CALGARY, AB — Navigating a trade in the NLL is never easy.
Just ask Mike Board, who pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal with two other teams.
The Roughnecks sent Shawn Evans and a third round draft pick to the New England Black Wolves in exchange for Tyler Digby and a pair of first round picks – in 2017 and 2018. That was the final piece of the puzzle after the Black Wolves had acquired Digby just 24 hours earlier in an exchange with the Vancouver Stealth that saw Garrett Billings go the other way.
The trade was consummated after Shawn Evans expressed a desire to play closer to his hometown of Peterborough, ON. Board shopped his star forward and league MPV to all five eastern-based teams. After nearly a month of phone calls, emails, texts and face-to-face conversations with various other general managers, he was able to net the value he had his sights set on – a young, emerging star forward and two future first round draft selections.
“It took us a long time to get this done,” explained Board, who also shocked the NLL world with a jaw-dropping deal when he acquired Evans at the 2011 Draft. “I’d been talking with Shawn for a while and it’s about family. It happens in our league where he’s travelled for four years and he’s got two twins and he’s got three kids under the age of five. The travel and the time away from the family was hard for him.“
It was an interesting scenario for Board. He wanted to accommodate his star forward but with the current NLL landscape, he wasn’t sure he could make it happen.
“We had some good heart to heart talks and I said I would do what I can to get him in the east so he can be closer to home. We were able to make this happen. We’re sad to see him go, but at the same time, we feel we got a really good young player and some picks for the future. I think it’s one of those deals where everyone can be happy.”
Negotiating a deal for the right value was paramount for the Riggers’ boss.
It couldn’t have been done without an acceptable offer, but Board worked tirelessly so that he could accommodate Evans.
“As part of my conversations with Shawn, I said that I would call all the eastern teams and let them know that you’re available,” Board said. “I said the only thing that Shawn and I did discuss was that I had to get the right value to get the deal done. It probably didn’t get done as fast as everyone wanted because we had some negotiating to do and another team involved.
“It took a bit longer than normal, but Shawn was very good, we talked on a daily basis. I kept him and his family up to date. We finally said okay, we’ve at the point where we have to do something. Here we are on Monday making a blockbuster.”
Evans’ decision to be closer to family came as no surprise to Board — he understands the nature of the sport and league, but other general managers around the league were surprised when they heard he was available.
“I’ve been asked about Evy before and I would say no,” joked Board about the notion of dealing Evans in the past. “The NLL is like this, they are part-time athletes, and he had to get home. I talked to Evy at length and we’ve had some really good conversations over the last couple of weeks. He’s fine with it.”
Despite losing the reigning MVP and longtime Rigger Andrew McBride, as well as adding a pair of promising first rounders as part of the Roughnecks’ 2015 NLLDraft haul – Wesley Berg and Reilly O’Connor, Board stressed the Roughnecks aren’t rebuilding. The Riggers have a much different look heading into the 2016 season but they still have a number of weapons and the majority of their core from past seasons intact.
“Tyler Digby is a really good addition. He adds a dimension that we haven’t had in our offence for a while,” Board said. “He’s a big guy who can do things that other can’t because he’s a big guy with touch. Our offence will look different with some youth in there, but I’m thinking that we won’t miss a beat. That’s what we’re hoping to do. That’s why we targeted the player that we got. We felt that he could bring something to our offence that we haven’t had. It’ll be a different offence, but we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do.”
With the deal in the rear-view mirror, Board is happy to be focused on the upcoming season.
“He’s looking forward to a new chapter in New England and we’re looking forward to our next chapter, too,” Board said.