Utah Archers defenseman Graeme Hossack

What Graeme Hossack’s return means for Archers

By Zach Carey | Jun 20, 2024

Graeme Hossack’s return from the holdout list and onto the 25-man roster is a major development for the Utah Archers. The All-World defender is one of the best cover guys in the league and will immediately bolster the Archers defense when he presumably takes the field with the club in Minneapolis on June 28. 

Hossack filling back in at close defense and as the team’s No. 1 cover defender will relieve the defense of its two most pressing needs: an elite on-ball defender and another stable presence at long-stick midfielder.

In Utah’s one loss thus far, not having a Hossack-like presence was arguably the deciding factor. Brennan O’Neill’s heroic nine-point performance won the Denver Outlaws the game. He dominated the matchup with Cam Wyers in the fourth quarter, and there was nothing the Archers could do about it. 

Hossack wouldn’t have completely blanketed the No. 1 overall pick. But maybe instead of nine points, Hossack would’ve limited O'Neill to seven or fewer and Utah would have come out with the win. After all, opponents shot just 7.1% when he was the closest defender in 2023. 

What makes Hossack great is how versatile a defender he is. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Canadian brings an unmatched level of physicality. But he also has the lateral quickness and technique to stalk the quickest attackmen and navigate screens effectively.  

His presence in those individual matchups against No. 1 attackmen will be huge to put the clamps on threats ranging from O’Neill to Michael Sowers. It will also alleviate pressure on the defensive scheme to be as responsible for helping to those matchups. 

Against Sowers and the Philadelphia Waterdogs in Albany, the Archers managed to limit the scatback’s impact. But, by being conservative in what the scheme expected Warren Jeffrey to do on-ball against Sowers, other lanes opened up for the Dogs. 

Hossack is back in time to go toe-to-toe with the Boston Cannons’ Asher Nolting. Nolting – who sits fifth in the league in points – dominates his matchups by winning with superior size and strength. Hossack might be the only guy who can match that. Watching those two titans go head-to-head will be a treat. 

With Hossack in, Troy Hettinger is the odd man out on the Archers’ 25-man roster. The 2023 second-round draft pick was one of three defenders to rotate through Utah’s backup LSM spot on the 19-man roster in the first three weeks. Rookies Jack DiBenedetto and Colby Barsz played that role in Albany and Charlotte, respectively. Moving forward, they’ll likely be depth options. 

That begs the question of who will bump up to play LSM alongside Jon Robbins. Hossack and Jeffrey will be at close, so one of Wyers or Mason Woodward will take runs alongside Robbins up top. 

Wyers has the experience – he was the club’s second LSM in last year’s title run. At 6-foot-5, the Canadian boasts the length to guard up top and has proved that he has sufficient lateral quickness to guard midfielders dodging at him with a full head of steam. 

Woodward is the higher-ceiling candidate at LSM. He’s a playmaker in the middle of the field. The rookie is a ground ball machine, thrives on faceoff wings and is dangerous in transition. He just hasn’t had the opportunity to put those abilities on display while starting at close, where he’s best deployed as the backside help defender. 

Neither Woodward nor Wyers is a weakness at close or LSM. That’s another benefit of Hossack’s return: The club can be confident that all five of its poles are game-ready and comfortable wherever the staff plays them. 

Bottom line, Hossack fortifies the only real weakness for this Utah roster. He allows Jeffrey to move back to being a rock-solid secondary cover guy, lets the staff make a win-win decision about who moves to LSM and takes the strain off defensive coordinator Tony Resch and the defensive scheme to contain star players. 

The reigning champs are 2-1, leading the Western Conference and now have their best defensive player back. Meanwhile, 2023 George Boiardi Short-Stick Defensive Midfielder of the Year Latrell Harris could be back from injury before long. Not too shabby.