The Redwoods have the feeling of a team transitioning. John Grant Jr joined their sideline, they traded away Matt Kavanagh for Matt Rahill and John Piatelli, and added a number of box players like Eli McLaughlin and Wes Berg. Ryan Lee returns from injury, Charlie Bertrand had a great box season, so it was looking like the indoor influence might be stronger on this team than in years past. With that in mind, most of their needs looked to be on the offensive end and in the midfield. If the plan is to play more box style offense, they needed more pieces to do that. With the 2nd pick, there were a number of directions the Redwoods could go. Defense, where they are solid but the talent is massive, or offense, where they may be reaching early? The picks”
Selections: Owen Grant, Brian Tevlin, Cole Kirst, Zach Cole
Best Pick: Brian Tevlin
Biggest Risk: Cole Kirst
At number two overall, I expected the Woods to in a different direction. Head Coach/GM Nat St Laurent told media he had eyes on some guys already taken in the NLL Draft. I figured that mean Thomas McConvey was the pick, as he was a #1 pick already. The Redwoods defense felt rock solid, and McConvey is a big boost to their offensive transformation. But the Woods went with OG. Grants is a physical monster, by far the most aggressive defender in the group, and by far the best in transition. He’ll score multiple two pointers this year. He’s opportunistic and not afraid of some risks in high leverage spots. My concern is that given the Woods personnel, it seems like Grant will play some LSM, and I continue to him to really be a close defenseman first. That’s his best spot. He can do both, and the Woods can rotate him through down low too, which I expect to see.
The midfield picks were Brian Tevlin and Cole Kirst. Tevlin is so incredibly valuable. Consider what the Chaos have in Ian MacKay. He plays shorty and can play with the offense, he plays SSDM for them. He can line up on wings. He can even play pole. Tevlin is that. Why does that matter? Because with 19 gameday spots, one guy who does 3 things means you have space to use two spots for specialized players. That’s a luxury and then some. Tevlin can play both ends in the midfield, be a man down short, and also pick up a pole in a serious pinch. Kirst can be both an attackman and midfield, between his career at Lehigh and Syracuse he’s done both. The name should be plenty familiar, there are Kirsts all over the lacrosse landscape. Cole is an excellent shooter, and while he also is a good dodger, he’s been productive in offenses that don’t ask him to dodge much. He’s a risk because in the long term, it’ll be a question of how he fits with so many pieces in front of him. If the Redwoods push harder towards a box team, he’ll crush it. Otherwise, he likely just loses rep to Myles and Sergio.
Finally, the Woods get some faceoff depth with Zach Cole. Last year, TD Ierlan slumped a bit. The Rock also may be playing for an NLL title, making TD slow to join the Woods to start the summer. Cole was rated a bit behind Sisselberger and LaSalla by Greg Gurenlian in terms of being pro ready, but he’s hardly a consolation prize. Players at the position that are as successful as Cole stay ahead of the pack by adapting and perfecting their craft. Cole can continue to do that with the PLL rule set.
For camp, a few more box type options could make sense for the Woods. It’s tough to think you can sort of do both at once, but who knows what Junior has up his sleeve. I think Dylan Watson, Alex Simmons, and Chet Comizion all make sense here.