Buffalo Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich looked mighty smart only a day after acquiring transition player Brad Self from the Rochester Knighthawks last week.
Dietrich sent a second-round draft pick to Rochester in exchange for Self during the National Lacrosse League draft on Sept. 26. The next day, Self was named the league's transition player of the year and a first-team All-NLL selection.
"That worked out well for us," Dietrich said. "It was something that we wanted to do. We put plans in place over the summer to move Mitch Jones to the front door. We wanted to replace his speed and athleticism out the back door.
"We didn't think we'd be able to do it in the draft because of where we were sitting. Brad, the winner of the transition player of the year, was a perfect piece for us. We were glad to get him."
With that move completed, the Bandits' roster looks relatively set at this point with the possible exception of some free-agent signings entering training camp. The Self acquisition was set in motion by a couple of departures from the Bandits' 2016 roster. Both faceoff specialist Jay Thorimbert and forward Chad Culp left Buffalo as unrestricted free agents to sign with the New England Black Wolves.
"It's always tough to let guys go, especially Chad and Jay - two tremendous guys who did a lot for this organization," Dietrich said. "It was hard, but we live in a salary-cap world. When you have a good year, people deserve more money, and rightfully so. We didn't have the finances to make it work.
"We've signed Mark Cockerton, we've signed Dean Hill, we have Tyler Ferreira. Daryl Veltman is still there, and we drafted two lefty forwards. Then we have Timmy Edwards, whom we drafted in the fourth round last year. ... We hope he can take the next step."
Thorimbert's departure means that the Bandits need a new man for faceoffs. Thorimbert took 500 of them last season, while Nick Weiss was second on the team with 33.
"Weiss can do it," Dietrich said. "He's done it for Peterborough" in the summer league "and he's good at it. Timmy" Edwards 'is very good at it. Tim doesn't have a lot of indoor box experience, but he played this summer and was very good. We hope he can continue to develop."
The Bandits didn't have a first-round pick in the draft this year, which almost has been the norm in recent years. Dietrich said he looked into some possible trades to get into the first round, but backed off.
"There were some talks and it was awfully expensive," he said. "Since I got here, at least after the Ryan Benesch trade, we've done everything we could to acquire picks. Next year we'll have a one and two twos. The year after that, we'll have two ones and a two. So we're starting to accumulate the picks we want. If we are ever going to do something, we won't hurt ourselves in the future in order to do it."
It's been a good 2016 for Dietrich. After the Bandits reached the NLL finals in June, Dietrich was the general manager of a Six Nations team in Canada's top summer box lacrosse league. That team won the Mann Cup, which goes to the nation's Senior A championship team.
Rich Kilgour was the head coach of that team, with John Tavares serving as an assistant coach. Both are assistant coaches with the Bandits. The Chiefs had players from several NLL teams, including some Bandits and several top veterans from Rochester.
"You really get to see what these Rochester guys are all about," Dietrich said. "You get to be with Cody Jamieson, Sid Smith - people like that. You realize why Rochester is as successful as they are. It's good for our guys like" Dhane Smith, Ryan Benesch and David Brock "to sit in the room, learn a bit, and take it back to our room and push it through."
Dietrich gets to rest a little bit now, since the Bandits won't open training camp until late November or so. He's not excited about the idea of a vacation.
"That's the thing that's disappointing," he said. "You do this and the draft, and you sit around until training camp. I'm looking forward to camp. I think we've made our team better. We haven't added a lot, but we're not old so the young guys will be a year better.
"Saskatchewan didn't make it easier on anybody, drafting first and third, and getting Adam Jones. Everyone in the East is getting better. It's not going to be a piece of cake. We're in for a dogfight and everybody knows it."