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Bandits' Notebook: Trade with Colorado went down to the wire

It was 2:55 on Monday afternoon, and the National Lacrosse League's trading deadline was only five minutes away. If Buffalo Bandits' General Manager Steve Dietrich was going to make a move, he was going to have to wrap it up in a hurry.

"I made calls," he said. "I talked to everyone in the league. Teams called about guys I didn't want to move, and I called about other teams' guys that they didn't want to move. It amounted to a lot of nothing."

However, the Bandits did have a rather unique situation with one of their players. Brad Self had expressed a desire for personal reasons to go to Colorado if he was going to be dealt.

"When we got him at the draft last year, there was some talk that he would end up there," Dietrich said. "He didn't. He ended up with us. He let us know that there would come a time that if a trade was a possibility, that's where he'd like to be."

Dietrich checked in with Self before the deadline, and the veteran reported that nothing had changed. Self loved playing in Buffalo, but Colorado was still an option down the road. The veteran was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 1, meaning the Bandits could lose him without receiving any compensation.

That made a trade at least a possibility in the general manager's mind.

"I thought, we can kill two birds with one stone," Dietrich said. "We can help Brad out, help ourselves out, and get Blaze Riorden back in the lineup as well."

Colorado was interested in Self, but didn't have a spare draft choice that it was willing to move. Dietrich then had to go to a third team, Calgary, to make it come together.

"I had talked to Calgary, and they had interest in Brad as well," he said. "But Calgary was looking for a defenseman, and Colorado had one in Creighton Reid that Calgary wanted. We had a lot of dialogue in the last hour, but I think it worked out well."

Just before 3 o'clock, Self went to Colorado for Reid and a fourth-round pick in 2019, and then Reid immediately was off to Calgary for a second-rounder in 2017 and a fourth-round choice in 2019.

The danger in a trade like that is that the Bandits took a good player off their roster, and didn't get any immediate help in return. Dietrich believes the earlier acquisition of Pat Saunders and the development of some young players like Riorden meant he had some room to maneuver.

"I always like having draft picks," he said. "People are frustrated over a pick that's two or three years out, but nobody trades first-round picks any more. Second-round picks are the currency when you talk trades. Now we have two in every draft that's coming up. We have extra currency when we want to do something. That's how we got Pat Saunders.

"Players of a high caliber are available when you make trades when you have an extra second-round pick. You also can have extra darts to throw at the draft. The more darts you have, the better your chances are of hitting something."

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Saskatchewan Rush coach Derek Keenan had to think about the question for a moment. Was it a bigger thrill to select his son, Ryan, first overall in last fall's NLL Entry Draft, or to coach him in his first NLL game?

Keenan went with the latter.

"It was pretty exciting when he had his first game," the former Bandits' player said. "He scored a goal early to get that out of the way. Playing at this level is something that's been a dream of his for his whole life."

Ryan Keenan has five goals and 14 assists for 19 points in his rookie season. Not many rookies are instant stars, and the first-year player is no exception.

"It's a different level of play," the proud father said. "He's struggling a bit to score, which is frustrating for him, but that will come. At every level, he's taken a little bit of time to get to the highest level. But he's been good."

It's not easy for a rookie to make an impact in a lineup that has won two straight championships. Even veteran Adam Jones, the former Canisius College standout, has been forced to adjust his game a bit after coming over from Colorado in the offseason.

"It's been a big learning curve for him," Derek Keenan said. "It's a different style of offense for him, but he's working hard and getting better at it. It's just a matter of time before he has a big breakout game. He's such a talented player."

Jones came into Saturday's game against the Bandits with 35 points in 11 games.

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