By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
The Buffalo Bandits were busy in the National Lacrosse League’s Expansion Draft on Monday afternoon.
The Bandits lost two players in the procedure, just as other teams in the NLL did in the league’s first expansion draft in ten years. But they also were involved in a pair of trades.
In the eighth round of the nine-round draft, Philadelphia took Vaughn Harris from the Bandits. Harris had 18 goals and 14 assists for Buffalo last season after he came over from Georgia in a deal. The forward might have been the biggest surprise of the team’s 2018 season.
In the ninth and final round, goalie Dave DiRuscio was lost to the the Wings. DiRuscio only played in one game last season for the Bandits, as he was lost to injury less than a minute into the game. The veteran’s season turned out to be over at that point.
Immediately following the draft, the league announced a pair of deals – and both involved the Bandits. Philadelphia received defender Zac Reid from Buffalo in compensation for taking Harris (and leaving Ryan Wagner alone). Reid had five points in 17 games last season.
Then Buffalo acquired Bryce Sweeting from the San Diego Seals, who had taken him in the fifth round of the expansion draft. The defender had five points in 17 games for Colorado last season. Buffalo gave up defender Ethan Schott (nine games, three assists) and a second-round draft choice (No. 17 overall) in 2018. Sweeting, 24, is a three-year veteran.
When the dust had settled from the draft, the Bandits had held on to young defender Wagner, who was considered by many to be the Buffalo player mostly likely to go in the draft. They also were left with goalies Alex Buque and Zach Higgins, who saw almost all of the duty between the pipes last season.
Brett Hickey of Toronto went first to Philadelphia, while San Diego followed in the first round by picking Turner Evans of the Rock.
After the first round, the teams selected players from the same team in consecutive rounds. Philadelphia took two players from Georgia, two from Rochester, two from New England and two from Buffalo. San Diego took two players from Saskatchewan, two from Colorado, two from Calgary, and two from Vancouver. In other words, Toronto’s Evans is the only player from the draft who switched conferences – which may explain why the draft took less than 10 minutes.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB.)
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