A seventh lacrosse club will add much-needed roster spots. Plenty of players will benefit, from guys who were healthy scratches to others who might need a change of scenery. Coaches named a ton of guys who they’d like to see get more playing time: Kevin Rice, James Pannell, Justin Turri, Jeremy Thompson, Dan Coates, Larken Kemp. Here are the five names that have popped up most often in my conversations since the expansion announcement.
BJ Grill, D, Chrome LC
BJ Grill dressed twice in 2019. The team with the league’s worst defense (13.7 scores against per game) decided that Grill – who has been the top cover defender on a championship team as a pro – couldn’t help them. That’s nonsense.
One coach told me: “If we were playing the Redwoods tomorrow, I would pick [Grill] up and match him up against Ryder Garnsey.” His disciplined footwork and stickwork makes him a nightmare matchup on an island for Garnsey or Connor Fields. Forget concerns about his size. Grill gives up a whopping five pounds to Fields. Defensemen with 50+ pounds on Fields were made famous this summer trying to change directions with him at X.
Ryan Conrad, M, Atlas LC and Tyler Dunn, M, Redwoods LC
The second and eighth overall picks, respectively, in the 2019 draft projected to be “two-way” midfielders at the next level. Both had rocky starts as rookies on the defensive end.
Swiss Army knife players at the college level sometimes turn into jacks of all trades, masters of none at the pros. As the original six’s rosters are depleted, those players will only become more valuable. They might not be true two-way guys like Jake Bernhardt or Brent Adams. That’s okay. Conrad can play on faceoff wings; Dunn can take faceoffs himself. Conrad can turn into a solid offensive midfielder who helps eliminate opposing transition; Dunn could do the same or develop into a defensive midfielder who sparks transition. Their roles are to be determined, but it’s clear that they belong in pro lacrosse.
Joe LoCascio, M, Whipsnakes LC
LoCascio is a throwback, alley-dodging midfielder. He can get his hands free at will (partly because he takes low-risk, low-reward shots that defenses are willing to give up). Early in his career, he showed the ability to hit 16-yard shots on the run. If he can take a few more sweeping 2-point attempts per game – and cut out some of the low angle shots inside the arc – then he can boast a high effective shooting percentage, like Mike Chanenchuk. King Channy scored 19 times on 77 shots last summer (24.7%) – but 10 of those scores were 2-pointers. His effective shooting percentage (37.7%) was seventh-best in PLL, comparable to catch-and-shoot snipers like Miles Thompson and Wes Berg.
He dressed almost every week in 2019, but he was buried on the depth chart behind Chanenchuk, Drew Snider, and John Haus. The Whipsnakes moved Connor Kelly to attack at midseason to free up some space in the midfield. There’s a chance that the expansion draft moves him up the Whipsnakes’ depth chart.
Mike Bocklet, A, Chaos LC
With loaded rosters, teams were tempted to dress three ball-dominant attackmen. Finishers like Berg and Jay Carlson proved their value for playoff teams. Fortunately for Mike Bocklet, he was on a team that dressed an off-ball attackman regularly; unfortunately for him, that off-ball attackman was usually Miles Thompson.
Bocklet dressed a couple times when Thompson was injured. He – and fifth overall pick Clarke Petterson (Redwoods LC) – could thrive if expansion grants him a change of scenery and more playing time.