... during a Premier Lacrosse League game on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019 in Albany, N.Y. (Steve Luciano/AP Images for Premier Lacrosse League)

Club Needs Headed into the College Draft

By Jake Watts | May 9, 2020

The 2020 College Draft is here. Every team is tasked with projecting young talent and selecting the best fit for their team. Each club also conducts an internal evaluation to identify deficiencies from last season then creates a draft board. The board is usually a combination of team needs and best player available. Let’s dive into the areas of need for each club. 

Archers LC had an up and down 2019. The offense featured the top goal scorers in the league but came up short in the playoffs. However, the club earned the rights to the No. 1 overall pick and have their eye on an attackman. The offense is missing a dodging presence behind the cage. They lost Christian Cuccinello, the team leader in points created from X. The talented Grant Ament is a prime target for the club.

Another priority for the club is to find a replacement for Tom Schreiber’s running mate, Ben McIntosh. Last season, Schreiber assisted McIntosh six times on 16 shots. In comparison, Tom assisted Will Manny six times on 15 shots and assisted Marcus Holman five times on 17 shots. 

It would be no surprise if both picks are offensive players since Archers LC had the best defense in the league last year. The unit only allowed 6.6 goals per game in settled situations (lowest in the PLL). They retained their core on the defensive side but Jackson Place’s status is still unknown.  Adding another pole could be an option.

Atlas LC had a forgettable 2019. They lost more games than they won and ended the season on a sour note. The offense only created 19 goals initiating from X last season (last in the PLL). They addressed that deficiency and acquired Rob Pannell in the Expansion Draft. He will be their quarterback behind the cage. They got better in the offseason and look to add more talent to their defense in this draft. 

Their transition defense was abysmal last season to say the least. They allowed 47 goals (3.9 goals per game) in fast break scenarios (worst in the PLL). One way to stop transition is to add versatile midfielders. They could look to draft a two-way midfielder who can hold his own on the defensive end.

On top of that, they allowed the most goals (3.3 goals per game) on initiations from X (worst in the PLL). Other than Tucker Durkin, nobody’s job is safe on defense. Syracuse's Nick Mellen has to be at the top of their draft board. 

Defending above the two-point arc was a different story. They allowed the least amount of goals on initiations from the top of the field last season. However, they lost SSDM Steven Denapoli; he was vital to the club's success. A short-stick D-Mid is on their wish list.

Atlas LC had the 2nd best fast break offense in PLL. The bad news is they lost LSM Noah Richard in the Expansion Draft. He contributed four goals and 26 ground balls last season and his presence in transition will be missed. They may look for a replacement with their second-round pick this week.

The new club on the block loaded up their roster in the Expansion Draft. Head Coach, Andy Copelan made it pretty clear what type of team he wants with the way he crafted his roster. He selected mostly versatile players that can play multiple positions (some attackmen/midfielders and some offensive/defensive midfielders). Virginia's Michael Kraus fits that description as Paul Carcaterra describes him as a "Chameleon". A guy that can do everything can help any roster. No spot is guaranteed yet so he could add more offensive weapons to compete at Training Camp. 

Right now, the club only has two “true” close defensemen. Adding depth to that unit is of top concern for the expansion team. Like close defense, the depth chart is light in faceoff athletes. We will see if the new head coach places a priority on the draw position. 

Chrome LC had the best six-on-six offense last season: most goals, best settled shooting percentage and highest efficiency, but something seemed to be missing. 

The team is full of dodgers. The club had the most unassisted goals in the PLL, including four players in the Top 10 of unassisted goals. (Jordan Wolf, Ned Crotty, Justin Guterding and John Ranagan). Conversely, they had the least amount of assisted goals in the PLL. They need to add an off-ball shooting specialist to complement their ball carriers. Yale’s Matt Gaudet could be the perfect fit for their offense. 

On the opposite side of the field, Chrome LC allowed 90 points in six-on-six last year. (Most points allowed per game in settled situations). They addressed that need in the offseason by adding Jesse Bernhardt (Team USA defender) in Entry Draft and recently adding two defensemen (Foster Huggins & James Barclay) in trade. New Head Coach Tim Soudan could add more competition for starting pole or select a SSDM to pair with Will Haus.

We may see a plan for the future. Chrome LC should snag a goalie if they love one. John Galloway is Soudan's guy but that doesn't mean he can't have an ace in the hole.

Chaos took a hit in the Expansion Draft and lost three of their key players. The College Draft will help them retool for the upcoming Championship Series. They should have their eye on shooters this week when they select. The offense was second to last in assisted goals last season in six-on-six. Chaos players only shot 21% (12-for-56) on Connor Fields’ passes. With this info at hand, they probably have eyes on the step-down shooter from Notre Dame, Bryan Costabile. His range is on-brand for the "Bomb Squad". 

The club was best in the league in offensive transition. They created the most points from fast break scenarios (47 points). The bad news is they lost Kyle McClancy in the expansion draft (most points among SSDMs). His contributions will be missed, but the vacancy could be filled with one of their picks.

Their defense allowed the most shots per game in settled situations, but lowest defensive assisted shooting %. Partly due to the great Brodie Merrill. Chaos LC prioritized youth in the offseason and that was made evident with their protected roster. They selected two defenders last year that coach Andy Towers believes could be starters for their club for years to come. It is still a possibility they add depth to that position.

Redwoods LC holds the title of PLL runner up. With the club scratching and clawing to run it back, they decided to shake things up in the offseason and trade one of their top-scoring midfielders for Myles Jones. The offense is now filled with star power, but the team will need to address other needs in this draft. 

It is pretty obvious what the club’s top priority is after losing The Beast, Greg Gurenlian. Marist's Peyton Smith is worth trading up for so don’t be surprised if Nat St. Laurent makes that move. 

The defense was stout in 2019. Redwoods LC gave up the least amount of shots per game (23) in settled situations. Of additional note, star defenseman Matt Landis now has potential military conflicts. The club added Finn Sullivan in the Entry Draft to fill that potential vacancy and could look to add another pole to their roster. 

The defending champs took the hardest hit in the offseason. As the only team to lose four players in the Expansion Draft, Ben Reeves, Drew Snider, Connor Kelly (#1 Pick in the Expansion Draft) and Ryan Drenner will all be playing for the Waterdogs in 2020. That’s 41 Goals, 19 Assists, 158 Shots (Over ⅓ of the team’s goals & shots) they need to replace. 

They addressed some of the departures by trading for Max Tuttle and adding Zed Williams in the Entry Draft. The club is also hopeful that Brad Smith (injured during his 2019 rookie season) returns and contributes as expected. The Lehigh lefty attackman, Andrew Pettit, could also be a great fit for the champs.

Whipsnakes put emphasis on defense when protecting rosters and retained all six starting defenders (3 close defensemen, 1 LSM, 2 SSDMs). They dealt two reserves in the offseason and will need to add depth.

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