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Bandits get a jump on rebuilding by making deal with Swarm

The Buffalo Bandits started their rebuilding program after a disappointing 2013 season by completing a major trade with the Minnesota Swarm.

The Bandits on Monday announced they had acquired star forward Ryan Benesch and transition player Andrew Watt from the Swarm. In return, Minnesota will receive Buffalo’s first-round draft choices in 2015 and 2016 and a third-round pick in 2017.

“We were thrilled to be able to add Ryan and Andrew,” Bandits’ general maanger Steve Dietrich said. “I still believe that we are going to build this team through the draft, as we hold four of the top 20 picks in 2014, but adding both Ryan and Andrew helps fill two of our biggest areas of need for both now and the future.”

Benesch, 28, has been one of the league’s best scorers throughout his career, and is the all-time leading goal scorer in Minnesota’s franchise history. He had 34 goals and 50 assists for 84 points last season, tying him for seventh among league scorers. The former National Lacrosse League Rookie of the Year (2007) led the league in scoring with 95 points in 2011. He’s been in the league’s top 10 in scoring for the past three seasons.

“Ryan is a top-five scorer in the league who, at 28 years old, is entering the prime of his career,” Dietrich said. “He is one of the best left-handed offensive players in the game.”

Watt, 29, has spent all five of his NLL seasons in Minnesota. He had nine points in 12 games last season.

Both players are natives of Kitchener, Ont.

The trade means that Minnesota owns Buffalo’s first-round pick in the next four drafts, including this fall’s. The Bandits gave up first-rounders in the next two seasons in a trade for goalie Anthony Cosmo.