New England Black Wolves’ GM Rich Lisk always looks forward to Draft Night. Recently, he took a few minutes to outline his approach for Tuesday night, when the 2018 NLL Entry Draft will be held in Philadelphia.
Obviously this draft is a little different. We don’t have a first round pick, as opposed to last year when we had three. How is your preparation different?
“We knew, based on what we have done in the past that we were going to be light on picks in this draft. That is why we concentrated on getting most of our guys through the expansion draft, which we were happy we did, getting our guys signed to multi-year deals (which we have done) and focusing on free agency. I think we filled our holes this year through free agency. With losing Dylan Evans and Anthony Joaquim, we were able to replace them with Greg Downing and Andrew Suitor. With the trade of Kyle Buchanan, we were able to acquire Tyler Digby and by adding back JP Kealy we were able to address our left side. So we are very happy with our offseason and now going into this we are looking to add depth. With that being said, we are always looking to make this team better and if the right opportunity comes up we will explore it. But I feel we are in a great position team-wise, and I am very happy with how we look going into this draft.”
What does draft prep look like for the team?
“We spent the off season watching games, talking to players, watching tape and going to the combines. We have an extensive scouting department, both Canadian and American, to help us look for the best and right talent for the Black Wolves. We then take all that information and assess our needs. Then we do our own mock draft and try and predict where everyone will fall and that helps us handicap our picks and who we think we can get. We don’t necessarily look for the best player on the board we are looking for the best player to help our needs and what we think we need for the future.”
Can you talk a little bit about the combines that you have attended?
“They have been great and I think this is an excellent thing the NLL is doing. We are a growing league and with a growing league we need a player pool. The NLL understands and recognizes that and they staged three or four more combines this year than in the past. This is how we are going to find players. We have had representation at three of the four (the fourth we watched via video) and there are good players out there who can play in the NLL. One example of how this has worked for us is James Fahey. We went to the Philadelphia combine and we watched, coached, and talked to James. We feel there is great potential in James and signed him this week. If we didn’t have that combine we might not have had the opportunity to see James. That is a great example of the combines working. I can’t wait to get James in camp and see how he does with our guys.”
Are there specific things you are looking for in this year’s draft?
“Like I said, right now we are picking 26 so we would be looking for depth guys to help us fill some needs. With expansion coming again next year this draft will help us prepare for the future.”
Can you talk about what the draft night is like from a general manager’s perspective?
“It is exciting and a little nerve racking to be honest. You go in with a plan and you hope the chips fall right for you, but the wild card is the other teams and what they do. Last year everything went right to plan and that draft was great for us with three of the four draft picks back with us this year. But some other times, the guys you want are off the board and you have to go to Plan B. So we have a few scenarios going in and we need to be very fluid. We usually meet around four p.m., and go over our lists one more time, then we get to the draft around five p.m. and I start talking to the other GMs face to face. I check in with all of them all day to see if things are changing or what is going on. Then we sit down and start preparing. When the clock strikes seven p.m., we are ready to go. I love draft day not just from a team standpoint but from the player’s standpoint because this is exciting for them and their families. It is a HUGE day for these young lacrosse players. They worked their whole live for this and when they are picked they have been drafted into the best lacrosse league in the world. I love seeing that look in their eyes and giving them that hat is very special. This is my favorite day of the season.”