Thank you for your very kind words. There is a lot of season left and we are just trying to focus on our next game and not worry about the playoffs until they are upon us.
You are correct, we are very happy with our crop of young players this year. Again, it is always our focus to fill roles. This past off-season we again focused our attention on the left handed offensive players in the draft. Sometimes you draft 4 guys to fill one spot, let them fight it out in camp and see who comes up with the goods. Jamie Shewchuk has been great in the early going this season and has continued to improve every game and practice.
The reason Jamie was available in the second round, probably had to do with his size, but mostly because other people were trying to fulfill other types of players on their roster. Many teams were looking for more veteran leadership and are reluctant to bring in an unproven commodity, we felt that our locker room chemistry was strong enough with our core of guys that we could take some chances this year. Jamie had a great junior career but his size was questionable, he has proven so far that this isn't an issue for him to contribute.
Nenad Gajic was drafted two years ago by San Jose, but was playing college hockey in Omaha, Nebraska and never reported to the team. In the NLL you retain the rights of a player for two years after the draft and then they become free agents that can sign anywhere they want. Once his two years had expired Nenad informed us that he might be interested in leaving college hockey and playing professional lacrosse.
He has been a great player in the summer leagues in Canada and is a very intelligent lacrosse player, far beyond his years. Nenad was highly sought after by many teams in the NLL and he ultimately decided to play for the Mammoth. An excellent pick up for us, that will be here a very long time come.
Jason Bloom was a bit of a surprise in the draft. We had him slated to go early in the draft and we never considered he would even be available to us. We were busy addressing other needs, ie. lefty offensive players, that as he began to drop off the list we thought we could get him after the draft as a "walk on" free agent.
Once Jason went undrafted, he was my first call the day after the draft with an invitation to camp. I am fairly sure that he wasn't drafted because he is currently living in Pensa Cola, FL finishing his masters degree. Other teams thought it would be too difficult to fly him in from Florida. Not so for us, we immediately recognized his tremendous athletic ability. Veterans in camp referred to him as "the horse". He is in great shape and will continue to be a very good player into the future.
I think the most important thing about all three of these guys is the quality of their character. Each of them is a great person from wonderful families. When you add quality individuals to the chemistry of your locker room like these young guys along with Carey, Taylor, Cornfield, Leveque and Burkholder you can rarely go wrong. It never hurts when they have great talent as well!!