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.
Mock Cannons LC Expansion Draft Setup
Yesterday, we determined who’s available from the current seven PLL squads for Cannons LC to select to build the league’s eighth roster. Now, it’s time for Cannons to pick its players from the field.
I’m going to assume here that the team will settle its initial roster from the PLL guys, and then all eight teams will be allowed to draft from the ex-MLL players at the same time to avoid giving Cannons a huge advantage. That means we will first draft out Cannons LC from current PLL athletes, then get out friends from MLL involved.
A reminder on rules: Cannons LC will be choosing 18 players. No more than four players can be taken from any given team. Active military members and rookie holdouts (i.e. guys like Matt Landis and Pat Spencer) do not have to be protected. For the sake of the exercise, we’ll make three picks at a time, take some time to explain them, and then continue onward until we hit 18 players.
As determined yesterday, here is the pool is players we are assuming to be available to Cannons LC in its expansion draft:
Archers: Curtis Corley, Jack Rapine, Brendan Fowler, Stephen Kelly, Drew Adams, Mike Simon, Joey Sankey, Tyler Pfister, Josh Currier, Mark McNeill, Ian MacKay.
Atlas: Chris Cloutier, Callum Robinson, Austin Pifani, Scott Rodgers, Craig Chick, Kyle Hartzell, Kevin Unterstein, John Crawley, Joel Tinney, Jeremy Thompson, Jake Richard.
Chaos: Miles Thompson, Connor Fields, Dan Coates, Jason Noble, Thomas Kelly, Dillon Ward, Matt Rees, Troy Reh, Eric Scott, Patrick Resch, Mark Glinci.
Chrome: Brendan Kavanagh, Donny Moss, James Barclay, Jake Pulver, Michael Manley, Hunter Forbes, Brett Queener, Eli Salama, Justin Turri, Sam Duggan.
Redwoods: Clarke Patterson, Brendan Gleason, Finn Sullivan, Greg Puskuldjian, Peyton Smith, Gunnar Waldt, John Sexton, Hugh Crance, Tyler Dunn, Kyle Harrison, Joe Walters, Nick Ossello.
Waterdogs: Wes Berg, Ben Reeves, Noah Richard, Chris Sabia, Matt DeLuca, Patrick Foley, Drew Simoneau, Charlie Cipriano, Dan Eipp, Steven DeNapoli, Kyle McClancey.
Whipsnakes: Brad Smith, Jay Carlson, Brett Schmidt, Tim Muller, Jacob Stover, Isaac Paparo, Max Tuttle, Jeremy Sieverts, TJ Comizio, Joseph McCallion.
Rounds 1-3: Cannons LC select Dillon Ward (G, Chaos) Finn Sullivan (D, Redwoods) and Connor Fields (A, Chaos)
To lead off their expansion draft, Cannons secure one of the (in my opinion) three best goalies in the world, benefitting from Chaos leaving Dillon Ward unprotected. Pairing him with Finn Sullivan, a great team defender left open by Redwoods, gives the Cannons a solid base on defense. On the offensive side of the ball, the team takes a chance on Connor Fields, who was a top five player in the league in 2019 before being benched at the end of group play in 2020. Fields, should he bounce back, becomes the face of the franchise.
Rounds 4-6: Cannons LC select Chris Cloutier (A/M, Atlas) John Sexton (LSM, Redwoods) and Brad Smith (A/M, Whipsnakes)
We’re putting an emphasis on positionless, malleable offensive players for Cannons, allowing the team to rotate guys through multiple positions and add a little box flair, sort of like Chaos did in its playoff run. Chris Cloutier and Brad Smith were both underappreciated members of their teams last year, and both can take runs at attack or middie. To continue building up the defense, Cannons once again robs Redwoods and selects Sexton to be its primary LSM.
Rounds 7-9: Cannons LC select Josh Currier (M, Archers), Drew Simoneau (FOS, Waterdogs) and Jay Carlson (A, Whipsnakes)
Currier should fit in perfectly with the offense we’re building for Cannons, and he’s a great do-it-all player to have around. After finishing fourth in the PLL in faceoff percentage in 2020, Drew Simoneau gets a chance to be a top option as he’s taken to lead the faceoff unit for Cannons. Finally, the expansion team will raid the remainder of the Whipsnakes’ unprotected attackmen to select Jay Carlson, who is a ground ball vacuum and great finisher.
Rounds 10-12: Cannons LC select Jesse King (M, Chrome), Tim Muller (D, Whipsnakes) and Joe Walters (M, Redwoods)
Cannons continues to build out a strong midfield unit with the addition of Walters and King, both of whom can also offer some minutes at attack in a pinch. Walters is both a great shooter and great passer, and King provides a good outside shooter with a stronger dodger. Meanwhile, Muller becomes another part of a surprisingly strong defensive unit, moving over from Whipsnakes to help protect Ward.
Rounds 13-15: Cannons LC select Chris Sabia (D, Waterdogs), Kyle Harrison (M, Redwoods) and Curtis Corley (D, Archers)
Sabia was an extremely underrated defenseman in 2020, and combining him with Sullivan and Muller means the Cannons instantly have a top-four defense in the PLL, which will be big for the new kids on the block. Adding Kyle Harrison is just a fun move that gives this team another social media star, a great leader for some of the younger guys, and brings Harrison back to a once-MLL franchise, which is fun considering his history there. Finally, Curtis Corley adds defensive depth and can compete for a starting D spot.
Rounds 16-18: Cannons LC select Miles Thompson (A, Chaos), Mark McNeill (M, Archers) and Mark Glinci (M, Chaos).
To finish off its expansion draft, Cannons take Miles Thompson to round out its offense and claim two high-quality SSDMs to help out that defense in McNeill and Glinci. Glinci is also a fantastic teammate and should instantly be a leader on this team.
Initial Cannons LC Roster
Attack: Jay Carlson, Chris Cloutier, Connor Fields, Miles Thompson
Defense: Curtis Corley, Tim Muller, Chris Sabia, Finn Sullivan
Face-off: Drew Simoneau
Goalie: Dillon Ward
Long Stick Midfield: John Sexton
Midfield: Josh Currier, Mark Glinci, Kyle Harrison, Jesse King, Mark McNeill, Brad Smith, Joe Walters
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