Editor’s Note: This article was previously published on January 11, 2020 at 5:19 p.m. ET. It has been republished to help provide perspective for readers with today’s upcoming 2020 PLL Expansion Draft. As a note, we removed Greg Gurenlian from a projected PLL roster from this original article as he announced his retirement a few weeks ago, and have kept the original text that discusses the circumstances surrounding Gurenlian’s impact on the draft with an added note updating readers with relevant information.
With the announcement of the seventh PLL team this month, and the 2020 PLL expansion draft soon to come, it’s a perfect time to discuss how this draft will affect the league. A full list of the expansion draft rules can be found here. I’ve included the most important details below:
“On January 13th, 2020, the original six lacrosse clubs will be required to submit a roster of 11 protected players to the PLL League Office (one goalie and 10 positional players).”
“The seventh Lacrosse Club will draft a total of 18 players in the Expansion Draft.”
“No more than four players can be selected from a single existing lacrosse club in the Expansion Draft.”
Given these rules, Jack Smith and I went over each roster and picked 10 field players and one goalie to protect. We then identified 18 players we think would fit well together for the expansion team. Players in bold were voted as a top-50 player by the PLL players.
2020 PLL Expansion Draft Projections
Our Mock Draft
Archers LC finished 5-5 in the regular season showcasing an exciting style of offense that took advantage of the transition game. Manny and Holman stay onboard to hold down an attack unit that may welcome Pat Spencer — assuming his basketball career ends at graduation and chooses the PLL over the MLL. McIntosh and Schreiber will continue to shine on the offensive end, while Eipp, McNeill, Alexander and Ratliff dominate on defense and in transition. McMahon and Place remain down low to protect Ghitelman, who edges Adams. Archers goaltenders — Ghitelman and Adams — came in third in the league in terms of goals prevented in our PLL By The Numbers series. Given that Ghitelman played approximately 68% of the time, it’s not an unreasonable assumption that Ghitelman played a large role in that.
D-Cade Van Raaphorst
It will be interesting to see how a new coach addresses the roster without much lead time but we believe that the three strong attackmen and four midfielders on the protected list lead a solid group of scorers to build on. The defense will have three returning poles to protect Concannon. Baptiste is a must protect at the faceoff-X, as he clearly made the largest impact in the league from a faceoff perspective, and arguably of any player based on our PLL By The Numbers series produced by NBA sports analytics guru Wayne Winston and his son Greg. In an expansion draft, you’re going to lose someone talented and it seems like this time it’s likely to be Joel Tinney or John Crawley.
Chaos LC brings back their fun and dynamic style of play that helped them to a 7-3 record. Offensively, Chaos has to keep Fields and Byrne at attack and Jones, Class and Froccaro at midfield. We are hoping that Miles Thompson can stay healthy next year. Defensively, they return the defensive captain in Merrill with the underrated Rowlette and rising star Jarrod Neumann, who took the league by storm last year. They’ll cross their fingers that their defensive midfielders survive the expansion draft. Blaze Riorden is a must-protect, considering that he averaged the most goals prevented per game by almost double than the next goalkeeping squad according to our PLL By The Numbers end of season statistics (technically, the goals prevented stat measured a goalkeeping unit, but since we estimate that Riorden played 98% of the time it’s realistic to assume that it was largely him that generated that number).
John Galloway returns in net to lead a defense that had the worst goal differential in the league. Guterding, Wolf and Danowski — aka the Duke attack line — stay intact and looks to build on last year’s performances. The midfield will be led by Crotty and MacIntosh, while rising star Connor Farrell hopes to continue 2019 success and what may have been the most impressive rookie campaign in the league.
Update: With Gurenlian retiring, that places a much higher importance on securing a solid faceoff midfielder. If Redwoods LC can make a move to draft TD Ierlan, it could potentially have a longterm solution to the dilemma with one of the best collegiate FOGOs since Trevor Baptiste.
Original Text (see Editor’s Note at the top of the page): Two teams had the ability to keep 11 top 50 players, but we are deciding to make things interesting. Although Gurenlian is still a faceoff icon, the thought is that he may retire in the next few years. If the Redwoods don’t protect Gurenlian and are able to trade for a draft pick that would let them take Ierlan, the chance to potentially have another faceoff legend on the team — one that would be more likely to have more years ahead of him in his career — might be too good to pass up. It’s unlikely that if Gurenlian is not protected that he wouldn’t be drafted by the Waterdogs as he is a great piece to have. The best-case scenario for Redwoods is for Gurenlian to go undrafted in the expansion draft and then have a chance to stay and continue playing in addition to mentoring Ierlan until he retires (the chances that Ierlan is going to the PLL over the MLL seems likely simply based on the fact that a Twitter account that appears to be his has a picture of him taking in the sights at a PLL game last summer). However, provided that the Redwoods are able to ensure that they get Ierlan, in my mind, it would be worth the risk to make that move happen. It’s tough to say if Redwoods can guarantee a good enough draft pick by the time the 2020 PLL Expansion Draft happens, but it would be great for them if they could. The protected players allow the team to keep their identity without losing a long term talent. The toughest decision was to protect Glazener or Sexton, with Glazener narrowly winning out.
The reigning PLL champions had the 12 top 50 players (not a surprise) but they’re only able to keep 11 of them. For us, it came down to Drew Snider or Ryan Drenner and we believed keeping the Rambo-Drenner connection was imperative. With Nardella proving himself not only as a premier face-off athlete but also as a threat in transition, he’s a must protect. Bernlohr returns behind Young, Dunn, and Ehrhardt with Warner helping at both ends and in transition. The ridiculous offense lead by all-everything Rambo and Mr. Clutch (Ryan Drenner), will be supported by Kelly, Bernhardt and the human two-bomb Mike Chanenchuk.
Note: When picking this team there were too many options to consider so we decided to give you an idea of what kind of talent would be available and how it could be used. It is completely hypothetical and just goes to show the kind of talent that exists in the league. Enjoy!
A-Christian Cuccinello (Archers)
A-Chris Cloutier (Atlas)
A-Ben Reeves (Whipsnakes)
M-Joe Walters (Redwoods)
M-Drew Snider (Whipsnakes)
M-Ian MacKay (Archers)
M-John Crawley (Atlas)
M-Dhane Smith (Chaos)
M-Romar Dennis (Chrome)
DM-Mark Glicini (Chaos)
D-Larken Kemp (Redwoods)
D-BJ Grill (Chrome)
D-Austin Pifani (Atlas)
D-Matt Rees (Chaos)
D-John Sexton (Redwoods)
D-Michael Manley (Chrome)
G-Drew Adams (Archers)
Summary: Cuccinello, Cloutier and Reeves give you a little bit of everything. A healthy Gurenlian immediately gives you a boost at the faceoff X and his leadership and experience will go a long way. This assumes that Gurenlian gets picked up by the Waterdogs due to the scenario we mentioned above in the Redwoods LC section. The midfield is full of guys who displayed clear ability but were stuck behind ridiculous talent on their old club. The defense is a perfect mixture of youth, experience and ability to move the ball in transition. There’s no shortage of talent but plenty of guys hungry to prove they can be “the guy”.
Who would you take for the Waterdogs in the 2020 PLL expansion draft?
Authors: Nick Zoroya @nicholaszoroya, Jack Smith @jack_smiff1