I thought I would post a note here to discuss the draft, it seems there are many questions out there but no one has gotten around to posting them...
First we are thrilled with how the draft shaped up for us on Wednesday. We couldn't be happier with the draft from top to bottom. We feel that it was a very rich draft class with many players that can contribute now and in the future.
#4 Cliff Smith, University of Denver, 6'3", 200lbs, offensive lefty. Cliff is a big, strong, left hander that will shoot from the outside and penetrate the middle while setting good strong picks to make his teammates better. Smith plays with an edge and toughness that we lack on our offense and won't be afraid to mix it up and protect his teammates in the offensive end. A power forward that can score big goals right away is tough to find in the draft, we are very happy with this pick.
#5 Alex Gajic, University of Denver, 6'4", 225lbs, offensive righty. Nenad's youngest brother has been described as the most gifted of the Gajic family, Nenad says that his young brother will be the best of all of them. Very big and very strong with outstanding hands, a pure goal scorer that will be a mainstay on the crease of the Mammoth powerplay right away and hopefully for years to come. We contemplated the very talented Garret Billings with this pick but he and Cory Conway play a very similar game, we opted to go with a different kind of inside player that doesn't need the ball to create great scoring opportunities. Alex won't have the ball in his stick long but will make an immediate impact on the scoresheet.
#17 Brad Richardson, University of Denver, 6'3", 210lbs, defensive/transition lefty. Another very big, very strong, very athletic player that could contribute right away. Brad had a very strong season with the Coquitlam Adanacs of the WLA. Bruce Murray is very excited about this pick and categorizes him as a horse that can run forever. He can play great defense and get the ball on offense quickly. A tough player with a good stick. We were thrilled that he dropped this low as we had him pegged to go late in the first round.
#32 Shaun Dhaliwal, Burnaby Junior A, 5'10, 175lbs, offensive righty. Shaun is not as big as our first three draft picks but what he lacks in size he makes up for in tremendous skill and work ethic. This player has great hands and has a great knack for getting inside defenses and finding the net. As Jamie Shewchuk recovers from back surgery, successfully, these two players could be mirror images of each other on opposite sides of the offense. Along with Shewchuk, Nenad Gajic, Leyshon, Palidwor and Safarik our first four picks in the draft are all Minto Cup champions together from the Burnaby Lakers Junior system.
#35 Ryan McFadyen, Duke University, 6'7, 240lbs, defensive righty. A dominating, athletic force for the Blue Devils, Ryan has little indoor experience but plenty of grit. If he can pick up the indoor game quickly he could be a very intriguing pick. At Duke he was a very athletic punishing long pole that played on the wing for faceoffs, he also played football at Duke as a first timer who picked the game up in his 5th year of NCAA eligibility. A tight end on the football team is a physical speciman and will be an interesting Mammoth training camp participant. His former Duke teammate Mike Ward says "McFadyen eats Canadians for snacks!"
#46 Ben Davies, New Westminister Junior A, 6'4" 200lbs , defensive lefty. This pure defender and captain of his junior New West Junior team is a solid defensive player and leader. Ben was a steal for us at #46 but will sit out this season with an ACL reconstruction. He played courageously with a torn ACL in the western finals against the eventual BC champion, Coquitlam Adanacs. His injury allowed us to draft him later than he would have gone healthy, but with a very deep defensive corp returning this was a great pick for us for the future. Ben will get surgery and be ready to play at next season's training camp.
#55 Neil Tyacke, New Westminster Junior A, 6'3 185lbs, goalie. Another New West product on a very good Junior team. Neil was a solid netminder that was one of the best available in this year's draft. He will compete with our current goaltenders for the opportunity to gain a roster spot on this year's Mammoth squad. I know there are lots of questions with the trade that we made in the draft yesterday. Mike Ward approached us recently, he has transfered to Hofstra's School of Law on Long Island, NY and was going to be unable to continue with us in Denver. Mike was a wonderful addition to the team last year and stepped in to contribute in a difficult season with many injuries, he gained some valuable experience and will be a very good player in this league as he continues to play. I spoke with Mike after the trade and we had a great conversation, he wishes the Mammoth well and thanked us for a great expereince here in the Mile High City. He especially loved the fans and will miss home games and his Mammoth teammates. Mike is simply a great person and we wish him all the best in Law School and with the Wings.
#56 Rocco Romero, Cornell University, 5'9", 175lbs, offensive/transition righty. A Denver native and Cornell graduate, Rocco was a huge contributor to Cornell's run at a national championship that fell short in a heartbreaking loss to Syracuse on Memorial Day weekend. A tough, completly unselfish, fierce competitor with a huge heart. Rocco has been undervalued his entire career but players with his heart, work ethic, drive and focus will serve to set the tone at this year's training camp.
And as some of you may read over the course of the last few days we have had several conversations with a specific eastern team about a potential trade that we are still attempting to complete. At this point everything is speculative but we are attempting to overhaul the offense and hope to bring an exciting, hard working brand of offensive, defensive and transitional championship lacrosse back to Pepsi Center.
Stay tuned, more to come.