The scorer of the winning goal in the 2016 National Lacrosse League final is one of 10 roster players left unprotected by the reigning N-L-L champion Saskatchewan Rush in advance of the league’s Expansion Draft on July 16.
Transition player Jeff Cornwall wasn’t one of the 11 players protected by Rush G-M and head coach Derek Keenan…nor were forwards Marty Dinsdale, N-L-L Cup M-V-P Jeff Shattler and Dan Dawson; transition players Adrian Sorichetti and Jeremy Thompson, defenders Nik Bilic, Matt MacGrotty and Brett Mydske plus goaltender Tyler Carlson. The San Diego Seals and Philadelphia Wings will each pick one player off each of the nine existing N-L-L franchise rosters to stock their teams in order to start play next season. Following is the news release from the Rush…
RUSH PREPARED FOR ROSTER SHAKEUP IN WAKE OF NLL EXPANSION DRAFT
With a loaded roster still coming down off the high of winning the franchise’s third NLL championship, the Saskatchewan Rush knew changes that were coming because of the league’s Expansion Draft would be difficult to digest.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Rush GM/head coach Derek Keenan, who had the unenviable task of deciding which players the team would leave unprotected and available for the Expansion Draft.
“It’s a very good roster and they like playing together. But it is good for the league and good for the players. We just hate to lose guys.”
The Rush, like all the current NLL teams, will lose two players, one each going to the league’s new clubs – the San Diego Seals and Philadelphia Wings. The Seals and Wings will choose which players they want on Monday, July 16th.
Saskatchewan put its protection stamp on:
*Forwards Mark Matthews, Robert Church, Ben McIntosh, Ryan Keenan and Curtis Knight
*Transition Chris Corbeil
*Defencemen Kyle Rubisch, Ryan Dilks, Mike Messenger and Matt Hossack
*Goalie Evan Kirk
From the active roster, Saskatchewan left unprotected forwards Marty Dinsdale, Jeff Shattler, and Dan Dawson, transitions Jeff Cornwall, Adrian Sorichetti and Jeremy Thompson, defencemen Nik Bilic, Matt MacGrotty and Brett Mydske, and goaltender Tyler Carlson. Also left unprotected from the practice roster are transition Tor Reinholdt, defenceman Nick Finlay, forward Johnny Pearson, and goalie Adam Shute (all players on practice rosters throughout the league are considered unrestricted free agents).
“Leaving Marty available was a very hard decision,” noted Keenan, though Dinsdale’s status as a restricted free agent leaves the Rush the option of matching any offer he gets.
The Rush expect to hold onto Champion’s Cup MVP Shattler, who has a year left on his current contract, along with Mydske and Thompson, who are both unrestricted free agents and have stated their interest in returning to Saskatchewan.
On defence, the Rush wisely opted to hold onto veterans Corbeil, Dilks and Rubisch along with rising talents Messenger and Hossack. Finlay, who has expressed his interest in returning to the Rush, is a potential replacement should the Seals and Wings select Cornwall or Sorichetti, while MacGrotty has shown to be a valuable fill-in and ready for more work.
“Corbeil and Rubisch might both be into their 30’s now but they’re superstars,” said Keenan. “Those kinds of players don’t grow on trees. They’re that good.”
Teams do have the right to re-acquire players selected in the Expansion Draft if a trade can be worked out
“We don’t want to lose Jeff or Adrian, but Mike and Matt are four years younger,” added Keenan. We can still do somethings, but we don’t have anything pre-arranged yet. If nothing comes up, we’ll just see how things fall. We did contemplate going with (protecting) four forwards and six defencemen, but that could have seriously depleted our offence.”
Shute, who earned the victory in his first-ever start this past season, may wind up as Kirk’s regular backup next season. The Rush would like to have teammate extraordinaire Carlson back, but experienced goaltending is probably the hottest commodity in the current and future expansion markets. Carlson is an unrestricted free agent.
Any holes the Rush do find they have remaining after the Expansion Draft could be at least partially filled at the Entry Draft in September. Saskatchewan owns three first-round picks – No. 5, No. 10 and No. 11 – and teams, especially the new franchises, have made inquiries to see what it would take to pry one of those picks away from the Rush.
A foursome of transitions is amongst the potential players who could land fifth overall for the Rush – Matt Gilray (Peterborough/Bucknell), Ian MacKay (Six Nations/Vermont), Travis Burton (Brampton/Paris River), and Shane Simpson (Six Nations/Syracuse). The Rush, who also have three first-round picks in the 2019 Entry Draft, could ship the 10th or 11th pick out in any number of directions, including re-acquiring a player lost in the Expansion Draft or grabbing an additional 2020 first-rounder.