The Minnesota Swarm made nine selections in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft, two of which were in the first round. Those two picks turned out to be transition player Jordan MacIntosh and goaltender Evan Kirk. The team then took Corbyn Tao in the second round, and Jay Card in the third. All four players played regular minutes for the team in the 2012 season, and each made big impacts on a season that saw the franchise win its first ever playoff game.
The moves Swarm owner John Arlotta made last summer to secure these picks had many second guessing him. Adding so much youth to a team simply couldn't work. Arlotta knew better, knowing that character players with youth and speed were a great way to throw a wrench into a league that deifies the veteran class. Arlotta was eventually proven to be correct, as his team advanced deeper into the playoffs than ever before, and Arlotta took home the General Manager of the Year award.
This year, Arlotta and the Swarm own four first round draft picks as a result of the moves made last summer, among others. The team will select three picks in a row at the second, third, and fourth overall position, and then follow those up with the last pick in the first round at tenth overall. The second over all pick will be the highest in the draft the team has ever selected.
As the draft moves forward, the Swarm will be scheduled to select five more times between rounds three and six, giving them a franchise record tying nine picks in this year's draft.
What does this mean for the Swarm, and who might be on the board with those first round picks?
The Swarm are already a young team. With a core built around captain Andrew Suitor, Ryan Benesch, and Callum Crawford, and now stocked with the talent listed above, adding four first round players into the mix can only suggest the team gets better. More speed, more youth, and all the time in the world to let these guys get to know each other and build their game together, the Swarm should be about to take a huge step forward, and the rest of the league playing catch-up.
The Swarm had very few weaknesses last year, and were a dangerous team to play week in and week out. You can bet that coach Joe Sullivan could rattle of a list, and he and Arlotta will look to not only address those weaknesses, but to turn them into strengths going into the NLL season in January.
Players likely to be on the board when the Swarm make their first three picks are:
Brock Sorenson, Kiel Matisz, Carter Bender, Dhane Smith, Jordan Critch, Shayne Jackson, Curtis Knight, Matthew Dinsdale, and Robbie Campbell
The good folks over at ILIndoor have the Swarm taking Sorenson, Matisz, and Jackson - in that order. Sorenson looks to be best suited for the transition game, and adding him to the powerhouse game the Swarm already have, could make the team that much more difficult to play against. He's a big man, listed at 6' 5", 220 pounds on his Buckeye profile page, which is always a benefit in a physical game like the NLL plays.
Matisz would be a big, power forward type player that has the ability to score from almost anywhere. He, too, is is listed at 6' 5", 220 pounds, which would give the Swarm a weapon every team wants. A big man, tough to push off the ball, who can score on a whim? Yeah, the Swarm won't be passing on that. The good thing is, with three picks in a row, they won't have to.
If the Swarm go with Jackson with this group, they would be adding a smaller player that can score. At 5' 9", 185 pounds, Jackson would certainly be an option if the Swarm are looking for quick, tricky, left handed shot in the forward ranks. This is an intriguing pick for the Swarm, but one I can certainly see Arlotta passing on.
It is difficult to find a reason not to take Sorenson and Matisz, but with that fourth pick, Arlotta could complete a size trifecta and take a guy like Carter Bender, who is a jack of all trades and comes in at 6'4", 220 pounds. He can play in nearly any situation, and short of suiting up in goal, can play anywhere on the field. If Arlotta is thinking size, and someone to match up well with the first two no-brainer picks, Bender could be the best way to go here.
Plus, think of the all the Futrama clips that could be used at the Hive. That's too good to pass up.
When and Where You Can Watch
The NLL Entry Draft is in Toronto, so unless you're already there, you likely aren't going to make it. You can watch it live on NLL.com starting at 6PM central time, or you can head down to Joeseph's Gill in St. Paul to watch with fellow Swarm fans, get some deals on food & drink, and be able to participate with the new draft picks in a Google+ Hangout chat.
No matter where you are at, or where you are watching, you should be tuned in if you are a Swarm fan. Four first rounders doesn't happen very often, and this could be another big step in creating a team that can win for a long, long time.
For continuing coverage of the Swarm, be sure to stay tuned to the Swarm Hub here on SB Nation Minnesota.