Paul Rabil has been traded from the Boston Cannons to the New York Lizards, and while Major League Lacrosse was totally quiet on the situation for the longest time, you knew something big was in the works when they scheduled a conference call for a random Tuesday in January. Clearly, the lacrosse media and general public would have questions to ask!
We have been working on independently verifying this trade info, and it was all legit. In fact, we’re even hearing that this trade has been in the works for weeks, if not longer. To confirm officially, the Lizards just (5:05pm Monday) sent out this email:
GARDEN CITY, NY – The New York Lizards of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) have executed a trade with the Boston Cannons that will bring Paul Rabil, widely-regarded as the best player in lacrosse, to the Lizards along with All-Star midfielder Mike Stone.
In exchange for Rabil and Stone the Cannons will receive midfielder Max Seibald, defenseman Brian Karalunas, the Lizards’ 2016 first and second round MLL Collegiate Draft picks, and their 2017 first round MLL Collegiate Draft Pick.
Before we get to the league provided answers, press release statements, and all the rest of the media manipulating machinery let’s take a real look at this trade and see if it makes any sense on its face. Is this a good deal for both teams? Or is something else going on here? What will the fallout be from this trade? Will either team see a big boost?
Paul Rabil Trade – Smart Move?
Let’s look at this trade with an on-field perspective first. The Cannons are undergoing big changes. Boyle and Berger retired, they acquired Ryan Young, and they have a solid stock of younger talent. Perhaps they just thought it was time for a change… and if that is the case, then will they get a big change with Seibald instead of Rabil? Honestly, I don’t think it’s a big drop or rise for Boston, or even much of a change at all. Both are middies who love to dodge, and have shoot first mentalities. Rabil is bigger, Seibald is faster. Both can dominate, but both can also struggle when they get locked down by a great pole. That’s just midfield life in the MLL.
So the Rabil for Seibald trade by itself would be a total head scratcher. When you look at the other guys involved in the trade it actually makes a little more sense though. Mike Stone plays off Rabil well and NY was smart to get them together. Brian Karalunas heading to Boston also makes sense as he is a truly versatile #1 defender. Of course it now seems like Karalunas will get shipped out to Ohio… and Boston got Chad Wiedmaier in return, along with more draft picks!
Boston also gets three collegiate draft picks in the deal (two early ones in 2016 and a first rounder in 2017) but to me, if this deal was purely done for on-field reasons, the Cannons got the short end of the stick.
New York did well to get two great midfielders, but the real winner here could be Ohio. They needed a guy like Karalunas. BK is a huge pick up.
Ok, now let’s look at this trade in an off-field context. WHY would this ever happen?
Rabil lives in Baltimore, and we hear he wanted to get traded there to play in front of his hometown fans. But the teams and league didn’t trade him just to move him 3 hours closer to Maryland. That would be silly. They moved Max Seibald out of New York (where he lives), will move Karalunas to Ohio (another guy from the Northeast), and moved Mike Stone from Boston (he grew up there) to NY. They also removed Paul Rabil from the city where the league office is located, which means less face time with their biggest star.
So if this trade doesn’t make sense on the field (it doesn’t really) and it doesn’t make any sense for the players involved (most are now playing further from home) why in the world did this trade go down?
There are rumors swirling about this topic, and while I won’t get into the details (because they are just rumors), I can tell you that certain people were just not getting along like they needed to for the good of the franchise. Basically, the trade will be dressed up as being about change and rebirth or branding, but really it’s about egos and an inability to find a way to win. Neither side or anyone involved has taken credit for pushing for this trade, but it’s happening, and it doesn’t make a ton of sense… where there is smoke, there is often fire. And this fire seems to be the argumentative kind.
One thing that sticks out is that Boston and New York traded CAPTAINS. That’s crazy. I can see Seibald working well with Belisle should he get the nod to wear the C in Beantown, but how will Rabil gel with the NY leadership and Joe Spallina? Greg Gurenlian is a welcoming force, but I’m beyond curious to see how that all pans out.
Potential Trade Fallout
It is conceivable that this three-way trade is only the beginning, and that Paul Rabil will be traded again before the season starts. I could see Chesapeake making a play for him and I know he’d love to be back in Maryland. But more likely, Rabil will play for the Lizards this season… and that could be truly interesting!
Can Paul Rabil, Rob Pannell, Ned Crotty, Cody Jamieson, and Jojo Marasco all share the ball enough to make it work? Jammer is more of an off ball guy in field, so maybe… but that is a LOT of ball handlers! If Pannell and Rabil can work out a way to play together, the Lizards will be golden, but if either feels marginalized it could be struggle city, and lead to predictable lacrosse.
Boston now has Seibald and Ryan Young to bolster Will Manny, who is still breaking ankles with the best of them. Kevin Buchanan will need to play a larger role and a guy like Tim White could start to see time, but beyond that Boston lacks offensive depth in a serious way. Brent Adams is great for tranny goals and has speed to burn. Perhaps they can work him into the offense more… they may need to. Or they need to draft offensive guys like crazy.
Ohio really comes out of this situation looking golden. Yes, they will give up a draft pick, but by all counts, other than Lyle Thompson, no D1 player really stands out as a guarantee, so getting proven players instead of draft picks is a smart move for this franchise. Ohio is better but still thin and lacking depth. Another good defender goes a long way towards that goal. Now, can they find a dominating FoGo and another pole? Big questions.
At the end of the day, both Boston and New York still have dominant dodging midfielders, and that was the crux of this trade… moving players. It doesn’t make a lot of sense from a player standpoint, so something else had to be going on here. Or the Cannons thought they were getting a great deal, and they weren’t. I tend to doubt the latter!
Paul Rabil moving to the New York Lizards is big news, and it’s official now. How it all plays out remains to be the seen. But that’s the fun part!