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.
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PLL & MLL Mock Merger Draft
We’ve gone through the best available MLL players by position, so now it’s time for the eighth PLL squads to peruse their options and claim the rights of the league’s new entrants. There has not yet been an announcement that this is how it’s going to work, but for the sake of argument, we’re assuming this will be the process, or at least something similar.
For draft order, we’re going with the same rules as the Entry Draft in 2020. That means order will be based on regular-season standings, with the expansion Cannons LC drafting above all existing PLL teams. So, the draft order in our PLL mock merger draft will go: 1. Cannons, 2. Chaos, 3. Atlas, 4. Waterdogs, 5. Redwoods, 6. Archers, 7. Chrome, 8. Whipsnakes. Like the Entry Draft, we’ll go two rounds here, although I assume that plenty of other MLL players will get a shot during training camp to make the final roster and/or practice squads.
Alright, that’s it. The Cannons are now on the clock in our PLL mock merger draft.
Pick 1: Cannons LC selects Lyle Thompon, Attack
All those social media mentions trying to get Lyle to join the PLL, and when the leagues finally merge, the man still stays with the MLL. That’s hilarious. Lyle Thompson is one of the five best players in the world right now on damn near everybody’s list, and he’ll instantly be one of the league’s brightest stars. Given how our mock expansion draft went, he’s also reunited with his brother, Miles, and former Albany teammate Connor Fields. Imagine a starting attack lineup of Lyle-Miles-Fields. It might not be the best in the league, but it’s arguably the most fun.
Pick 2: Chaos LC selects Randy Staats, Attack
Having lost two attackmen to expansion, Chaos makes the ideal move for its offense and gets yet another box guy into the offense. There’s so much to love about this pick: Chaos adding another non-American, Randy being reunited with younger brother Austin, a potential jumbo middie line of Randy and Austin Staats with Dhane Smith. If anybody is going to find a way to get the best out of Randy Staats, it’s Chaos.
Pick 3: Atlas LC selects Daniel Bucaro, Midfield
I’ll lead this off by saying that Atlas should 100% select a defenseman to try and help fix its league-worst defense. I just don’t believe they’re going to. Atlas wants star power and goal scorers, and Bucaro is both. He’s a young star with immense potential to develop into a superstar, and pairing him up with Bryan Costabile gives Atlas an epic 1-2 punch from the midfield for years to come.
Pick 4: Waterdogs LC selects Bryce Wasserman, Attack
One of the things Ryan Boyle was harping on during the 2020 Championship Series was the Waterdogs’ need to find “the guy” on the offense. The team has a lot of talent, but it needs someone to step up and be the leader on this unit and really quarterback things. Wasserman, who just played that exact role for the Boston Cannons during their 2020 title run, could be that guy. He’s arguably not the best player on the board, but he’s probably the best gamble for the Waterdogs to find its true superstar at attack.
Pick 5: Redwoods LC selects Mikie Schlosser, Midfield
Redwoods lost multiple offensive middies in our mock expansion draft, so it goes ahead and replaces them with Schlosser, who should help fill the void left in the dodging midfield. With Jules Heningburg returning in 2021, Redwoods has no need for additional attackmen, but the team could absolutely use more initiators outside of the attack, and Mikie can do it. Also, he feels like a great culture fit for this team.
Pick 6: Archers LC selects Max Adler, FOS
Stephen Kelly is a solid faceoff guy, but Archers could still stand to improve its FO unit. Enter Adler, who is one of the top guys at the stripe in the world right now. Archers don’t have a glaring hole anywhere else, and increasing the number of possessions that its offense gets seems like a big enough win to justify picking Adler here. Any opportunity to get Tom Schreiber the ball more is an opportunity worth taking.
Pick 7: Chrome LC selects Zach Goodrich, SSDM
Chrome goes with the best-player-available approach here and selects Goodrich, the 2020 MLL Defensive Player of the Year and a guy with a legit claim to being the best short-stick defender in the world right now. This team is already pretty balanced, but giving it a starting defensive midfield of Reece Eddy, Will Haus, and Zach Goodrich makes Chrome the hardest team for midfielders to face full stop.
Pick 8: Whipsnakes LC selects Colin Heacock, Attack/Midfield
After losing Brad Smith and Jay Carlson in our mock expansion draft, the Whipsnakes could use help at attack. There might be better long-term options, but this is a heat check pick for the Whipsnakes, who are fresh off of two straight titles. It brings Heacock into the fold, adding to the team’s Maryland alumni squad while also pairing Matt Rambo up with his go-to partner from college. This helps on the field, he’s practically a guaranteed chemistry fit, and the dude can score plenty.
Pick 1: Cannons LC selects Andrew Kew, Midfield/Attack
We built our mock Cannons expansion roster based on positional versatility, and Kew fits in perfectly there. He’s capable of playing attack or midfield and fits the box-oriented vibe we’ve cultivated so far. He’d be a great off-ball cutter while teams are distracted by the likes of Lyle and Fields.
Pick 2: Chaos LC selects Alex Woodall, FOS
Chaos did terribly at the faceoff stripe in 2020, and it could use help here. It might’ve missed out on Adler here, but the team gets a former No. 1 pick in Woodall, who has the physical traits to turn himself into a dominant FOS if he remains focused.
Pick 3: Atlas LC selects Michael Rexrode, Defense
Atlas needs defensive help, and so it steps up here in round two and takes my top-rated defenseman out of MLL. Rexrode is a beast and should instantly step in and provide a spark on this listless defense.
Pick 4: Waterdogs LC selects Sean Sconone, Goalie
Matt DeLuca looked pretty solid in his limited time this summer, but Waterdogs could still use an upgrade in the cage, and Sconone is too good to pass up on here. His playstyle reminds me a lot of Blaze Riorden, and we’ve all seen what Blaze has done in the PLL.
Pick 5: Redwoods LC selects Nick Mellen, Defense
Having lost Finn Sullivan to expansion here, Redwoods replaces him with a young, budding star in Mellen. Redwoods seems to make defense the priority, so I figure that it’ll want to make sure that third spot is locked in, and Mellen could develop into far better than a third pole.
Pick 6: Archers LC selects Isaiah Davis-Allen, Midfield
Having lost Josh Currier and Mark McNeill to mock expansion, Archers take a shot at replacing production on both sides of the ball and select IDA. He’s a proven SSDM, which replaces the hole left by McNeill, and he’s also capable of working on offense. He’ll be a fun transition weapon alongside Scott Ratliff.
Pick 7: Chrome LC selects Colin Burke, Midfield
With no glaring needs left on the board besides midfielder, Chrome is free to take more of a flier pick on a middie, and I have the team taking Colin Burke. Chrome have a lot of talented midfielders, which complicates his fit slightly, but a few of those guys are starting to reach the end of their prime years. Burke could act as a spark plug for a season or two, developing his skills further before becoming the guy in two or three years. That’s all assuming he doesn’t make a leap and become the guy sooner.
Pick 8: Whipsnakes LC selects Liam Byrnes, Defense
Well, this is just OP. Whipsnakes finally receive the slightest inkling of weakness on its defensive front after losing Tim Muller to expansion, and it goes out and replaces him with the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. This is the sort of thing I’m not sure fans have fully comprehended yet. The number of elite guys from the MLL still available is crazy. Every single team is going to get significantly better. 2021 is gonna be a blast.
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