The Fix is my latest series, jumping into the GM chair for the bottom four PLL teams, coming up with an offseason plan for how to fix the squad and get them back into contention. This includes strategy and targets in both drafts, plus some fantasy trades and other moves I think could help bring success. By popular demand, we have a bonus fifth team to delve into: Redwoods LC.
Redwoods went 2-2 in group play, defeating the Chaos and Atlas, two of the three teams that were seeded below it in the Elimination Round. As the No. 4 seed, Redwoods defeated No. 5 seed Waterdogs, 11-8, then fell to No. 1 seed Whipsnakes, 13-12.
This team may be in a better spot than others, but there is still work to be done.
What’s wrong with Redwoods?
That’s a good question. Other than some obvious issues at the faceoff X, Redwoods feels like a team that should be better than it is. The defense was the No. 2 unit in the PLL last season and caused more turnovers than anybody else. Unfortunately, despite a stacked cast of offensive weapons, the Redwoods only managed the No. 5 offense in 2020, averaging just a hair above 10 goals per game last season.
Now, there are a few factors that could be in play here. Right off the bat, before the Championship Series could even begin, star attackman Jules Heningburg was ruled out due to cardiac complications from COVID-19, leaving Redwoods without one of its most impactful scorers. The team also had to deal with Garrett Epple’s early-series suspension for his crosscheck assault of Matt Gaudet in its second game. Redwoods also had, by stats, the second-least effective faceoff unit in the PLL, a glaring hole that does feel like a factor in assessing its surprisingly inefficient offense. Fewer possessions is always harmful, though the defense helped get some of those back with its CTs.
On a positive note for the Redwoods, they led the PLL in two-point goals as they watched the midfield tandem of Sergio Perkovic and Myles Jones light it up from beyond the arc. A one-goal loss to the champion Whipsnakes in the semifinals isn’t really a bad result. Still, I think Redwoods fans were expecting a better record than 3-3 overall.
How does Redwoods’ College Draft look?
The Redwoods do not have a ton of draft capital. That’s true for both drafts. To be fair, those draft picks went into trading for Jules Heningburg and Rob Pannell, so I don’t think fans of the ‘Woods will be super upset by that news. For the College Draft, Redwoods owns the No. 4 and No. 29 picks. With only two selections in the College Draft, Redwoods doesn’t have a lot of ammo to try and plug its existing holes, but that No. 4 pick might do the trick by itself.
Round 1, Pick 4: TD Ierlan, FOS, Yale (Denver?)
So, you only have one pick in the first three rounds, and you need to put your team over the top? Well, then I have extremely good news for you: the biggest hole in the lineup happens to also have one of the best to ever do it available. Yes, the Redwoods get to fix its faceoff woes in a single pen stroke by signing the draft card to secure Ierlan, then watch as college lacrosse’s faceoff GOAT arrives to save the day. Ierlan should instantly be, at worst, a top-five FOS in the PLL.
Round 4, Pick 5: Austin Popovich, Midfield, Robert “Bobby Mo” Morris
With one of the final picks in the College Draft, I’m not sure what Redwoods can really do to truly improve its team. But, the team can take a flier on a young midfielder to hopefully develop before guys like Kyle Harrison and Joe Walters age out. Popovich, who led Bobby Mo in goals and finished second in assists for 2020, could fit the bill as a good outside shooter who’s 6-foot-3. That feels like a Tree to me.
What about its Entry Draft?
Well, Redwoods traded its first-rounder for Rob Pannell. Can’t exactly complain about that, though it’s debatable whether attack was really the thing this team needed. I think you can also debate whether Pannell, at this point in his career, is better than anyone Redwoods could’ve selected out of the MLL pool with the No. 3 overall pick. Still, Pannell is a great player and should help Redwoods offensively.
That leaves the Trees with picks No. 11 and No. 19 in the Entry Draft. Not a high enough pick to get a true superstar like a Lyle Thompson or a Randy Staats but certainly enough ammo to help out their depth.
Round 2, Pick 3: Bryan Cole, Midfield
In the last full season of MLL play, Cole put up 53 points, which is the type of production that Redwoods would really love to see from another one of its midfielders. The former Terp is also 6-foot-3 and around 200 pounds, creating a potentially terrifying 1-2-3 lineup with Perkovic and Jones that would be massive and athletic.
Round 3, Pick 3: Alex Woodall, FOS
On the off-hand chance that TD Ierlan is unavailable this summer (say, he chooses to play in college in 2022 if he misses this season), securing another option at the faceoff stripe is paramount for success for the Redwoods. Woodall, the 2019 MLL Rookie of the Year, has all the potential in the world but has yet to fully capitalize on that potential. Maybe being the league’s No. 2 (arguably) is a role he’s better suited to for now.
What trades could Redwoods make?
Redwoods LC trades attackman Matt Kavanagh to Waterdogs LC in exchange for midfielder Connor Kelly
Trading Kavanagh seems, on paper, to be crazy, but maybe it’s not. Redwoods just traded a top-five pick for Rob Pannell. Assuming he plays his natural X spot, I see Heningburg and Garnsey as better fits on the wings than Kavanagh. Waterdogs could really use that top-tier X attackman, so in this hypothetical, it would choose to flip breakout star Connor Kelly, securing its offensive QB in exchange for a hit to the midfield.
Redwoods LC trades SSDM Pat Harbeson and its third-round Entry Draft pick to Whipsnakes LC in exchange for the No. 7 overall pick in the Entry Draft
Like I said, Redwoods has traded away a ton of draft capital. Maybe it can recoup some of that. Harbeson is a hell of a SSDM, having finished third in caused turnovers for any player last summer, but he’s become slightly more expendable with the breakout of Jack Near. Whipsnakes just lost Ty Warner to med school. Here, Whipsnakes gets to plug that hole, and Redwoods gets back into the first round of the Entry Draft.
Redwoods LC trades the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 College Draft and No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 Entry Draft to Atlas LC in exchange for FOS Trevor Baptiste
If Atlas wants to really go deep on this rebuild, it could go crazy young by moving Baptiste to Redwoods. The Trees instantly fix their biggest hole without losing a single player. Meanwhile, Atlas finds itself with the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in the College Draft and the No. 3 and No. 6 selections in the Entry Draft to begin the rebuild. It could bring in Michael Sowers, TD Ierlan, Ben Randall, and Zach Goodrich all in the same summer. Talk about a rebuild.
Last week, I detailed my full offseason plans for four PLL teams. You can find them all here: