Kevin Crowley Black Wolves vs Rochester Knighthawks NLL Photo Credit: Khoi Ton/Black Wolves Photographer
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Kevin Crowley Trade: A Deeper Dive Into the Deal

Over the weekend, the first major trade of the season was announced as the Black Wolves have sent Kevin Crowley down to the Philadelphia Wings for a pair of first round draft picks. New England will receive a pick in 2019 and another in 2022.  This was not only the first in-season trade of the year, it’s also a huge one that has the potential to really change up how the East shakes out this year.

One of the things I love about this trade is that it not only worked out for both teams, but how it worked well, at least in my opinion. It was absolutely no surprise that Kevin Crowley wanted to play in Philly. I can’t even call it the worst kept secret, because it barely qualifies as a secret. He was with the Wings when they were in Philly and still lives there. It’s an incredibly natural fit. But for all of the off-floor reasons this trade makes sense, the reasons that really matter are for reasons on the floor.

First, let’s take a look at where he’s leaving: New England. Even before Kevin Crowley did not report to camp and went into holdout mode, there is no shock that New England was willing to trade him. Why? Because they already had done it. Albeit brief, he had been sent up to Toronto in return for Garrett Billings a few seasons ago. New England general manager Rich Lisk has said in the past when trading big players that you need to trade talent for talent. This also brings to mind moves like Joel White for Andrew Suitor or Shawn Evans for Callum Crawford.

In this case, the timing of the trade also comes into play. Kevin Crowley was holding out, so the Black Wolves were forced to see how newly acquired Tyler Digby worked with last year’s acquisition Crawford, and Seth Oakes. So far, it’s working out pretty well. Could they use Crowley? Probably. But they are learning how to play well without him, which is the best case scenario. Crawford is running the show and they are getting plenty of touches around the offense. Crowley is a player who works best with the ball. Not having him has given everyone else a chance at a different role. So far, the beneficiary has been Reilly O’Connor, whose point production has jumped significantly.

In terms of trading talent for talent, the Wings don’t have anyone that fills a specific need for the Black Wolves right now. Their goalie situation is good, their offense is balanced, and their defense has a good mix of veterans and youth. Where they could have benefited from Philly would have been Trevor Baptiste for faceoffs, but that’s not a need which fits the scale of this trade right now. By trading for picks, the Black Wolves pick up much needed first rounders, which they have sent to other teams in other trades to acquire the veterans they do have. With an older roster, this is immensely important.

For Philly, the big change from the preseason to now has been their performance on the floor. They did not look good against Rochester at all, but they were very competitive with both Buffalo and Toronto. That means adding a player like Kevin Crowley, who was an MVP finalist last year, can be the missing link that pushes them into the territory where they can start winning games. With Rochester and likely Georgia too many steps ahead right now, adding Crowley brings them within reach and could have them in the playoff conversation. Teams like Buffalo are looking significantly improved. New England and Georgia will both be big challenges, too. If they don’t actually improve faster than the rest of the division, their postseason chances are not good.

On the floor, Philly’s forwards have been scoring 13 goals from their lefties and 13 goals from their righties. With this team, I don’t really consider that a good thing. Kevin Crowley is going to score plenty of goals, and he’ll demand more attention be paid to the righties. What that should do is clear up some off ball looks for the lefties. I think a player like Blaze Riorden or Matt Rambo down low could be major beneficiaries of this. It will also likely take some more pressure off of rookie and team leading goal scorer Chris Cloutier, who will definitely receive more than a few passes over to that lefty shooter spot, opening up a great east-west look. Added to that is the fact Crowley is a Philly guy and they actually practice locally. Not only will he help them improve on game day, but he’ll be able to bring the younger players up to speed quicker via practice. Unless of course he pulls an Allen Iverson. But, let’s not go there.

So, the end result of this trade is the Black Wolves get two high draft picks to build for the future and are not really affected in the team they have right now. For the Wings, they get a player who is committed to their community and may be able to take their team to the next level and fight for a playoff spot in the east. But first things first, they need to get that initial win.