Toronto Rock Athletic Centre In Oakville Will Host The League’s Annual Prospect Selection At 7 p.m.
Oakville, ON – Toronto Rock Owner, President and GM Jamie Dawick will find himself in somewhat unfamiliar territory tonight when 2016 NLL Draft begins at 7 p.m. ET at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, Ontario. The Rock haven’t selected in the first round of the draft since 2013 when they selected Ethan O’Connor, 9th overall.
The reason why the Rock haven’t drafted in the first round very often recently is because those first round picks have been parlayed into impact players to keep the Rock in the conversation among the top teams in the league. Josh Sanderson (2012), Nick Rose (2014) and Brodie Merrill (2015) are three of the key players that were acquired with those first round picks.
Aside from that 2013 NLL Draft, the only other previous draft over Dawick’s seven-year ownership of the team where the Rock held a first round pick was his first draft in 2009, when the Rock held three first round picks. That year may have been the Rock’s best-ever draft class with first round picks Garrett Billings (6th overall) and Stephan Leblanc (11th overall) going on to be important pieces of the team’s 2011 Champion’s Cup team. The other player they selected in the first round of 2009, Joel Dalgarno (7th overall), was a key part of the trade that brought Colin Doyle back to Toronto just a couple of months later in December 2009.
So as you can see, the groundwork for the immediate and long-term future of a team is often laid on draft night. Whether it is moving assets for draft picks, making a pick to later trade that player, or even making the selection of a player that will be a part of your franchise for the next decade, a lot can happen. Dawick hopes it’s the latter that happens on Monday evening.
“This is one of the top picks the franchise has ever had,” said Dawick of the second overall selection, noting that the last time the Rock held a pick this high was in 2002 when the team selected Patrick Merrill first overall. “This is very important for the future of the franchise to make sure we get the pick right. We don’t want to be picking here every year, but when you’re in this situation you hope to get a stud that is going to play for you for ten-plus years.”
The Rock did select second overall in one other draft back in 1998 when they selected Kaleb Toth. The Alberta native only played two seasons in Toronto but did score the famous championship winning goal in the Rock’s 2000 NLL Champion’s Cup win over Rochester in the last game ever played at Maple Leaf Gardens.
With a draft that is as wide open as ever, the top three prospects are one thing there isn’t that much debate about. Forward Ryan Keenan and defenders Michael Messenger and Challen Rogers are the consensus top three players that will be selected tonight.
The first and third overall picks belong to the back-to-back defending NLL champion Saskatchewan Rush and Keenan appears to be the likely first overall pick. Backing up that logic is the fact that he is also the son of Rush GM and Head Coach Derek Keenan, so the selection of Derek’s son Ryan first overall seems all that more likely given the possibility of a family reunion in the NLL.
All this adds up to Dawick and his staff having the choice of everyone else left in the talent pool. So, what name will Rock fans hear announced as the second overall pick coming to Toronto this season?
“We just want to take the best guy on the board when we pick at number two,” said Dawick who would not show his hand. “Assuming Saskatchewan is taking Ryan Keenan, the Rock will take the player we have on the board as the best available.”
After the first round comes to a conclusion, the Rock will not have to wait long to make their second selection of the evening as they hold the second pick in the second round, 12th overall. The Rock hold a total of five selections and will pick second in each of the six rounds of the draft with the exception of the fourth round. Toronto sent that pick to New England on July 1st of this year in exchange for transition player Paul Rabil.
Fans are welcome to attend the draft and there is no charge for admission. Those who cannot attend can watch the 2016 NLL Draft live online at NLL.com.
2017 Toronto Rock season tickets are now on sale and start at just $195. For more information, please contact a Toronto Rock account executive at 416-596-3075 or visit torontorock.com.