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Filling out the roster: Bandits to stock up through draft tonight

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

There’s no hiding that the Buffalo Bandits field an aging roster, as the team’s most notable players—John Tavares (44 years old), Mark Steenhuis (31), Anthony Cosmo (35), Billy Dee Smith (30) and Shawn Williams (38)—are all on the wrong side of 30, and recent attempts to keep young talent around haven’t worked out.

At 7 p.m. Monday at the Westin Harbour Club in Toronto, the 2012 NLL Draft will determine the future destinations for some of lacrosse’s best young stars. For instance, the Edmonton Rush, who acquired what wound up to be the first overall pick from the Washington Stealth, have already decided on superstar Mark Matthews, a “can’t miss” prospect widely coveted across the NLL. The festivities will be streamed live on NLL.com, and current Canisius College men’s lacrosse head coach Randy Mearns will offer analysis throughout.

In his first draft as Buffalo Bandits general manager, Steve Dietrich—who will also be inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame tonight by long-time friend and teammate Troy Cordingley—has picks Nos. 5, 13, 16 and 18 in the first two rounds at his disposal.

Here are a few good resources for draft night:

IL Indoor’s full mock draft
In Lax We Trust’s full mock draft
IL Indoor’s Top 50 prospects (good chart to identify value as teams will inevitable pick from need at times)

Browsing through several mock drafts, it looks like the Bandits will choose the best player available, as there are enough roster holes to back that strategy. Dhane Smith, a relatively raw transition player with drool-inducing physical skills, is a good possibility to find himself in orange-and-black, as he’s also the cousin of hulking Buffalo defender Billy Dee Smith. Given the importance of a strong transition unit—necessitated by the rule changes installed last year and verified by Minnesota’s collection—don’t be surprised if the Bandits use their top pick on a two-way player for the second straight season.

Hamburg native Joe Resetarits—younger brother of former Bandit Frank Resetarits—was long considered a probable choice because of his WNY roots and connection to the team. When his older brother was released by Darris Kilgour last year, however, those projections started to sputter—and he’s no longer a sure-thing pick for Buffalo in the above mock drafts.

Although I think Brock Sorensen, a 6’6, 200 pound defender recovering from knee surgery, would be the Bandits’ dream pick if he was to fall to No. 5, it’s very unlikely. Because Buffalo has failed to hold onto Chris Corbeil, Jeff Cornwall and Chris White over the past two years, drafting a sturdy young defenseman should be a priority—even if it’s Hayden Smith, a not-so-sexy pick (and that’s because of his conservative play, not because he has red hair).

Here’s a list of the last five No. 5 picks in the NLL Draft so you can gauge the caliber of talent available at that slot:

2011—Johnny Powless, Rochester
2010—Jarrett Davis, Rochester
2009—Alex Gajic, Colorado
2008—Kevin Huntley, San Jose
2007—Frank Resetarits, San Jose

Tune in tonight to see who will infuse energy and excitement into the Bandits’ aging corps.

(Header photo courtesy of NLL.com).

TAGGED: buffalo bandits, hayden smith, lacrosse, mark matthews, nll, nll draft, steve dietrich

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