Sorry Oiler fans but it isn’t Dany Heatley, at least not yet, but the Edmonton Rush will have arguably the best lacrosse player in the world on their team today. I know this isn’t hockey related, but Edmonton fans have been dying for a superstar and they’ll get one today.
Brodie Merrill is one of the faces of Lacrosse in the US as Reebok uses him in all of their ads. Merrill is a 6’4”, 215-lb beast. He was transition player of the year in the NLL this past season, has made the all-star team in all four of his seasons, and is easily the best all-around player in the game.
He would be similar to Scott Niedermayer, except he is tough as nails. Merrill can score, runs like a deer and is a great defender.
The Portland Lumberjaxs were rumoured to be relocating to Seattle, but that won’t be happening, and they will fold instead. This means a dispersal draft of their players, and Merrill is their best player. The Rush has the first pick in the draft, and with former Lumberjax coach and GM, Derek Keenan, now the coach and GM of the Rush it’s a lock Merrill will chosen by the Rush.
In the NLL, if a player is based in the west, there’s a better chance he’d rather play in the west division. The season is only four months, and many of the players fly in for games and practices, so if your guys are based out west it is easier and cheaper to get them to Edmonton, than say Toronto or Philly, and it works the same for eastern based guys.
Scott Self was one of the Rush’s best defenders last year, and he’d have lots of cache on the market. With Merrill coming in, I think Self is expendable, because he could land you a proven sniper, something the Rush, just like Oilers, are in dire need of.
Look for the Rush to make a splash today. Keenan knows the Portland players better than anyone, since he coached them the past four years. The Rush clearly needs more offence, but they also need some guys with size. (Another similarity to the Oilers offensive woes.)
Peter Morgan is 6’6” 230 pound forward who has 175 goals in 102 career games. Cory Conway is only 22 years old, has good size at 6’2, and has good speed and a great stick.
Ryan Powell led the Lumberjaxs in scoring last year, but he is more of a passer than a finisher. After Keenan takes Merrill at #1 you can bet he will try and trade for a few more picks in the dispersal draft today.
Ryan Benesch is currently leading the OLA (summer lacrosse) in scoring and while he struggled in Edmonton last year, he will be an attractive player to a team like Toronto (2nd pick) Minnesota (3rd pick), Rochester (4th pick), Philly (5th pick) or Minnesota (6th pick).
I can see the Rush trying hard to get three of the first six picks, and Keenan’s fingerprints will be all over this team.
Minnesota has the 3rd and 6th pick, and Self and Benesch would help the Swarm and give the Rush two picks with one trade. This seems like the most likely scenario.
Last year Toronto wanted Self, but the Rush wouldn’t move him, but they might with the 2nd pick.
In the second round if Pat Jones is available Keenan should grab him. Ball possession is vital in lacrosse, but the Rush has never had a decent faceoff man. Jones is consistently around 54% and the Rush could use him.
While the Rush doesn’t come close to garnering the attention of the Oilers, it is fascinating to see the similarities amongst the two. Both need a sniper, more size on offence and both need help on faceoffs.
Both have missed the playoffs the past three seasons and now both will have a new coach this coming season.
The Rush will get their star player today, and how eerie would it be if the Oilers followed suit sometime this summer?