The Buffalo Bandits had been eyeing forward Jordan Durston for a while before they acquired him hours before the National Lacrosse League Draft in September.
Buffalo General Manager Steve Dietrich said the Bandits had been inquiring about the young forward for a year before a trade was finally completed. After months of back and forth negotiation, he finally found a return the Stealth were happy with in the then-23-year-old forward Tony Malcom and a second-round pick.
That makes Saturday night a reunion. The two main cogs of the deal, Durston and Malcom, will face their former team for the first time when the Stealth play the Bandits at KeyBank Center at 7:30 p.m. (1520 AM).
"Me being new to the league, I haven't really done this before," Durston said. "I'm trying to treat it like any other game. ... I'm trying not to think about all the other stuff off the floor, just worrying about my job on the floor."
As is often the case with NLL trades, there was a geographic factor to the trade. While Malcom had moved to the Buffalo area to help the team's skills camp, the Bandits figured he'd eventually ask to play closer to his hometown of New Westminster, B.C. Durston, from Wallaceburg, Ont., spent his first year with the Stealth in the Vancouver area but made the long commute in year two.
The swap of assets made sense for the two sides. There's a good chance both the Bandits and the Stealth will look fondly upon the deal, as Durston and Malcom are both only in their third year in the league and have exemplified strong potential.
Durston scored five goals and eight assists in the Bandits' first four games, most recently notching three goals and two assists against Calgary. He's on pace to exceed his previous career high for points by 16 and is showing why Dietrich called him the complete package.
"The great thing about Jordan is that he's incredibly unselfish," Dietrich said. "He just does so many of the little things right. He's always in the middle for loose balls. He's a bulldozer out there. ... If he's given the opportunity, given the ball in the right spot like you saw on Saturday, he's got incredible stick skills."
He's started to get comfortable in an offense with multiple new parts and no longer has to deal with the travel, which he admitted wears on you as the season goes along.
Malcom has lower offensive totals this year, playing for a Stealth squad struggling to get scoring from anyone. He's fifth on the Stealth in points, totaling two goals and five assists.
"Tony was a guy we really didn't want to give up on," Dietrich said. "Tony might be one of the most athletically gifted lacrosse players in our league."
As a team, Vancouver is tied with Calgary for the fewest goals scored this season, 36. Corey Small and Rhys Duch, who finished first and second on the team in scoring last year, have combined for three goals this season.
Durston played with a majority of the Stealth offense but doesn't know exactly what's causing the diminished production for a team that finished middle of the pack in scoring last season. He does know the Bandits shouldn't rely on the funk to continue.
"It's the NLL and everyone's good," Durston said. "They're going to be hungry and looking for a win. ... There definitely going to come and kick it up a bit."