By most accounts, the National Lacrosse League’s 2012 Draft was a very good one, with numerous potential stars being selected. With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s time to have a look at how the rookies have been performing.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, first pick overall Mark Matthews is the real deal. The forward for the Edmonton Rush and Denver University alumnus is currently tied for second in the league in goals (35) and 10th overall in total points (59).
With three games still to play, the Rush have already won two more games than they did last year, as they currently sit in a first-place tie with the Calgary Roughnecks at 8-5. They have also gone from having the worst offense in the NLL in 2012 (167 goals for) to the third best in 2013 (171 goals for).
Needless to say, the impact Matthews has had in the NLL cannot be understated. He’s a lock for this season’s Rookie of the Year award and is shaping up to be a dominant force for years to come.
Edmonton had a second selection in the first round and that pick, Curtis Knight, is also having a solid impact for the Rush. His 38 points are fourth best on the Rush, making him a key contributor to their success thus far.
The team that dominated the draft, however, was the Minnesota Swarm. With four first-round picks and 10 selections overall, they loaded up on young talent for the second year in a row.
Second pick overall Brock Sorensen, from Ohio State University, is having a good rookie campaign on transition, having posted seven points and 34 loose balls while fellow first-rounder Alex Crepinsek, from RIT, has notched six points and 34 loosies. So these two top choices have done a good job solidifying the team’s back end and taking care of the unglamorous business that doesn’t produce a bunch of gaudy numbers.
The other two first round picks, Kiel Matisz (Robert Morris University) and Shayne Jackson (Limestone College) are producing the gaudy numbers. Matisz is third on the Swarm in goals (27) and Jackson is third in overall scoring (45 points).
The Buffalo Bandits are also reaping the benefits of a successful first-round pick. Dhane Smith is second on the Bandits in scoring, with 37 points.
One team that hasn’t knocked it out of the park with their draft choices this year is the Colorado Mammoth. One year after Adam Jones won the Rookie of the Year award in the NLL, first rounder Colton Clark from Bellarmine University has played in just three games so far, recording a single goal in that time.
Jaeden Gastaldo, who was selected in the fifth round, was off to a solid start on defense for the Mammoth, picking up three points and 17 loose balls in seven games before being injured.
The Calgary Roughnecks were the only other team involved in the first round of the draft. They took two players: Joe Resetarits and Matthew Dinsdale. Resetarits, who played his college lacrosse at the University of Albany, has recorded a solid 19 points in 11 games. Dinsdale has six points in 10 games so far.
But at the end of the day, the team that might have stolen the draft is the Washington Stealth. Although they didn’t have a first round selection, second rounders Tyler Garrison, Billy Hostrawser, and Justin Pychel have all put in game time with the Stealth. Defenseman Garrison has recorded a solid 12 points in 13 games and is third on the team in forced turnovers, with 18.
Third round pick Mitch Jones has also played in a couple games.
But most importantly for Washington, their sixth round pick, Kyle Buchanan, has been performing admirably for the Stealth. The 5’8″ Robert Morris product has 10 points, is third on the team in loose balls (62) and his 22 forced turnovers not only lead his team, but they also are good for third most in the NLL. Not bad for a guy taken in the last round.