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Bandits lose pair in expansion draft, acquire promising defenseman

The Buffalo Bandits were one of the bigger players in Monday afternoon's NLL expansion draft, making two trades in addition to losing their mandated two players.

The Philadelphia Wings selected a pair of Bandits in the draft, snagging forward Vaughn Harris in the eighth round and goalie Davide DiRuscio in the ninth and final round.

Buffalo made an additional move with each expansion squad, sending defenseman Zac Reid to Philadelphia as an incentive to take Harris and acquiring Bryce Sweeting from San Diego minutes after the Seals selected the former Colorado Mammoth defenseman in the fifth round of the expansion draft. Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich sent defenseman Ethan Schott and a 2018 second-round pick to San Diego in return.

Harris, acquired a day before last season's opener from Calgary for a fifth-round pick, showed tremendous versatility in his first and only season with the Bandits. He took faceoffs and played on both ends of the floor, accumulating 18 goals, 32 points and 105 loose balls.

Dietrich said the Bandits sent Reid to the Wings in order to steer Philadelphia away from athletic forward Chase Fraser, a second-round pick in last year's draft. Fraser notched 14 points in nine games. Reid had five points and 45 ground balls in 17 games.

"It's not that we wanted them to take Vaughn," Dietrich said. "It's that we didn't want them to take Chase. ... We felt very strongly about last year's entry draft and still feel very strongly about it."

DiRuscio missed most of the season with a hamstring injury suffered on Dec. 23 against the Rochester Knighthawks. He only got 31 seconds of action this year, giving up one goal. The Oakville, Ont., native has spent the past four seasons as Buffalo's backup, first behind Anthony Cosmo and then behind Alex Buque.

"Davide is still a young goaltender," said Paul Day, the Wings' general manager and head coach. "I've seen him quite a bit in the summertime. He's a big body. Sometimes you say you can't teach size, you can't teach speed. He's a big guy that fills the net and I think he's got great upside moving forward."

The Bandits were expected to lose a goaltender, as Dietrich opted to leave all three on the roster unprotected. Buffalo will go into the season with a goalie duo of Buque and Zach Higgins barring a trade.

"Davide was the goalie they wanted," Dietrich said. "It's painful to lose any of them (the goalies) because it's always nice to have depth at that position, but we were fine with whichever two were coming back. Dave is one of the best kids you'll ever meet. It's satisfying that he's going to a great organization ... and getting a chance to be a No. 1 goaltender."

Dietrich was thrilled to land Sweeting, a 24-year-old lefty defenseman who has spent all three of his years in the NLL in Colorado. The Peterborough, Ont., native recorded five points and 39 ground balls last season.

"Honestly, I'm doing backflips," Dietrich said. "We've been trying to get Bryce Sweeting for probably a year and a half. The kid, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NLL. Big, physical, stay-at-home lefty defender, which is probably an area of need for us. ... I think the sky's the limit for Bryce Sweeting."

Schott, who joins a promising defensive core in San Diego, was a second-round pick of the Bandits in last year's draft. He totaled three points and 35 ground balls in nine games.

The Wings and Seals each selected nine players, with each of the existing nine franchises losing two players each. Philadelphia took Toronto forward Brett Hickey with the first overall pick, while San Diego selected fellow Rock forward Turner Evans with its first pick. Former Silver Creek standout Frank Brown, who split his rookie season between the Georgia Swarm and Rochester, was selected by the Wings in the fifth round.

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