San Diego Seals Focus on Defence in NLL Expansion Draft

The NLL Expansion Draft for the San Diego Seals and Philadelphia Wings was held Monday afternoon, with each team taking a very different approach. While the Wings snapped up a lot of offensive weapons, the Seals opted instead to stock their roster with defensive assets.

Perhaps not surprisingly, both teams chose to focus on players that live close by, with San Diego taking only west-coast players (with the exception of Turner Evans) and Philadelphia selecting only east-coast players. With most players holding down full-time jobs, travel is a factor in getting players to sign up, so this no doubt impacted the teams’ decisions.

With their first pick, the Seals took Turner Evans, a forward who didn’t play in 2018 due to offseason knee surgery prior to the season. At 25 years of age, Evans is still developing as a player with tremendous upside. He amassed 45 points in the 2017 season while also scooping 74 loose balls. That summer he notched 14 points in six games at the Mann Cup before undergoing the surgery to repair his MCL.

After that, it was all defense for the next six Seals picks. Unrestricted free agent Brett Mydske (2 Goals, 3 Assists, 59 Loose Balls, 15 Caused Turnovers)and Adrian Sorichetti (7G, 8A, 64 LB, 20 CTO) from the NLL champion Saskatchewan Rush’s vaunted defense, followed by Cam Holding (did not play in 2018 due to an ACL injury), Bryce Sweeting (later traded to the Buffalo Bandits for Ethan Schott (3A, 35 LB in 9 games) and a second round pick in this year’s entry draft), goalie Frankie Scigliano (14.34 Goals Against Average), and Garrett McIntosh (6G, 6A, 50 LB, 5 CTO). They finally came back to the offense when they chose Casey Jackson (6G, 4A in 4 games) with their eighth pick, and then they wrapped up with yet another defender, Brendan Ranford.

Holding is a bona fide elite defender, even if he isn’t back to full strength at the start of the season. In his last four seasons with the Colorado Mammoth, Holding never pulled fewer than 108 loose balls, peaking at 160 in 2017. McIntosh is another well established defender who doesn’t mind throwing his weight around (and can also take some faceoffs, if you need him), and Schott also has very good upside, for a kid going into his sophomore season. Sorichetti is an excellent transition man, picking up double-digit points and 50-plus loosies in each of the last three seasons.

Things look pretty solid on the defensive end.

There were a number of question marks with this draft. Evans is coming back from the knee injury, Mydske is an unrestricted free agent, Scigliano is coming off a bad season, and Ranford might want to play hockey instead.

The Mydske problem has been taken care of. As per Global News, the Saskatchewan Rush got Mydske back from the Seals in exchange for four draft picks, including two first rounders this year. Yes, you read that right. Four picks.

So while the Seals focussed on getting an experienced defense in the expansion draft, they now have the first pick overall and two more first round picks—in a deep draft year—to build out what is liable to be a young and very talented offense.

Evans should be ready to play when the upcoming season gets underway, all things being equal. If he’s able to pick up where he left off in 2017, he should be good for at least three, maybe four points per game, making him a decent weapon. But it’s a big if—after all, Athan Ianucci went from setting the NLL record for goals scored in a season to just okay following knee surgery.

The next question is Scigliano. Although he’s coming off a bad year, he has also been the starter for the Calgary Roughnecks in two seasons, including in 2015 when they made their last run at the NLL championship. At 26 years old, there’s no reason to think he can’t bounce back to his historical average of 12.15 goals against, which would probably make the Seals quite happy.

Finally, there’s Ranford. The nephew of former NHL goalie Bill Ranford has already signed a hockey contract to play in Germany for Eisbaeren Berlin in the upcoming season. He did, however, spend the summer playing lacrosse for New Westminster in the WLA, so it remains to be seen which sport he will choose in the coming months.

Overall, when you mix in the trades along the way—and the pre-draft acquisition of Kyle Buchanan—this Seals roster looks to be shaping up nicely. They have a solid foundation on which to build and the opportunity to load up on a ton of young, talented prospects in the entry draft.