It was quite a day for trades in the National Lacrosse League on Friday, and the Buffalo Bandits were right in the middle of it. Let's have a recap to sort these matters out.
The fun started when Edmonton shipped Shawn Williams, its leading scorer, to Minnesota for a pair of second-round draft choices in 2013. The Rush also sent Paul Rabil to Rochester for Jarrett Davis.
Then came the big deal. The Bandits gave up their first-round pick, the third overall in 2012, to Minnesota. In return the Swarm gave up Williams, defender Brendon Doran, a first-rounder in 2012 (the fifth overall), and two second-rounders (#14 and #18) in 2012. If you are counting, that's a five-for-one transaction.
That's quite a haul, although circumstances may make this a little easier to understand.
First off, Williams is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. The Rush made it sound as if they couldn't re-sign him, and were happy to get some picks for a player who has scored more than 1,000 points in his career. Williams had 68 points last year, not bad for a man of 37 years of age at the time. It's interesting that Minnesota gave up two picks for him under the circumstances.
The Swarm obviously gave up a lot to move up two spots in the first round. But think of the big picture -- they now have the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 10th picks in the first round. If you are wondering how Minnesota can have the 10th pick in the first round of a nine-team league, I believe it is a case where a pick was acquired before a team such as Boston dropped out of the league, so it still gets the choice. That is a huge, huge haul in total from one draft. It's easy to believe that second-round picks would have trouble making the Minnesota roster next season, so the team won't miss them too much in 2013.
Still, the Bandits didn't do badly for moving down a couple of spots. They needed some young players badly, and this turns one draft choice into three ... all of them in the top 18 of the draft. So Buffalo will have five picks in the top 18. You'd have to like the chances of the Bandits getting some help there. Williams, a former Bandit, obviously could wait until next week to sign anywhere, so there is some risk there. But new general manager Steve Dietrich talked as if Williams was already signed, and Williams -- according to our friends at IL Indoor -- wanted to come back East. No matter when or how he gets to Buffalo, Williams ought to help if he does sign a contract. As for Doran, maybe Dietrich spotted something when the defenseman played in Toronto in 2010.
Therefore, the Bandits moved down two spots -- in a draft in which there are said to be two great players and then a drop-off -- for a couple of extra seconds, a young defenseman, and the chance to talk money with a Hall of Famer. And maybe, two of those four second-rounders can be packaged to sneak back up into the first round.
That sounds like a good deal for Buffalo under its circumstances, but I can't argue with what Minnesota did either. Stars usually are taken with the first few picks in a draft, and the Swarm have a great chance to add to an excellent young base led by last year's first rounders Jordan MacIntosh and Evan Kirk. It's easy to like their situation entering the draft as well -- even if it's easy to wonder if they had to do all that to move up two spots.
As for Rabil, he was never going to play out West so at least the Rush get Davis, a helpful player, for him. It's good to have Rabil, an exciting, athletic player, in the league.
Why do I have the feeling the Bandits aren't done yet? Hmmm.
--- Budd Bailey