Welcome to the Lax All Stars 2021 PLL Rookie Spotlights series!
The PLL College Draft was held April 26, introducing 32 players into the PLL fold. The league’s training camp is set for May 28 through June 3 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, to determine the final rosters of the eight teams for the 2021 campaign.
Not all 32 of these players will make a team, but right now, the dream is alive for them all. We’re counting down the days until the PLL opens up its training camp by delving deep into every player selected in the 2021 PLL College Draft, with two players included in each post, with help from Ryder Cochrane, Ryan Conwell, Nick Zoroya, and Nick Pietras.
Next up: Jeff Trainor and Conor Gaffney.
2021 PLL Rookie Spotlights: Jeff Trainor & Conor Gaffney
Who drafted him & when: Jeff Trainor was selected No. 18 overall (Round 3, Pick 2) by Archers LC.
Is this about where he was expected to go: Given the other midfielders in this draft class, I think that Jeff Trainor was the best available middie when his name was called. He could have easily been drafted a few picks earlier or later based on specific team needs, but Coach Bates used the pick he received in the Eli Gobrecht trade to make sure he had plenty of midfield depth.
What are the main skills he brings to the team: Coach Bates, like all coaches, prefers to make his job as easy as possible. One sure fire way to do that is to have players who are versatile and fill many roles. Jeff Trainor is that type of player. He reminds me of Zach Currier in his ability to play at both ends of the field, create on offense, score in transition, and mix it up on GBs. After drafting Tre Leclaire earlier, Trainor gives the Archers a midfielder who won’t have to sub immediately in transition.
How’s the fit: The Archers midfield unit has one of the best players in the world in Tom Schreiber but overall lacks offensive production. Other than Schreiber, it really only has three O-mids, and even though the consensus is that one or even two attackmen will run out of the box, Archers need midfielders who can score. As I previously mentioned, Jeff Trainor gives this team a scoring midfielder who can get stuck in transition without being a liability.
Who’s the competition & what are the odds he makes the team: Given his unique skills set and the way the Archers roster is constructed, I believe Jeff Trainor’s chances of making the team are extremely high. As for who his competition is, that’s a tough question. The Archers have six attackmen on the roster, and some of them will likely play a midfield role, so Trainor could conceivably be competing with seven players for a roster spot.
Who drafted him & when: Conor Gaffney was selected No. 21 overall (Round 3, Pick 5) by Archers LC.
Is this about where he was expected to go: More or less. Conor Gaffney was, without a doubt, a top-five FOS specialist in this draft class, and depending on if you preferred him or Gerard Arceri, he could’ve slipped into the fourth. What I’m saying is, he was projected to be drafted anywhere in the third or fourth round, depending on how much interest FOS drew in the draft.
What are the main skills he brings to the team: Conor Gaffney was part of a two-headed monster with Mike Sisselberger that helped him improve throughout 2021. He took some time to adjust to the new rules, but he was incredible in previous seasons with the knee down. He possesses a lot of tools that will make him a threat at the pro level: quickness, strength, technique.
How’s the fit: He’s a guy who clearly wants what’s best for the team; he showed that at Lehigh, embracing the meteoric rise of teammate Sisselberger while steadily improving and remaining someone the team could call on when needed. The Archers are full of young talent, and with Conor Gaffney they get another hungry player who could help them get to championship weekend.
Who’s the competition & what are the odds he makes the team: With only Noah Rak (freshly signed after the entry draft) and Stephen Kelly on the roster, I think Coach Bates took Conor Gaffney because he fully intends on keeping him and giving him a shot to become “the guy” for the Archers. Highly certain he makes this year’s team.
More PLL Rookie Spotlights
There will be plenty of PLL Rookie Spotlights to check out between now and the start of training camp. You can find information about the incoming rookie class here.