Tuesday's National Lacrosse League draft gave the Buffalo Bandits a rare chance to acquire both potential and experience, and they took full advantage.
The Bandits turned their first-round pick into two seasoned veterans thanks to a trio of deals, then spent the rest of the afternoon drafting rookies who can run and score.
"I think it's time things had to change," rookie head coach Ted Sawicki said. "Hopefully we got what we wanted, a team that will get the fans on their feet. We looked for guys who are mature and will complement J.T. (career scoring leader John Tavares), give (goaltender Matt) Disher some help, get up and down the floor and play defense. I think we went a long way toward that goal."
The Bandits' moves before they drafted anybody at Marine Midland Arena were mind-boggling.
Buffalo, 4-8 and out of the playoffs last season, came into the draft with the sixth overall pick. First, the Bandits moved up to No. 2 when they sent their pick, along with forwards Steve Fannell and John Rosa, to the expansion Albany Attack. Buffalo then sent the No. 2 pick to the New York Saints for third-year forward Chris Prat and the Saints' first pick, No. 4 overall.
Next, the Bandits sent the No. 4 overall pick to the defending champion Toronto Rock for third-year forward Shawn Williams and Toronto's second-round pick.
"Chris Prat gives us a lot at both ends of the floor," general manager Kurt Silcott said. "He's one of the top players in the game and we were actually very surprised we were able to get him."
Prat spent his first two NLL seasons with the Syracuse Smash, where he had 32 goals and 79 points in 20 games. He was traded from Syracuse to New York on Sept. 1 for Mark Millon, a four-time league all-star.
"When we found out we could put some things together and get a guy with that much talent and that much ability, and a proven talent, not a guy that's gonna have to develop, we thought it was a no-brainer," Silcott said. "We jumped all over it."
Prat, a 29-year-old who is 5-foot-8 and 195 pounds, spent his summer helping the Victoria Shamrocks win the Mann Cup in British Columbia. He had 36 goals and 66 points, good enough to tie for seventh in the Western Lacrosse Association scoring race.
Williams, a 5-11, 202-pounder, had an even better summer. The 25-year-old led the Ontario Lacrosse Association's Major Division in scoring with 41 goals and 90 points for the Brooklin Redmen. In two NLL seasons with Toronto, he had 20 goals and 52 points in 23 games.
"Shawn Williams offers us another left-hander who can score," Silcott said. "He's a big guy who can play defense, get up and down the floor, and play physically."
Big deals were the order of the day. Albany traded the top overall pick to Rochester for a pair of former Bandits -- Darris Kilgour and Ted Dowling. The Knighthawks took John Grant Jr., a Canadian who was the Most Outstanding Player in Division I of the NCAA at Delaware.
Kilgour, a Niagara-Wheatfield product, spent almost eight full seasons with Buffalo before being dealt last March. He contemplated retirement because of an arthritic hip, but told Albany coach Terry Sanderson he'll play.
The Bandits took 12 forwards in rounds two through nine, most of them big scorers. Todd Richard had 41 goals and 60 points for the University of Hartford and Pat Maddalena had 41 goals and 84 points for the Burlington (Ont.) Chiefs in Junior A.
Buffalo had three picks in the third round who averaged 27 goals and 64 points -- Trent Hill of Six Nations (Ont.), Adam Pascal from Middlebury (Conn.) and Steve Evans of Peterborough (Ont.).