The biggest storyline of the NLL offseason, when it comes to what actually happens on the floor, just broke this afternoon in the West when Colorado and Saskatchewan announced a trade agreement that will send Zack Greer, and the 9th overall pick in the 2016 NLL Draft, to Denver. In exchange, the Rush get Adam Jones and the Mammoth’s 2nd Round pick in 2017.
All-star for all-star, pick for pick!
This seems like a solid course of action for either group as Greer just finished his 7th season with his second-consecutive NLL Championship with the Rush after putting up 42 goals and 28 assists in the regular season, just 2 points higher than Jones’ 42 goals and 26 assists, although Jones played two less games in 2016.
Both lethal lefties have shown that they can lead their teams to win games. In Colorado, Jones was sharing the light with the legendary John Grant Jr., creating an unstoppable dynamic-duo on the lefty side that was feared in the league. With Junior making what looks like his farewell tour and Jones approaching unrestricted free agency, the timing seems appropriate to start to look for a new identity and when you remember that prior to the trade, the Mammoth didn’t have a draft pick until the 4th Round of this year’s draft, the stars start to align.
Both all-stars were 3rd overall NLL Draft picks (’09 Greer, ’12 Jones), in 2016 became the only players in NLL history to score 6 goals in a quarter and two of just six players to net over 60 points for the past two seasons. There are a lot of similarities between the two when it comes to how effective they can be for an offense and there’s definitely a lot of familiarity between the guys and their new clubhouses.
This highbrow deal seems like a win-win situation for both front offices and not a bad move for either star of Team Canada. Greer gets to be closer to his home base of Los Angeles, and Jones can be that much closer to a Champion’s Cup with the way things are going in Saskatchewan. Can #FaceoffWknd come sooner, please?
Black Wolves Picking Up Picks
Draft picks were one thing that New England was left without approaching the 2017 season and, for what seems like forever, the Swarm has been piling them up. Insert massive trade to send Black Wolves’ newcomer, but 9 year veteran, Jordan Hall, and a 2019 2nd Round pick to Georgia for the 8th, 14th and 24th selections in this month’s NLL Draft, along with a Georgia 1st Round pick for 2017.
But that’s not all!
The Black Wolves also dealt off Captain and defenseman Andrew Suitor to the Knighthawks for young defensive star Derek Searle and the 29th selection in this year’s draft. The biggest winner in the situation has to be Andrew Suitor. It’s a great move to a closer barn with a team finding more success in recent years, that is if he can stave off ACL woes that have held him back in recent seasons. Rochester has a veteran-laden defense I can see the big man plug into right away. New England has a deep and athletic defense that will benefit from the longevity of Searle and the pressure on the salary cap will be lifted by parting with a big name like Suitor.
Want to see the two of them fight? Thought so… give the people what they want.
The Black Wolves also added offensive firepower through NLL veteran Chad Culp and transition/defensive help with face-off king Jay Thorimbert, both from Buffalo on free agency. Talk about making moves.
Protect the Hive
The Georgia Swarm have been playing musical chairs with their goalies this offseason and some speculate that it’s not over yet. The fight for the starting role is clearly up for grabs, but could there be another tendy thrown into the mix during the Draft? Only time can tell, but to this point we’ve seen some big moves. After failing to find consistency in his four years since being drafted by the Swarm, the group parted ways with Team Israel goaltender Zach Higgins, making some room for two new faces.
After 6 of his 10 career season in Calgary, the Roughnecks decided to give up star Mike Poulin to the Swarm on free agency to make room for the young Christian Del Bianco. Poulin gets a 3 year deal from Georgia and a legitimate crack at the starting role. In Calgary he jockeyed back in forth with Scigliano before claiming his throne and closing out 2016 with an impressive .778 save percentage.
Adam Shute is also making his way into the Swarm locker room with serious WLA experience, but nothing past NLL practice rosters. The Victoria Shamrocks’ net-minder is getting a crack at suiting up in Georgia after a strong summer season out West after filling the void between the pipes left by the departure of Aaron Bold.
Stealth Find a Gem
After an impressive 72 point run with the Victoria Shamrocks this summer, the Vancouver Stealth ink up Cory Conway for the 2017 season. In April 2015, the Rush released Conway after the NLL roster additions deadline. Conway could not resign with the Rush for the season and Conway sat vacant through 2016. After 8 seasons in the NLL, Conway found himself without a home in 2016 and really used the summer in the WLA to prove that his fight isn’t over yet. He brings a strong ability to feed the ball to a Stealth offense rich with finishers. Conway will join two of his Shamrocks teammates, Rhys Duch and Corey Small, on their local NLL squad, the only two players ahead of him in scoring this summer in the entire WLA.
The Stealth added a very similar player last season, see: Garrett Billings. With the addition of Billings to Vancouver for young star Tyler Digby resulting in nothing but mediocre performances, it seems that Conway might have his shot to run the veteran off the floor. There’s a lot of chemistry already between Conway and offensive leaders Duch and Small, this has to be a focus of the Stealth this winter.