The NLL draft was held Monday night and, as always, the question everyone was asking was who won?
The Edmonton Rush announced some time ago that they were taking highly touted Mark Matthews with the first overall pick. This can only be seen as a major win for the Rush.
During last year's off-season, the Rush picked up scoring threat Athan Iannucci only to have him refuse to report. Mid-way through the season, they were able to trade Iannucci to the Washington Stealth for all-star transition Paul Rabil, who also refused to report.
But now Edmonton can rest assured that the other part of the Rabil-Iannucci trade—Washington's first-round pick—is going to pay dividends. That pick wound up being the first pick overall and that gives the Rush Matthews.
Matthews is big, strong, skilled and a winner at every level.
While attending Denver University, the Oshawa, ON native was named an All-American twice and graduated from their program as their all-time leader in goals (155) and points (216).
Playing box lacrosse at the Canadian Junior level, Matthews has also helped win two Minto Cups—he has had success indoors as well as in the field, including spending time with Edmonton Rush Head Coach/General Manager Derek Keenan.
Matthews should fill the hole in the offense left when the Rush parted ways with Shawn Williams, who led the team in points last year.
The Rush also added Curtis Knight with the eighth pick of the draft. Knight was named tournament MVP in the 2011 Minto Cup, leading the Whitby Warriors to the championship.
But the team who has to be considered the winners on the evening is the Minnesota Swarm.
With picks two, three, four and 10, the Swarm dominated the first round and picked up a ton of talent.
As expected, Minny selected six-foot-five Brock Sorensen from Ohio State with the second pick. Sorensen can be effective in both ends of the floor, using his size and leadership abilities to great effect.
Following the Sorensen pick, the Swarm chose Kiel Matisz from Robert Morris University, followed by Shayne Jackson from Limestone College.
Matisz is another big guy, at six-foot-five, and led the Colonials in scoring with 64 points. Jackson was fourth on the Limestone Saints with 71 points and, at five-foot-nine is easily the smallest player taken in the first four picks of the draft.
But Minnesota still had one more choice in the first round. With the 10th pick, the Swarm chose five-foot-11 Alex Cripinsek from the Rochester Institute of Technology, who tallied 18 points and 66 ground balls as co-captain of the Tigers.
Cripinsek rejoins former RIT teammate Jordan MacIntosh who made the 2012 All-Rookie team in the NLL on the strength of his 51 points, 153 loose balls, and 151 faceoff wins.
Indeed, the Swarm are taking their young, hungry team and making it younger with all these kids. In 2012, their lineup featured 12 rookies at one point or other; assuming several of their high-end draft picks make the team, they'll easily be the youngest team in the NLL again.
Only three other teams made picks in the first round. The Buffalo Bandits chose Dhane Smith with the fifth pick, the Calgary Roughnecks took Joe Resetartis and Matthew Dinsdale, and the Colorado Mammoth selected Colton Clark with the ninth pick.
Adding some levity and quality entertainment value to the event was the Rochester Knighthawks, whose Twitter feed was easily the most entertaining of the night.
The defending NLL champions did not have a pick until the third round and spent the evening leading up to that pick making jokes such as:
The complete draft list can found found on nll.com.
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