 NLL training camp schedule, they will be on their home turf with two on-field sessions at the First Niagara Center for their first week of training camp. The first of three scrimmages that the Bandits have scheduled will begin during week 3 on Saturday December 6th against the New England Black Wolves at home. The second and third scrimmages will occur during week 4 when they face the Toronto Rock on December 13th at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre and the following day against the Colorado Mammoth at home.

The biggest issues the Bandits faced this off-season has been upgrading the left side of their offense of their team and trying to find out if incoming defenseman Nick Weiss will be able to fill the defensive role that Rory Smith left behind.

Hopefully, the Bandits incoming draft class, Nick Weiss and CLAX superstars like Corey Fowler and Dave Diruscio will help to make Dietrich and Cordingley’s roster decisions that much harder and the fans in Banditland will definitely receive the best possible team to hit the floor and come away with the victory.