Last week, Premier League Lacrosse and Major League Lacrosse merged, turning the Boston Cannons into Cannons Lacrosse Club as the eighth PLL outfit and casting tons of questions around the professional field lacrosse world.
There is plenty of dust to settle before the PLL can start its first season as the sole face of pro field lacrosse. An expansion draft has already been declared for 2021, and a plan is coming for how now-former MLL players can enter the PLL. How the PLL looked in 2020 is very different from how it will look in 2021 and beyond.
All this week, we will release our five-part series predicting how it will all shake out, from expansion protections to a mock merger draft and more. It’s every lacrosse’s nerd big opportunity – let’s play GM.
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Best MLL Players Available – Face-off, Poles & Goalies
One has to assume that there will be a number of now ex-MLL guys who make the leap over to the PLL. But how will that talent be distributed?
We’re assuming it’s done with a draft that comes after Cannons LC makes its expansion selections. We’ll be sharing our mock of that draft later in the week, but first, let’s look at some of the best players presumably available, breaking it down by the top guys at each position.
The honest truth is some PLL players will lose their jobs to MLL guys. Not everybody will stay in the league. It’s going to come down to what positions teams feel they need to upgrade, so we’ll lay out the options at each here, and then discuss how they might settle onto PLL rosters. Yesterday, we covered attack and midfield. Today, we’re going over face-off, poles and goalies.
Max Adler is one of the best FOGOs in the world right now, having dominated MLL en route to being its best face-off man and a 2020 All-MLL player. Teams like Redwoods and Chaos, who struggled at the X in 2020, will likely look to scoop him ASAP.
A former No. 1 pick, Alex Woodall has been a bit inconsistent, but he’s still a former All-Star and a tough draw (pun intended) at the stripe.
Fresh off a 2020 season that saw him win 63% of his draws, Kevin Reisman was a consistent performer in MLL at the stripe and will probably get a look for the PLL, at least as a second option.
Michael Rexrode led the Outlaws in caused turnovers two years running and developed into one of the top covermen in MLL during that time. The top-five poles on this list are all pretty interchangeable as the No. 1 guy, but I love Rexrode.
MLL’s 2019 DPOY, Liam Byrnes was an all-star in both 2018 and 2019. He’s an extremely competent defender who led MLL in caused turnovers in 2019 and led defensemen in ground balls. He’s an instant-impact player and extremely reliable.
An All-American at OSU before going pro, Ben Randall is a big (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) pole who can bang with the bruisers but is quick enough on his feet to hang with faster dodgers, too. He’s been one of MLL’s best poles since entering the league.
Tom Rigney is another rookie that could be in for a long and illustrious career. Rigney was an All-American at Army before getting drafted top-five in both the PLL and MLL. He’s massive, muscly, and a smart team defender. He’ll be starting for someone next season.
Consistently one of the best LSMs since his days at Duke, CJ Costabile can do it all. He’s a good defender, a ground ball machine, great in transition, and capable of holding his own at the face-off stripe when called upon.
Another guy who originally spurned the PLL for MLL, Nick Mellen is young and hasn’t had much of a chance to prove himself in the pros, but there’s a reason he was a top-five pick in both drafts. The former Syracuse leader is a great defender and a great defensive leader.
The third defenseman on our All-MLL team for 2020, Justin Pugal was an all-star in 2019 for the Cannons in his rookie season. He followed up with a great week in Annapolis in 2020 and could prove to be the best of this group, given his current trajectory.
Andrew “Two-Bold” Newbold is a good defender, but his top skill remains his transition game, where he was one of the best two-point bombers in MLL. In 2019, he led the league in twos while finishing with five two-point goals, 16 points, 41 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers. That’s a lot of ability to pass on.
Jack Carrigan is just an all-around competent guy. The former Greyhound is not as flashy as some of the other poles on this list, but he’s a good team defender and does everything you ask of him.
Tyson Bomberry hasn’t played as much as some of these other guys in MLL, but he’s proven in both the NLL and in Worlds play that he’s still got everything that made him a star at Syracuse.
Sean Sconone carried the Hammerheads to relevance in 2020, leading the league in saves per game and in save percentage. He’s a thicc king and could make a similar impact for a team in need of a goalie as Blaze Riorden did in the PLL. He’s really good.
Nick Marraco has posted a 50% save rate or higher every season in the pros and could push for playing time early depending on his situation.
At 33, Brian Phipps is getting a little up there, but he’s been a good pro. He might end up relegated to a backup role in the PLL, but he’s got a chance.
PLL-MLL Merger Series
Monday – Protected Players
Tuesday – Cannons LC Expansion Draft
Wednesday – Top Ex-MLL Players Available, Part 1
Thursday – Top Ex-MLL Players Available, Part 2
Friday – PLL Mock Merger Draft