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nll expansion draft

Random Thoughts: NLL Expansion Draft

It’s time for my NLL Expansion Draft projection, Season 2.  For those that haven’t seen this before, there will be yet another NLL Expansion Draft coming up this July to fill the rosters for the New York Riptide and the new Rochester Knighthawks.  This projection is bound to change as players get traded post season, players improve or slide, and theixr personal situations change. But, for now, the point is to take a look at who teams might be protecting, who they might not be protecting, and do they need to work out a trade, either before the trade deadline or immediately after the season is over, to avoid losing too much value.

Some people did question putting out a projection this far ahead, but what the first projection last year showed was that players such as Kiel Matisz, Adrian Sorichetti and Frankie Scigliano were going to be exposed and likely drafted.  As much as teams have lost some players, there are once again some gems out there for the new teams.

Once again, to clarify for some fans who are confused over the Rochester/Halifax situation, the Halifax Thunderbirds are not an expansion team.  The current Rochester Knighthawk roster and franchise rights are moving to Halifax after this year. There will be a new Rochester Knighthawks next season, keeping the old name, but with an expansion roster and new ownership, the Pegulas who also own the Buffalo Bandits.

NLL Week 10 Winners and Losers nll expansion draft

This will also bring up an interesting point, and test for the league.  When you look at the players that will likely be exposed at this stage, Buffalo have some of the most intriguing players out there.  While Buffalo and Rochester are to have independent management, this NLL Expansion Draft will be the first test of this as to see that Rochester, who will clearly be interested in picking up players that live so close to them, as to whether the best available Buffalo players are indeed selected and that the management is indeed separate.

Also, so that I don’t try to confuse you more on the Rochester/Halifax situation, the team I refer to as Halifax in this article is the team that is moving to Halifax this offseason, and the references to Rochester are for the new expansion team.

The Basics

Here’s the simple parts as to how the NLL Expansion Draft will work:

  1. A coin flip will happen sometime later this season between Rochester and New York.  The winner has the choice between No. 1 pick in the expansion draft or No. 1 pick in the entry draft.  San Diego won this toss last year and chose the No. 1 pick in the entry draft and I would expect the winning team to do the same.  Whatever the winner of the coin flip doesn’t choose, the loser of the coin flip receives. For example, if Rochester wins the toss and takes the first pick in the entry draft, New York receives the first pick in the expansion draft.
  2. Each existing team loses two players.  They might lose those two players to the same team or lose one to each.  This does mean that the expansion team is only filling 11 of its 25 roster spots through the NLL Expansion Draft.
  3. Each team is allowed to protect 11 players.  They cannot protect more than five forwards and one goaltender.  The number of defenders they choose to protect is unlimited.  If there is a question as to whether or not a player is a forward, the Commissioner has the final say.
  4. The teams will release their protected lists two weeks prior to the NLL Expansion Draft.  During the timeframe between the protection list deadline and the expansion draft, there is a trade freeze, except with the expansion teams themselves.

Other Considerations

You might look at my list of projected picks and protected lists and think I’m crazy because some great players were not protected or picked.  There are a few things to keep in mind.

nll power rankings week 9 nll expansion draft
Photo: Candice Ward / NLL.com

The first thing to keep in mind is the unrestricted free agent conundrum. Free agents are normally players that are at least 30 years old and whose contracts have expired.  This isn’t always the case. Practice roster players can also be free agents as can restricted free agents (under 30 years old) that don’t receive a qualifying offer.  But we will keep things simple for now. Let’s look at the 30+ year olds.

If a player is a UFA (unrestricted free agent), the odds of them being protected just decreased considerably.  The reason for this is that if the expansion team drafts a UFA, they are about to become a free agent two weeks later, and lost to the expansion team for no more than a compensatory draft pick a year later.

But….

Each expansion team could draft one UFA in their entire draft, and then slap the franchise tag on that player.  The franchise tag gives the player a salary of 25% more than league maximum and immediately takes them out of free agency.  Each team is only entitled to one franchise player however, so they can only do this once. It would have to be a fairly high level UFA to make it worthwhile.

But…

If a player is 34 years of age or older, they can reject the franchise tag altogether and so protecting any UFA that is 34 or older is completely unnecessary.

East Coast vs. West Coast

Here is something completely new to consider this year.  Last year the expansion teams each had a location: one in the east and one in the west. Where a player lived was completely irrelevant because there was at least one expansion team within reach of where they lived.  This year its different. Both expansion teams are out East. How willing are teams out East to select players living in British Columbia?  The answer is the same one I commonly give when people are asking for tax advice, “It depends.” It depends on the player’s personal situation.  Do they have a job or a family that they cannot relocate? Can the expansion team give them a job out East that allows them to relocate? How good is the player?  Can you select and then trade the player to another team out west?

While the answer I am going to give you isn’t simple, you will see a few instances where I see a team passing on a player that is from BC for one that is based in Ontario that is only marginally lesser of a player.

Trades & Handshake Deals

We saw a number of trades and handshake deals occur last year that will throw everyone’s projections out the window, and one in particular that the league needs to take steps to avoid happening again, as it ruined the drama and strategy behind the expansion draft for most fans.

winners and losers nll expansion draft
Photo: Ryan McCullough/NLL

The handshake deal I’m referring to was a pre-arranged agreement between Philly and San Diego in which they agreed that San Diego would only draft from the four teams out west, Philly would only draft from four of the five teams out east, and they split the two players from Toronto. Rather than having an expansion draft where one team would pick, the other team would take a minute or two to analyze what they should do next, instead we received an expansion draft where all 18 players selected were known in advance and the GM’s read them off no more than 10 to 15 seconds apart.  I really hope we don’t see a repeat performance of that as the fans that had invested time into the NLL Expansion Draft felt cheated.

This was far from the only handshake deal that happened, and this can throw everything off.  One simple example was Calgary and San Diego coming to a handshake deal where Calgary agreed not to trade Frank Scigliano and leave him unprotected, in exchange for Calgary dictating who the second player they would lose would be.

There were also deals that were on the up and up and very open.  Buffalo worked out an official trade where they agreed to send an additional player to Philly in exchange for Philly not selecting Chase Fraser.  San Diego worked out a pre-arranged trade with Buffalo that if San Diego selected Bryce Sweeting from Colorado that it automatically triggered a trade to send Sweeting to Buffalo.

Looking at the NHL for a second, the Las Vegas Golden Knights were the kings of the pre-expansion draft trades, working out deals with 10 teams.  It was a little easier for the Golden Knights as they were the only expansion team and the existing teams only had to deal with them.

So with all of that said, let’s get started, out west.

Team-by-Team Analysis

Saskatchewan Rush NLL 2018 NLL Championship NLL Cup nll expansion draft
Photo: NLL

Saskatchewan Rush

Protected List

Forwards (5)

  • Mark Matthews
  • Ryan Keenan
  • Robert Church
  • Ben McIntosh
  • Connor Robinson

Defense (5)

  • Kyle Rubisch*
  • Chris Corbeil*
  • Ryan Dilks
  • Mike Messenger
  • Matt Hossack

Goaltender (1)

  • Evan Kirk*

Unprotected List

  • Curtis Knight
  • Matthew Dinsdale
  • Jeff Shattler
  • Brett Mydske
  • Jeff Cornwall
  • Jordi Jones-Smith
  • Travis Cornwall
  • Scott Campbell
  • Nick Finlay
  • Jeremy Thompson
  • Nic Bilic
  • Adam Shute
  • Peter Dubenski
  • Zack Gould
  • Ryan MacLean
  • Mason Pynn
  • Tyler Gaulton

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Brett Mydske
  • Kyle Rubisch
  • Chris Corbeil
  • Evan Kirk
  • Jeremy Thompson

Non-Franchiseable

  • Jeff Shattler
  • Scott Campbell

Projected Picks

  • Curtis Knight
  • Jeff Cornwall

Analysis

If there’s a team that I’m a little more confident as to what will happen, it’s the Rush, and perhaps because I see more of them than any other team.  A lot of people might be surprised with the final forward that I have on the protected list, but here’s the key.  If Robinson is left unprotected, he will be selected in the NLL Expansion Draft, and the Rush think the world of him.  Also, Robinson won’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2026, whereas Knight is four years older.  There’s an outside shot that Knight gets protected and Robinson selected, due to the close relationship between Derek Keenan and Knight.

As for the second selection, it’s a bit of a crap shoot.  Does Brett Mydske get selected again in the expansion draft?  Its entirely possible.  The reason I believe you go after Cornwall prior to Mydske is that Cornwall is younger, he doesn’t have to be franchised to be held onto, and Mydske is a new father, which will make travelling out east every week exceedingly difficult.  Also a possibility for an expansion team is Marty Dinsdale, but in any case, you’re probably looking towards a west coast player, or taking lesser talent but an Ontario option.

It is also a possibility that a trade could be worked out to hold onto additional players.  The Rush have three first-round picks, and I anticipate that they will receive at least a compensatory second-round pick, possibly a fourth first-rounder, as compensation for the loss of Dan Dawson.

nll power rankings nll expansion draft
Vancouver Warriors at San Diego Seals 03.02.19 Mike McGinnis 03/02/2019 National Lacrosse League

San Diego Seals

Protected List

Forwards (5)

  • Austin Staats
  • Turner Evans
  • Casey Jackson
  • Kyle Buchanan*
  • Connor Kearnan

Defense (5)

  • Brodie Merrill
  • Adrian Sorichetti
  • Tor Reinholdt
  • Cam Holding*
  • Drew Belgrave

Goaltender (1)

  • Frank Scigliano

Unprotected List

  • Connor Kelly
  • Dan Dawson
  • Garrett Billings
  • Connor Fields
  • Paul Dawson
  • Garret McIntosh
  • Ethan Schott
  • Kyle Hartzell
  • Johnny Pearson
  • Nick Ossello
  • Zach Miller
  • Garrett Epple
  • Brandon Clelland
  • Tyler Carlson
  • Ryan Hartley
  • Graydon Bradley
  • Mike Schlosser
  • Jules Heningburg

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Garett McIntosh
  • Garett Billings
  • Cam Holding
  • Tyler Carlson
  • Kyle Buchanan

Non-Franchiseable

  • Paul Dawson
  • Dan Dawson
  • Kyle Hartzell

Projected Picks

  • Johnny Pearson
  • Connor Kelly

Analysis

This is one of those situations where I wish the league data would be better.  Cam Holding might, or might not be a UFA, the information isn’t clear.  But in any event, I think he’s protected as he’s too good of a UFA that can be franchised to head out east.  I have very little faith in my projected picks here.  I think its going to come down to a case of geography on some of these players and simply which of the multitude of young talent that a particular expansion GM might know the history better on as to whom is taken.  The player I struggled with the most as to what San Diego will do with is Garrett Billings. He is a UFA this offseason. I doubt he has much interest in playing out east. But would an expansion team draft him and franchise him? Its possible, but I’m going to put him in a similar situation to what Jeff Shattler was in last year, a guy that is 1 year away from not being franchiseable anymore and teams looked to someone younger.

nll week 4 winners and losers nll expansion draft
Calgary Roughnecks at Colorado Mammoth 01.06.19 Jack Dempsey 01/06/2019 National Lacrosse League

Calgary Roughnecks

Protected Players

Forwards (5)

  • Curtis Dickson
  • Dane Dobbie*
  • Jesse King
  • Dan Taylor
  • Wes Berg

Defense (5)

  • Zach Currier
  • Tyler Burton
  • Mitch Wilde
  • Tyson Bell
  • Eli Salama

Goaltender (1)

  • Christian Del Bianco

Unprotected List

  • Rhys Duch
  • Riley Loewen
  • Tyler Pace
  • Reece Callies
  • Dan Macrae
  • Curtis Manning
  • Greg Harnett
  • Mike Carnegie
  • Shane Simpson
  • Chad Cummings
  • Anthony Kalinich
  • Tyler Pace
  • Cole Pickup
  • Carter Dickson
  • Tyler Richards
  • Sean Tyrell
  • Bob Snider
  • dRyan Martell

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Tyler Richards
  • Dan MacRae
  • Curtis Manning
  • Rhys Duch
  • Dane Dobbie
  • Riley Loewen

Non-Franchiseable

  • Mike Carnegie
  • Bob Snider

Projected Picks

  • Chad Cummings
  • Greg Harnett

Analysis

Every team has its challenges and Calgary is no exception.  One interesting players here is Tyler Pace, who is having US immigration problems.  This leads to an interesting scenario in my mind.  Calgary has no need to protect him, as two US based expansion teams wouldn’t draft him if the problems were to persist.  Another is Wes Berg.  You could easily see a post season trade occur to get Berg onto another lineup which changes things, but if he hasn’t been traded, Calgary has to protect him or lose his rights in the NLL Expansion Draft altogether.

Also up front, both Dobbie and Duch are UFA’s.  Calgary protected Dobbie last time and I’m certain they will again.  As for Duch, the difficulty for an expansion team in taking him is that you have to draft him, burn your franchise tag, and then find a dance partner out west to trade him to.  That’s a little too much work in my opinion to go through to make it happen. 

nll power rankings
Georgia Swarm at Colorado Mammoth 02.16.19 Jack Dempsey 02/16/2019 National Lacrosse League

Colorado Mammoth

Protected List

Forwards (5)

  • Kyle Killen
  • Ryan Lee
  • Eli McLaughlin
  • Chris Wardle
  • Jeff Wittig

Defense (5)

  • Tim Edwards
  • Robert Hope
  • Jordan Gilles
  • Dan Coates
  • Joey Cupido

Goaltender (1)

  • Dillon Ward

Unprotected List

  • Jeremy Noble
  • Jacob Ruest
  • Cory Vitarelli
  • Josh Sullivan
  • Brent Adams
  • Taylor Stuart
  • Brad Self
  • Scott Carnegie
  • Ian Llord
  • John Lintz
  • Julian Garritano
  • Steve Fryer
  • Matt MacGrotty
  • Steven Lee

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • John Lintz

Non-Franchiseable

  • Brad Self
  • Cory Vitarelli
  • Scott Carnegie
  • Ian Llord

PROJECTED PICKS

  • Jeremy Noble
  • Jacob Ruest

Analysis

Colorado has made it clear in the last several games to me anyways that they are preparing to move on from Jeremy Noble, having healthy scratched him.  But as much as Noble struggled this season, if I’m an expansion GM and he’s available, I would take a chance on him that he can find his form from the past once again.  As for whom else would be taken, I have heard Steve Fryer being suggested and that has a point to it, in that there are only so many options in goal.  For now, the guy I would be looking at is Ruest, but that could change before the end of the season.

nll national lacrosse league vancouver warriors winners and losers
Colorado Mammoth at Vancouver Warriors 01.26.19 Bob Frid January 26, 2019 National Lacrosse League

Vancouver Warriors

Protected List

Forwards (4)

  • Mitch Jones
  • Logan Schuss
  • Keegan Bal
  • Tony Malcolm

Defense (6)

  • Matt Beers*
  • Justin Salt
  • Colton Porter
  • Zack Porter
  • Owen Barker
  • Brandon Goodwin

Goaltender (1)

  • Eric Penney

Unprotected List

  • Joel McCready
  • Jordan McBride
  • Brody Eastwood
  • Jean-Luc Chetner
  • James Rahe
  • Jarret Toll
  • Tyler Codron
  • Dallas Wade
  • Reid Mydske
  • Travis Burton
  • Ian Hawksbee
  • Aaron Bold
  • Nate Wade
  • Andrew Gallant

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Matt Beers
  • Jarrett Toll
  • Tyler Codron
  • Joel McCready
  • Jordan McBride

Non-Franchiseable

  • Aaron Bold
  • Ian Hawksbee

Projected Picks

  • Jean-Luc Chetner
  • Dallas Wade

Analysis

The amount of confidence I have in the two players that will be selected from the Warriors, zero.  A number of the protected players are obvious and you clearly don’t leave Beers unprotected as he would be selected and franchised.  The issue is the quality of players that exist beyond that protected list, that aren’t UFA’s, is minimal.  One thought was to find Ontario based players and take your chances.  The only two players on the roster originally from Ontario, Hawksbee who there is no point in selecting, and Dan Lomas.  Your best bet this year when selecting from the Warriors, find some young talent you want to take a shot on that hasn’t been proven just yet.

nll power rankings buffalo bandits georgia swarm
Buffalo Bandits vs. Georgia Swarm KeyBank Center, Buffalo, NY March 9, 2019. Photo by Sara Schmidle

Buffalo Bandits

Protected List

Forwards (5)

  • Shawn Evans
  • Dhane Smith
  • Josh Byrne
  • Chris Cloutier
  • Thomas Hoggarth

Defense (5)

  • Steve Priolo*
  • Ian MacKay
  • Matt Gilray
  • Nick Weiss
  • Bryce Sweeting

Goaltender (1)

  • Matt Vinc 

Unprotected List

  • Corey Small
  • Chase Fraser
  • Jordan Durston
  • Kevin Brownell
  • Mitch De Snoo
  • Matthew Bennett
  • Justin Martin
  • Matt Spanger
  • Ethan O’Connor
  • Jon Harnett
  • Reid Action
  • Mark Steenhuis
  • Craig England
  • Zach Higgins
  • Dallas Bridle
  • Zach Herrewyres

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Kevin Brownell
  • Steve Priolo
  • Jon Harnett
  • Corey Small

Non-Franchiseable

  • Mark Steenhuis

Projected Picks

  • Corey Small*
  • Chase Fraser

Analysis

Not only have I debated the situation at forward for Buffalo, so have several others as to who should be protected.  I firmly believe that if you don’t protect Corey Small, an expansion team selects and franchises Small.  But do you protect Small and allow Hoggarth to go?  There doesn’t seem to be an easy answer, other than I’m certain that Steve Dietrich doesn’t trade what he did to obtain Chris Cloutier, only to let him go in the NLL Expansion Draft.  Its also possible that a deal is worked out by the Bandits to protect more than 5 forwards.

If you’re looking at a deal to protect additional players, or perhaps a dark horse in who to take in the draft, look at Zach Higgins.  I had him projected to go in the NLL Expansion Draft last season.  He hasn’t had much of a chance to play this season, but would be a good choice for a #1 goaltender in my opinion.

nll power rankings bandits swarm

Georgia Swarm

Protected List

Forwards (5)

  • Lyle Thompson
  • Miles Thompson
  • Randy Staats
  • Shayne Jackson
  • Holden Cattoni

Defense (5)

  • Jason Noble
  • Jordan MacIntosh
  • Connor Sellars
  • Bryan Cole
  • Adam Wiedemann

Goaltender (1)

  • Kevin Orleman

Unprotected List

  • Joel Tinney
  • Jerome Thompson
  • Zed Williams
  • Alex Crepinsek
  • Brendan Bomberry
  • Leo Stouros
  • John Ranagan
  • Matt Dunn
  • Chad Tutton
  • Mike Poulin
  • Craig Wende
  • Tyler Ferreira
  • Leroy Halftown
  • Steven Orleman

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Jerome Thompson

Non-Franchiseable

  • Mike Poulin

Projected Picks

  • Zed Williams^
  • Brendan Bomberry

Analysis

Let’s start with this.  Zed Williams is listed as a transition player for the Swarm.  I am assuming that the Commissioner’s office will list him as a forward.  If they do, that probably exposes him to the NLL Expansion Draft.  Who the last defender will be to be protected is a bit of a crap shoot, I’ll stick with Weidemann for now.  Crepinsek is out there, so is Bomberry.  If Bomberry is available, I probably pick him up as an expansion team due to his potential upside.

toronto rock nll national lacrosse league

Toronto Rock

Protected List

Forwards (4)

  • Rob Hellyer
  • Tom Schreiber
  • Adam Jones
  • Kieran McArdle

Defense (6)

  • Challen Rogers
  • Brad Kri
  • Latrell Harris
  • Sheldon Burns
  • Billy Hostrawser
  • Brandon Slade

Goaltender (1)

  • Nick Rose*

Unprotected List

  • Johnny Powless
  • Phil Caputo
  • Dan Craig
  • Dan Lintner
  • Reid Reinholdt
  • Brock Sorenson
  • Creighton Reid
  • Alec Tulett
  • Damon Edwards
  • Adam Jay
  • Jay Thorimbert
  • Jordan Magnusson
  • AJ Kluck
  • Paul Rabil
  • Riley Hutchcraft
  • Mitchell Gustavsen
  • Scott Dominey
  • Brad Lyons

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Nick Rose
  • Jay Thorimbert
  • Brock Sorensen
  • Creighton Reid
  • Rob Hellyer (possibly)

Non-Franchiseable – None

Projected Picks

  • Dan Craig
  • Dan Lintner

Analysis

Let’s start with this, and I doubt it makes a difference in the end, but whether or not Rob Hellyer is a free agent at the end of this year is in doubt, as to whether the season he missed with his knee injury counts towards his contract or not.  Regardless, he’s on the protected list if he’s a UFA or not.

I debated hard on Toronto again.  This time was whether to protect 4 or 5 forwards.  In the end, for now anyways, Toronto has Lintner, Powless, Craig and Reinholdt as a group of forwards where they are going to lose two and keep two in the NLL Expansion Draft and I think that’s a better way to go than to expose someone like Slade by only protecting five D.  You could convince me my last two protected players and the two projected picks are wrong quite easily here.

nll power rankings week 8 new england black wolves buffalo bandits

New England Black Wolves

Protected List

Forwards (5)

  • Callum Crawford
  • Joe Resetarits*
  • Tyler Digby
  • Stephan LeBlanc
  • Reilly O’Connor

Defense (5)

  • Andrew Suitor
  • Adam Bomberry
  • Ryan Fournier
  • Joel Coyle
  • Colton Watkinson

Goaltender (1)

  • Doug Jamieson

Unprotected List

  • Kevin Buchanan
  • Dave Emala
  • Dereck Downs
  • David Brock
  • Greg Downing
  • Brett Manney
  • Nick Chaykowsky
  • Jackson Nishimura
  • John Lafontaine
  • Mackenzie Mitchell
  • Alex Buque
  • Nick Mariano

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • David Brock
  • Joe Resetarits
  • Kevin Buchanan

Non-Franchiseable

  • Greg Downing
  • Brett Manney

Projected Picks

  • Alex Buque
  • Jackson Nishimura

Analysis

A year ago for the Black Wolves, it was a case of who would they even protect.  They had so many UFA’s that it left a lot of players off the board.  This go around, the trade at the start of the year to acquire Alex Buque is likely going to cost the Black Wolves Buque himself.  Doug Jamieson is the clear #1 goaltender now.  It might be a bigger question to see if the Black Wolves trade Buque to avoid losing him for nothing.

Jackson Nishimura has a lot of future potential, which is why I put him on the short list to get selected.  Also include Dereck Downs, John Lafontaine and Nick Chaykowski for potential selection.

colorado mammoth philadelphia wings

Philadelphia Wings

Protected List

Forwards (5)

  • Kevin Crowley
  • Josh Currier
  • Kiel Matisz
  • Brett Hickey
  • Matt Rambo

Defense (5)

  • Trevor Baptiste
  • Steph Charbonneau
  • Anthony Joaquim
  • Liam Patten
  • Frank Brown

Goaltender (1)

  • Doug Buchan

Unprotected List

  • Blaze Riorden
  • Justin Guterding
  • Jordan Hall
  • Vaughn Harris
  • Eric Shewell
  • Dylan Evans
  • Chet Koneczny
  • Zac Reid
  • Liam Byrnes
  • Ryan Wagner
  • David Diruscio
  • Hunyahdengowah Abrams
  • Isaiah Davis-Allen
  • Adam Osika,

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Dylan Evans
  • Zac Reid

Non-Franchiseable

Chet Koneczny, Jordan Hall

Projected Picks

  • Blaze Riorden
  • Vaughn Harris

Who would have thought that Philly might have an expansion draft issue, and its too much decent offense.  I don’t see how the top 5 aren’t protected, and that’s going to expose Riorden and Harris.  Could Davide DiRuscio be selected as a goaltending option?  Its entirely possible.

halifax thunderbirds

Halifax Thunderbirds

Protected List

Forwards (5)

  • Chris Boushy
  • Kyle Jackson
  • Cody Jamieson
  • Austin Shanks
  • Mike Burke

Defense (5)

  • Graeme Hossack
  • Luc Magnan
  • Jake Withers
  • Brad Gilles
  • Daryl Robertson

Goaltender (1)

  • Warren Hill

Unprotected List

  • Ryan Benesch
  • Eric Fannell
  • Pat Saunders
  • Steven Keogh
  • Dawson Theede
  • Brandon Robinson
  • Mike Manley
  • Mike Triolo
  • Luke Van Schepen
  • James Barclay
  • Rowan Kelly
  • Oran Horn
  • Angus Goodleaf
  • Sid Smith
  • Nick Damude

Unrestricted Free Agents

Franchiseable

  • Mike Manley
  • Pat Saunders
  • Angus Goodleaf
  • Stephen Keogh

Non-Franchiseable

  • Ryan Benesch

Projected Picks

  • Eric Fannell
  • James Barclay

We go from a difficult list to pick from with Toronto to an impossible list to pick from in Halifax.  With the fire sale that happened at the trade deadline, the list of whom to even protect with the last few spots is difficult, and the projected picks is a complete guess.  Fannell’s situation is dependent upon his health.

What you could see though is the Thunderbirds possibly taking advantage of situations where other teams are looking to move players post season rather than losing them for nothing, and the Thunderbirds get discounts on various players where they have the potential to open up spots.

Wrapping Up

So that’s it.  I’m certain not everyone will agree and would love to hear your take on this in the comments below.  There is still a portion of the season to go, so there is still plenty of time for this to all change.  One thing is certain though, projecting who will be taken this year was a lot harder than it was a year ago.  The main reason in my mind for this is that with two new teams this season, there were a lot more new players around the league and we simply haven’t had the time, unlike last year, to see them all develop over several years, and where the GM’s of New York and Rochester might be looking at specifically amongst that crop of new players.

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