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Atlas-Cannons Trade: Paul Rabil to Cannons

By Joe Keegan

PLL Analyst

Mar 1, 2021

Cannons LC has acquired midfielder Paul Rabil and the sixth overall pick in the 2021 Entry Draft. In exchange Atlas LC receives the ninth overall pick in the 2021 Entry Draft, the eighth overall pick in the 2021 College Draft, and a first-round pick in the 2022 College Draft.

The trade was processed on Sunday prior to 14-man protected roster submissions. Rabil becomes the first player on the Cannons, who will select 18 unprotected players in the Expansion Draft on March 11th.

The deal is Atlas’s second major move of the offseason after sending Rob Pannell to Redwoods LC two days into the trade window.

Atlas receives: 9th overall pick in 2021 Entry Draft, 8th overall pick in 2021 College Draft, and a 1st round pick in 2022 College Draft

Atlas LC head coach Ben Rubeor now holds four picks in the Entry Draft (3rd, 9th, 14th, and 22nd overall) and five picks in the College Draft (1st, 8th, 10th, 17th, and 26th overall). He has two first- and two second-round picks in the 2022 College Draft. 

“I knew with an expansion draft and the protected roster, that our roster was going to get trimmed in some way, shape, or form,” said Rubeor.

Rather than trying to retain as much talent as possible prior to Sunday’s 14-man roster deadline, Rubeor pivoted. He set Atlas up to recover in March and April. He went all in on the upcoming drafts.

“It was either go for it – or don’t go for it at all,” said Rubeor on his decision to make multiple big moves. “We just had to go for it.” 

The 2020 Atlas team equaled less than the sum of its parts. The talent was there on paper. But winning in this league is not about finding talent – it’s about fitting talent.

Cannons receive: Paul Rabil and 6th overall pick in 2021 Entry Draft

Cannons LC head coach Sean Quirk has his first player: A veteran leader who has won at the college, professional, and international levels.

“With the type of culture we want to build, Paul was honestly a no-brainer,” said Quirk. “His leadership ability and what he stands for as a man and as a player is going to really benefit our team.”

Rabil can fit anywhere on the field for the Cannons. A midfielder by nature, Rabil ran attack toward the end of his Lizards career – and has alluded toward a full-time move to attack for years.

“Part of [his role] will depend on what shakes out with the other guys we’re able to get,” said Quirk. “That’s the nice thing about Paul; he could play both [midfield or attack].”

Wherever he is on the field, bank on offensive coordinator Sean Kirwan scheming him open for more stepdown shots than he’s seen lately. With the Atlas, only 28.9% of Rabil’s shots were assisted (a steep decline from 46.7% in four years with the Lizards).

As a dodger, Rabil is still able to get his hands free. He demands double teams – especially when he attacks the middle of the field. Some of Atlas’ prettiest offensive sequences started with Rabil drawing and dumping.

Even the best defenses are vulnerable during recoveries. Sending them for a spin on the carousel will help the Cannons create easy looks. Those might not show up in the box score for Rabil – who leads pro lacrosse with 37 second assists since 2015 (next closest is Matt Abbott with 22) – but they contribute to wins. Some, like this three-pass sequence, even go beyond our beyond-the-box-score stats.

The Cannons have the first and sixth overall picks in the Entry Draft to build this roster. (You can guess who they might take with the top pick.) They pick ninth in the College Draft.

In Rabil, they have a proven leader and a versatile playmaker to complement whoever they may add.

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