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10 Man Ride: Let the Offseason Begin

By Joe Keegan

PLL Analyst

Feb 4, 2021

CLEAR! The ride is on. The 2021 Drafts & Player Movement period has been outlined. Some key dates:

  • February 9th: Waiver Wire and Trade Window Open
  • February 28th: Protected Rosters Due
  • March 11th: Cannons LC Expansion Draft
  • March 25th: Entry Draft
  • April 6th: College Draft

For details on the college draft order, protected rosters, and the upcoming entry draft lottery, bookmark our draft central page.

Now, let’s dive into the details and implications of this offseason timeline.

1. 98 Protected Players 

The seven existing teams are allowed to protect 14 players (including at least one goalie) – meaning, in theory, that the top 98 players will be protected.

Only 66 players who were protected ahead of the Waterdogs LC Expansion Draft last offseason. Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan was able to snag several members of the 2019 Players’ Top 50: Connor Kelly (#37), Drew Snider (#41), Ryan Drenner (#42), Brodie Merrill (#45), and Kieran McArdle (#48).

What does this mean for the Cannons LC?

There might not be as much talent in this year’s expansion draft. But if head coach Sean Quirk uses his 18 picks to add glue guys, he can set this roster up for success. The first overall Entry Draft pick (presumably Lyle Thompson) is a blue-chip piece – along with the eighth and ninth overall picks in the College Draft, Quirk will have the opportunity to build a complete roster.

2. Offensive Surplus Incoming 

An influx of offensive talent is on its way. Lyle Thompson, Randy Staats, Dan Bucaro, Mark Cockerton, and more are arriving via the Entry Draft. Michael Sowers, Jeff Teat, Jared Bernhardt, Dox Aitken, and more via the College Draft.

The supply of stud scorers has skyrocketed. The invisible hand will go to work on 14-man protected rosters.

Expect to see defensemen, LSMs, and SSDMs put at a premium. It’ll be tough to replace the talent, for starters. Replacing the fit is another challenge altogether. It’s much easier to plug and play an offensive stud at this level of lacrosse (see: Zed Williams in 2020) than it is to teach a new defender all of his teammates’ tendencies. Defensemen don’t win championships; team defense wins championships.

If a coach is deciding between an offensive player and a defensive player for that fourteenth spot, then he’ll probably lean toward the latter.

3. Crease Collapse of the Week 

While we’re talking about defense… here’s the CCotW.

Reece Eddy and Jesse Bernhardt ambush Ryan Drenner. Count how many times Eddy’s head swivels. He’s expecting a cutter out of this open set, and he arrives on hands.

4. Entry Draft Order Lottery

The Cannons will pick first in each round of the Entry Draft. The remaining order will be selected by an unweighted lottery.

Lyle Thompson is a lock for that top pick. Two and beyond will be intriguing. Jake Watts is bullish on SSDM Zach Goodrich from Towson (a.k.a. D-Mid University), and for good reason. He could go second overall to whoever wins that lottery.

5. #TradeForWard

All-World goalie Dillon Ward didn’t see a second of playing time for Chaos LC in 2020. He backed up two-time Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year Blaze Riorden.

Head coach Andy Towers could receive a lot in return for Ward. Almost every team in the league would be better with Ward between the pipes (or rather five feet outside the crease on his atmospheric arc). Towers won’t give a goalie upgrade away for free by leaving Ward unprotected. If there’s no deal done by February 28th, bet on Chaos keeping two goalies and 12 field players.

Bottom line: The price of Dillon Ward just went up. 

6. Connor Fields Watch

Speaking of Chaos… teams have inquired about Connor Fields, too.

Fields (22G, 11A in 2019) didn’t play in the 2020 postseason. Chaos’ offense began to click without Fields’ slide-baiting post-up play. It’s likely that he has played his last game in a Chaos uniform. The question now: Where will Fields play in 2021?

7. Chaos’ Collection of College Picks

Let me throw one more log on the Chaos trade rumor (rumour*) fire: They own three of the top 15 picks and five of the top 22 picks.

If anyone is equipped to make a trade for a top pick this spring, it’s Andy Towers.

8. Lefty Logjam

There are a lot of left-handed scorers in the PLL right now. It can be tough for those players to coexist as they occupy similar spots on the field – something Kyle Devitte and I debated on his podcast.

Here’s where I stand: It works when one of the lefties is comfortable at X or running out of the box. Redwoods LC’s Matt Kavanagh and Ryder Garnsey swap spots; they’re rarely crowding each other. Attackman Josh Byrne and midfielders Austin Staats and Kevin Buchanan played two- and three-man games to perfection on the lefty wing for Chaos.

Those pairings work – projecting the success future pairings is more complicated.

Dan Bucaro, a Georgetown product who lit up the MLL last summer, can run out of the box without question. Jeff Teat coexisted with Byrne and Mark Matthews on the 2018 Canadian national team. Mac O’Keefe is intriguing; he has range. Could he be paired with an inside shooter on that side? Or is he best slotted alongside a dodging lefty?

It’ll be tougher than ever to crack a roster this summer – and toughest for lefty attackmen.

9. Military Exempt List

Like last year, the Military Exempt List will not count against a team’s 14-man roster. Redwoods LC will retain Matt Landis; Chaos LC keeps Johnny Surdick and Matt Rees.

10. State of the League

For more info on the offseason, check out Director of Player Relations Brian Silcott’s State of the League.

Thanks for reading!

Spread the word, submit any questions you want to see answered in this space to me on Twitter (@joekeegs), and I’ll talk to you next week!

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