By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
The Buffalo Bandits paid the expected price for having the deepest roster in the National Lacrosse League during Tuesday’s expansion draft.
In fact, Buffalo players went first and second in the procedure.
Rochester wasted no time in taking Shawn Evans from the Bandits first overall. New York followed with the pick of Jordan Durston.
Evans figured to be an attractive player in the expansion draft. He had 94 points last season, second on the Bandits. The forward is a former Most Valuable Player of the NLL. The veteran also spent six seasons in Rochester (2006 to 2011).
Evans’ biggest drawback at this point in his career probably is his age (33). The Bandits had a group of excellent young forwards, including Josh Byrne, Dhane Smith, Chris Cloutier and Chase Fraser, who needed to be protected.
Durston is 25 years old and had 47 points last season. He was a key part of last season’s team, known for doing some of the dirty work on offense. Buffalo probably had to choose between Durston and Thomas Hoggarth in terms of protecting a forward. Hoggarth had 29 goals last season.
The picks of Evans and Durston did allow the Bandits to hang on to some of their other players. For example, Corey Small, 32, was unprotected even though he was the team’s leading goal-scorer last season with 36 points.
Other unprotected players were Reid Acton, Kevin Brownell, Craig England, Jon Hartnett, Zach Higgins, Dylan Malloy, Ethan O’Connor, Devlin Shanahan, Matt Spanger, Mark Steenhuis, Bryce Sweeting, and Nick Weiss.
A few former Bandits were picked in the expansion draft. Goaltender Alex Buque, now with New England, went to New York. He was sent to the Black Wolves when the Bandits were about to add free agent Matt Vinc. Rochester took Matthew Bennett from Philadelphia in the eighth round. Brandon Goodwin, a ex-first round pick of the Bandits, went to Rochester. Jeff Cornwall, who scored the series-clinching goal in the final for Saskatchewan against Buffalo in 2016, was picked by New York.
There was no immediate word about a trade involving the Bandits after the draft.
The Bandits won the NLL East last season and lost in the finals to the Calgary Roughnecks.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)