CALGARY, AB — Six rounds and nine selections later, the Roughnecks left the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre with quite the draft haul.
General Manager Mike Board is happy with the selections.
“I would say that we’re happy,” Board said. “Hard to predict and project players at this point, but we did a lot of research and we feel that we got some really good prospects with some real big upside.”
With two picks in the first round, the Roughnecks were in a great spot to get a pair of very strong lacrosse players.
“We felt that in the top seven, we were going to get two players we had ranked extremely high,” Board said. “The draft went the way we felt it would go and we were happy that they were both there. Reilly O’Connor’s got a great lacrosse IQ and he does a lot of things really, really well. Wesley Berg, same thing. We’re getting athletes, leaders, and guys with skill.”
Before the draft, Board noted that he expected the first round picks to be able to step into the line-up in year one.
While the leap to the NLL is a big one, it’s one he believes that Wesley Berg and Reilly O’Connor can make.
“You don’t want to put too much pressure on a kid. It’s a leap to jump into this league,” explained Board. “We would like them to play, but we’re not going to rush them into anything and put them into a position where they can’t succeed. Getting used to the NLL game, playing at a faster level, and a bigger level is never easy. But these are two good kids that we think can make that jump.”
It’s not just their physical abilities that will allow them to make the jump.
They are mature kids with plenty of intangibles that will help them succeed immediately.
“I think it’s their maturity level,” noted Board. “They’ve both been through college and they were captains on their teams. We look at them and they’ve had success at every level. We want them to be able to continue that success as Roughnecks.”
Interestingly, all of the Roughnecks top picks had been teammates at one point or another in their lacrosse careers.
O’Connor and de Snoo played together in junior with the Whitby Warriors. O’Connor and Berg teamed up on Team Canada for the U-19 Men’s Field World Championships in Finland. This past summer, Berg and de Snoo joined forces with the Oakville Rock of the MLS.
This was all coincidence, Board acknowledged. It was simply a matter of best player available.
“We went with the best player available when we picked based on our perceived needs and the athleticism of the players that we picked.”
While the team snagged some quality runners, they were also very excited to add a couple of extremely talented, young goalies.
Christian Del Bianco (15th overall) and Jordan Kancsal (44th overall) join a strong group of net minders that already includes the likes of Frankie Scigliano, Mike Poulin, and Peter Dubenski.
“It’s a very important position in our league, so if you get the chance to add a couple of young goalies to your stable, it’s always important,” Board said. “Again, we don’t know where everyone will land, but we’re excited that we’ve got a couple young prospects in goal.”
Due to the skill level and age, there is a strong comparison to current Roughnecks goaltender Frankie Scigliano.
“If you look at those kids and their age, it’s a lot like what Frankie went through,” Board said. “We drafted him fairly young and he stuck with it. It’s been great because now he’s used to the game, used to the NLL, he’s where he is because he put in the time. This is a starting point for the goalies so it’s going to be interesting.”
During the summer, the Roughnecks lost a handful of players including lefty forward Daryl Veltman and defenceman Jeff Moleski.
With the departure of some roster players, the team will have some openings when camp opens. Having added nine bodies in the draft, there will be immense competition.
“I think that’s something that happens because of the numbers. There are some kids out there that are hungry to show what they can do. We’re excited about that part,” Board said. “We’re excited that we’re going to have some competition at camp and potentially get younger.
“We expect the kids to come in shape and push the veterans. We expect the veterans to come in shape and be ready to play. There’s some options out there. We want to see what they can do and see where we are once we get to camp.”