Jul 3, 2018

40718571390_1b4dac653f_o.jpg(July 3, 2018)… The Rochester Knighthawks announced their Protected Player List today prior to the 2018 National Lacrosse League Expansion Draft. Rochester elected to go with five forwards, five defensemen, and one goalie. The other option was securing 11 runners and no goalie.

Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres admitted that trimming down the roster was a complicated process, especially after Rochester came within one win of raising the NLL Cup.

“We’d liked to have kept everybody but, unfortunately, we had to make some tough decisions and had to go with the guys who could take the next step,” he said. “We came up a little bit short this year, and these guys can possibly take us to the next level, where we need to be.”

“It’s always tough with expansion drafts,” added Styres. “But one thing is for certain, everybody is going through the same thing as us when selecting their 11 players.”

The Philadelphia Wings own the first selection in the Expansion Draft, which will take place via conference call on Monday, July 16. The San Diego Seals, who won the June 2 expansion coin toss, will have the second selection after opting to pick first in the 2018 NLL Entry Draft. Since there are two expansion teams, each NLL team will only lose two players through the Expansion Draft. 

ROC_playerlist.jpgThe Knighthawks’ list includes some of the top performers from this past season, along with several young, impact players.

Forwards: Cody Jamieson, Kyle Jackson, Joe Resetarits, Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell

Defensemen: Graeme Hossack, Jake Withers, Brad Gillies, Luc Magnan and Scott Campbell

Goalie: Matt Vinc

Joe Resetarits headlines the group of forwards after registering the first 100-point season of his career. He was joined by former NLL MVP Cody Jamieson and Kyle Jackson. “Jammer” led the Knighthawks with 20 playoff points, while Jackson is coming off a season in which he posted career highs in goals (37), assists (36) and points (73). Rochester also protected two of the NLL’s top rookie forwards from this past season: Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell. Shanks finished second in the league in points among rookies with 52 and tied for third in the NLL in goals (11) during the playoffs. Fannell was third in points among rookies with 37, which was sixth best on the team.

On defense, the Knighthawks locked up Graeme Hossack, who has become one of the most dominant players in the game. In just his third year in the league, Hossack finished tied for the NLL lead in caused turnovers (34) and third in loose balls. He also established career highs in goals (seven), assists (seven), points (14) and loose balls (163). 

Rochester also protected Brad Gillies and Luc Magnan, who are both entering their fourth seasons in the NLL. Gillies had a breakout year in 2017-18, registering career highs in assists (11) and points (19). Meanwhile, Magnan set career highs in goals (two), assists (16), points (18) and games played (18). Jake Withers made the Protected List after excelling during his rookie season. The Peterborough, Ontario native led the league with 279 faceoff wins and a .670 winning percentage. The veteran of the group is Scott Campbell, who completed his 14th season in the NLL in 2017-18. “Soupy,” who is eighth in team history in games played (130), posted career highs in assists (14) and points (20) this past season.

The decision to keep the 36-year-old Campbell came down to his ability to defy his age, and remain one of the fittest and athletic players on the Knighthawks 

“Everybody needs youth, but we couldn’t take that chance,” said Styres. “You look at Soupy’s age, but at the end of the day he is a 36-year-old trapped in a 27-year-old body.”

In goal, Rochester chose five-time NLL Goalie of the Year Matt Vinc. “Vno” backstopped the Knighthawks to the 2018 NLL Finals and became only the second netminder in league history to eclipse 7,000 career saves.

Players like Vinc, Campbell, Resetarits, and Jamieson are among the greatest names in the game. With solid veterans and such a young core, the Knighthawks have the right formula to take a shot at the Cup once again.

“The game has changed so much the past 10 years. It’s getting faster and younger,” said Styres. “You can’t have enough young guys on the team, and with the right mix of veterans, it’s a really good combination."

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