NLL Trade Deadline - Winners & Losers
AUTHOR: AUSTIN OWENS
Winner: New England Black Wolves
The Black Wolves have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the last stretch, winning four of their last five. However, they’re likely to be without Callum Crawford, the league’s top scorer, for six games due to suspension.
Crawford elbowed the Toronto Rock’s Brad Kri in the head in February. He had his original penalty upgraded to a match penalty, which carries an automatic one-game suspension. Crawford is also a repeat offender, which means he would have to sit out an additional five games. The PLPA appealed the suspension, allowing the forward to play in the Black Wolves’ last game, but New England wasn’t willing to stand pat and be without a pivotal contributor to their lineup down the stretch.
They added Joe Resetarits from the Rochester Knighthawks for a pair of picks - a first-rounder in 2022 and a second in 2019.
The righty has improved offensively every year in the league. He posted his first 100-point campaign last season and has 15 goals and 43 points in 10 games this year.
Resetarits will be able to work with Tyler Digby to provide offence on the right side during Crawford’s absence.
A second this year and a first in a draft three years from now is a fair price to pay for a big addition to the attack.
Loser: Rochester Knighthawks (Current iteration)
For a team that represented the East Division in the NLL Cup finals last year, this season certainly wasn’t what the Knighthawks were envisioning. Sitting 3.5 games out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the east - and with relocation to Halifax coming in the next year - owner and general manager Curt Styres decided to sell off some key pieces to build for the future.
Adding Benesch was a big move for the Knighthawks and their success going forward. Unfortunately, they also shipped out several key contributors on the back end for draft capital. Paul Dawson, Ian Llord, and captain Scott Campbell were all traded ahead of the deadline for picks.
The Knighthawks’ defence is obviously less experienced than they were a week ago. They got just one 2019 pick out of any of the trades so the leaders of the defence have to come from within the room. Graeme Hossack is already a star on defence. He’ll be leaned on even more to anchor the back end.
The Knighthawks did place veteran Mike Manley on the active roster for the stretch run. He’ll add some experience to the lineup.
It’ll be hard for Rochester fans to see members of the team’s core leave. But it was necessary in order to retool and add youth down the road.
Winner: Halifax Thunderbirds
The rest of Rochester’s season looks like it could be rough. However, the future looks bright. Unfortunately for the Roch Vegas faithful, the team will be headed to Halifax following this season.
For one of the league’s freshest teams, it’ll be an exciting time. Yes, they’ve had some of the roster gutted heading into the 2019-20 campaign but the draft picks they’ve acquired will add much-needed depth down the road.
There are some truly exciting pieces on their current roster. Hossack is the reigning NLL Defensive Player of the Year, Jake Withers is one of the most dominant faceoff and transition players in the league, and Kyle Jackson and Austin Shanks are pivotal pieces to the offensive success.
Cody Jamieson is on pace to post 90-plus points for the fourth time in his career and the newly acquired Benesch will help form a fantastic one-two punch on the left side.
Rookie James Barclay is also having a promising first season, posting four assists and sitting second on the team in caused turnovers with nine.
Halifax should have a solid nucleus to build from. There will be more moves to come from the organization over the next six months as they move to a new city, but Styres is great at building teams. Trust the process.
Loser: Colorado Mammoth
All due respect to Cory Vitarelli, but the Knighthawks got a great deal when they acquired Benesch for the lefty straight up. The Mammoth did get a younger player in the trade, but Benny is just one year the elder.
In terms of stats, Vitarelli has been the designated crease man on the left side for Rochester during his career. He’s been able to work off Jamieson and bury in around the net. His career high in points is 46 and he hasn’t surpassed the 40-point plateau just twice since 2014.
Benesch, on the other hand, led the Mammoth in scoring last season with 93 points in 18 games. He had a career-high 113 points in 2015 and has posted 90-plus points in three of his last four NLL campaigns.
The acquisition of Llord should help them push for the playoffs down the stretch but the Benesch trade stings.
Winner: Saskatchewan Rush
The Rush are no strangers to winning. After taking home three of the last four championships, they’re tied for first in the West and should make the Division Finals at the least.
The team has everything: a star-studded offence, fantastic goaltending, and a great defence. That back end improved on Monday with the acquisition of Campbell for a pair of second-round picks - one in 2022 and a conditional pick in 2021.
Campbell, 37, has four goals and seven points on year, as well as 46 loose balls and seven caused turnovers. He’ll join a defensive core that already features Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, Brett Mydske, and Mike Messenger.
In terms of asset management, the Rush are among the best in the league. They currently own three first-round picks in 2019 and didn’t have to move any of them to gain talent for a playoff push. That’s a great bit of business by Derek Keenan.
Loser: Wes Berg, Calgary Roughnecks
Berg is in the midst of a contract holdout with the Calgary Roughnecks. Both he and Curtis Dickson missed the start of the year - the latter sat out the first four contests.
Dickson did, however, agree to a deal with the Roughnecks. Berg decided to continue his holdout and the situation has been relatively quiet since the collective bargaining agreement was ratified in November. He’ll lose out on his yearly salary and, more importantly, a year of his career as a result of the dispute.
However, Berg will make back the money over the summer, as he will be playing for Chrome LC in the new Premier Lacrosse League. The startup tour league offers players full-time employment, which will make up for the salary lost by sitting out the 2018-19 NLL campaign.
Barring a change of heart from the Riggers, Berg will miss the entire season. While Calgary trading the former No. 4 pick was unlikely, his absence from the league isn’t great for any of the parties involved.