Bandits Draft Byrne First Overall

by Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page

The Buffalo Bandits hope Josh Byrne will be the cornerstone of their rebuilding efforts as they prepare for the 2018 season.

The Bandits took Byrne with the first overall pick in the National Lacrosse League draft on Monday. The session was staged outside of Toronto at the Toronto Rock’s practice facility. Byrne was one of four picks added to the team in the first two rounds of the draft as the team rebuilds its roster.

“Obviously it’s a dream come true,” Byrne said about his selection when interviewed on nlltv.com’s broadcast. “To be mentioned with some of the guys out here – it’s a humbling experience.”

It was only the second time in team history that the Bandits had the first overall pick in the draft. The selection came after the Bandits finished 6-12 earlier this year, the worst record in the NLL.

Byrne, 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, was considered the top scorer to be available in this year’s draft. The lefty spent the summer with the Major League Lacrosse’s Chesapeake Bayhawks, setting a rookie record in the outdoor league with 39 goals. In the indoor game, this year he had 16 points in four games for Burnaby (British Columbia) of the Western Lacrosse Association.

At Hofstra, Byrne had 71 goals with 40 assists in two seasons. He was a third-team USILA All-American last season.

Adding a forward

The Bandits were busy adding to their list of forwards even before the draft started. They acquired Jordan Durston from Vancouver for forward Anthony Malcom and the first of their two second-round draft choices (12th overall).

Durston has played two seasons in the NLL, both with the Stealth. He’s a 5-11, 215-pound forward who shoots left. Durst had 25 goals and 18 assists for 43 points in 2017.

Malcom, 24, also played two years with Buffalo. The forward had 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points in only nine games last season. He went 17-21-38 in 17 games as a rookie in 2016.

With that done, Buffalo took forward Chase Fraser of the University of the District of Columbia 13th overall. If the Bandits were looking to add good young athletes, Fraser certainly qualifies. He is 6-3 and 200 pounds, and is said to possess a combination of speed and power. Fraser also is a good faceoff man.

“I’ll do whatever they want me to do, and I’ll get the job done,” Fraser said to nll.com about his role with the Bandits.

General manager Steve Dietrich added another second-rounder in this year’s draft in a trade with Georgia. A second-round pick in 2018 went to the Swarm. The Bandits took their first defender of the night in Ethan Schott of Whitby. Schott is considered a big, physical defender. He’s currently recovering from a broken thumb, but he says he should be ready to go for the coming season.

“I’ve got a couple of weeks left, but it’s healing well,” Schott said. “I’ve been in the gym every day. It hasn’t stopped me much yet.”

The other Bandits’ selections:

Round 3 – Dallas Bridle, transition, High Point University.

Round 4 – MacKenzie Mitchell, transition, Orangeville.

Round 4 – Connor Laird, defender, Lindenwood University.

Round 5 – Dylan Malloy, forward, Brown University.

Round 6 – Braden Wallace, transition, R.I.T.

 

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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