Trio of trades highlight start of NLL offseason

Wes Berg.jpg

The National Lacrosse League offseason is now in full swing, and while unrestricted free agents can’t officially sign until Aug 1, there was still some excitement in the form of the 2019 Expansion Draft this past week. Rochester and New York officially added the first members to their respective rosters, but following the draft, there were some trades that came down the pipeline.

A second Evans headed to Rochester

Turner Evans did manage to avoid being taken in the expansion draft for the second consecutive summer. But with speculation that a move to Rochester would happen, the Knighthawks went out and acquired the lefty in exchange for defender Shane Simpson, who they took from Calgary in expansion.

Evans will now team up with his cousin Shawn, who was taken first overall in the expansion draft by the Knighthawks. The pair have played together over the past few summers with the Peterborough Lakers, so their chemistry should help the team immediately. Add in Cattoni, and the Hawks have a nice nucleus of players who know one another well.

The 25-year old Evans will be joining his third team in as many years. He was the first player selected by the Seals in last summer’s expansion draft. Prior to that, he was taken by the Toronto Rock with the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NLL Draft.

In his lone season in San Diego, Evans tied his career-high in points with 45 and had a new high of 19 goals.

Simpson, 24, was the sixth overall selection in the 2018 NLL Draft. He helped to bring a championship back to Calgary, contributing with three goals and 10 points in as many games. He played in the first game of the NLL Cup Final but sat the second and deciding game. He’ll need more time to develop, but all signs point to Simpson being a stud on the back end for years to come.

Berg set to Dive In

That wouldn’t be the final time Simpson was moved during the day. The Seals would flip Simpson, along with their 2019 first-round pick and a 2021 second-rounder, to Calgary in exchange for Wes Berg.

Berg, 24, was taken by the Roughnecks with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NLL Draft. While sharing the right side of the floor

The righty opted to sit out the beginning of the 2019 campaign due to a contract dispute with Calgary, and while teammate Curtis Dickson - with whom he shares an agent - returned after four games, Berg opted to stay on the sidelines for the entire year. That meant that he was out of the picture when the Riggers made their run to the NLL Cup Final, where they’d sweep the Buffalo Bandits to capture their first championship since 2009.

In his rookie campaign, Berg managed to finish third in team scoring with 67 points in 18 games. He’d continue to improve offensively with every given year, and in 2018, he’d set new career highs in goals (37) and assists (49).

The Coquitlam, B.C., native will be closer to home as a member of the Seals. His acquisition could also suggest that the right side of the floor for San Diego will look a little different in 2020. The team got great performances from Both Dan Dawson and Garrett Billings, who were the Seals’ top two scorers. Additionally, Kyle Buchanan was great and rookie Connor Kearnan only has room to grow.

Dawson is going to be 38 years old when the season kicks into full swing, and while he proved last season that he’s still got it, you can never have too much depth in the NLL - especially with teams losing bodies every summer to rapid expansion.

Berg has proven to be one of the most exciting young forwards in the league during his short career. He’s gotten in some reps this summer, appearing in a pair of games for Chrome in the PLL as well as a trio of games with the Coquitlam Adanacs. The two sides should be able to come to terms and the Seals will absolutely love the righty once he joins the squad.

Tinney to The Den

In a final piece of business, the Georgia Swarm traded forward Joel Tinney to the New England Black Wolves for a second-round pick in 2021.

Tinney was the 18th overall pick of last year’s draft, but on a Georgia team that’s stacked up front, he only managed to appear in five games. He finished with a point per game.

He’ll get a new opportunity under head coach Glenn Clark, who also coached Tinney for parts of two summers with the Toronto Beaches. The Black Wolves do have some depth on the left side of the floor, with Stephan Leblanc and Reilly O’Connor finishing second and third in team scoring last year, respectively. Dereck Downs also had a promising rookie campaign and was protected by New England in the expansion draft.

With the Tinney trade, Georgia lost their third and final Johns Hopkins alumni. In the expansion draft, forward Holden Cattoni and defender John Ranagan were taken with the third and fourth picks.

Austin Owens