The Buffalo Bandits high-scoring offense just got even deadlier. The Bandits have acquired lefty forward Chris Cloutier in a trade with the Philadelphia Wings for defenseman Ryan Wagner and the Bandits 2019 first round draft pick.
Cloutier was the second-overall pick in the 2018 NLL Draft. He is a Kitchener, Ontario native that was a standout player at the University of North Carolina where he scored 149 points, including the game winning goal in overtime to win the 2016 National Championship. In seven games with Philly he scored seven goals and had 17 assists.
READ MORE: See more of our ‘Breaking Down’ series as Ryan Conwell walks us through the New England Black Wolves roster moves here. Ira Huff analyzes the Stephen Keogh trade in addition to Colorado’s power play unit here.
Many people are probably scratching their head at this trade, but I think it makes sense for both teams and for Cloutier personally. Cloutier was doing a lot of the ball carrying and playmaking for the Wings before Kevin Crowley’s arrival, but has since been in a four-game scoring slump and was used as more of a transfer guy moving the ball on offense and setting picks. Head Coach Paul Day may not have as much need for Cloutier now that Crowley, Jordan Hall, Matt Rambo, and Blaze Riordan have been playing so well.
Day might also be looking towards the team’s future with this trade as they now will have another first round pick in the 2021 draft and pick up a young but experienced defenseman in Ryan Wagner to help build their defense upon.
Buffalo also may have really pushed this trade because of the their temporary loss of Josh Bryne to injury and flip flopping of players in and out of the lineup on the left side so far this season. Adding Cloutier to the lineup with Corey Small, Jordan Durston, and potentially Josh Bryne when he returns will be a serious problem for opposing defenses.
Cloutier is a hard-dodging forward who loves getting to the middle of the floor to unleash his cannon of a shot. He has also shown early in his NLL career to be a great distributor of the ball once he draws attention from defenders. Cloutier allows offensive coordinator John Tavares to really mix up what the Bandits are throwing at defenses and can now go heavy right or left throughout the game.
Cloutier has shown that he can score against the best including Bandits goalie Matt Vinc.
It seems like Cloutier was not working out in Philly, but Buffalo will be glad to have him. He could thrive the rest of the season if he can get used to their system and style of play. The Bandits are currently at 6-2 and by adding Cloutier they are making a statement that they are ready to make a run at a championship.
This is the second major trade in the past few days with Stephen Keogh recently being traded from the Colorado Mammoth to the Rochester Knighthawks. I think there will continue to be movement around the league as teams make adjustments to their lineups to have the best chance of getting into a playoff spot.