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Riptide acquire Clark as part of NLL Trade Deadline flurry

Philladelphia Wings Philladelphia Wings - NLL/Philadelphia Wings

The future of the Philadelphia Wings could look a lot brighter if their newly acquired draft picks pan out.

Shortly before the 3 p.m. ET NLL Trade Deadline, the Wings traded Taggart Clark and a second-round selection in the 2024 Entry Draft to the New York Riptide in exchange for a first-round selection in the 2024 Entry Draft and a third-round selection in the 2025 Entry Draft.

That 2024 first-round pick was the lynch-pin of this deal. That pick was originally acquired from the Colorado Mammoth, so, depending on where the Mammoth finish at the end of this 2023-24 season will determine what first round pick the Wings get in the 2024 NLL Entry Draft.

As it currently stands, the Mammoth have the second-worst record in the league and are only a half-game ahead of the last-place Vancouver Warriors. If the season ended today, the Wings would have the second overall pick in this year’s draft.

Wings GM and Head Coach Paul Day feels very good about obtaining that potentially high draft pick.

“When he [GM Lisk] came to me and brought up the first-round pick (which is Colorado’s) it was pretty hard to turn down because we know how important those top guys in the draft are,” Day said. “We have depth at that [Taggart’s] position, plus we have Dalton Young, who’s playing at the University of Richmond right now who is another strong righty coming out, so we do have a lot of depth there.”

Riptide GM Rich Lisk took a gamble on that first-round pick, knowing that, with five games left to play for the Mammoth this season, they could end up much higher in this year’s standings, giving that pick less value – it is still a first-round pick, though, no matter how you slice it. However, it was important for Lisk to take that risk because he wanted to bolster the Riptide’s right side for the future, joining the likes of Austin Madronic, Connor Kearnan, and Colton Lidstone.

“We identified that we wanted to do something on our right side,” Lisk said. “We’re set up on the left side; we needed some help on the right side. So, we held this pick in the draft (we don’t know where it’s going to be; the season’s not over yet – it could be at the top or it could be at the bottom). We were going to use that pick to get a righty. So, I was out looking for righties in the trade deadline area looking for righties, and I needed a younger righty, too.”

Like Kearnan, Madronic, and Lidstone, Clark is now a younger piece of this blossoming youthful offense. Clark, Lidstone, and Madroinc are 24 years old, and Kearnan is still just 27. As the team finishes its final few games on Long Island and moves up to Ottawa for next season, Lisk hopes that his young core can grow together and become one of the league’s top offenses.

With that in mind, it’s also beneficial for the team’s chemistry that they have many guys on the roster who are from or live in Southern Ontario, including Clark, whose family lives in Stouffville, Ontario, about a four-hour drive southwest of Ottawa. The team also holds practices in Brampton, Ontario on Wednesday evenings, less than an hour’s drive from the Clark family’s residence. Clark has lived in market in Philadelphia for the Wings this season.

“I want them to grow up with our guys: the Teat’s, and the Sundown’s, the Reilly’s, and the Kearnans, Madronics and the Lidstones,”  Lisk said. “I want them to grow up together, and then I’ve got my older guys.”

Clark has been a prize that Lisk has been trying to snag for quite some time now. Since Clark was drafted nearly two years ago, Lisk has been trying to find a way to get him on his club. In this, his rookie season, Clark has shown signs of promise. He has seven goals and five assists in seven games this year, and he even recorded a hat trick in early January against the same Riptide team he is now set to join.

“Taggart is someone that we liked when he was drafted,” GM Lisk said. “He checks all the boxes. He’s a lacrosse guy that plays in the summers, he’s dedicated to his craft, he’s big, he’s shown well this year in the NLL – he would work well in our offense. So, let’s identify him. I’d say I’ve been trying to get him for a good year.”

From Day’s perspective, while this deal may have never happened had that first-round pick not been put on the table, there are many pieces that are already on the Wings roster that give them confidence that they’ll fair okay without Clark. They’ve got 26-year-old forward Jack Jasinski on the team – Jasinski is best known for his overtime-winning goal against the Halifax Thunderbirds this season. They also have other pieces on the come-up that they have confidence in.

Day knows that his team’s record is not indicative of what they are capable of, and that is with or without Clark. There has been so much parity in the league this year, and the Wings have been part of so many close games that this team was very close to being in a completely different position at the deadline.

“We’re three goals away from being 7-4, and we’re 4-7,” Day said. We’re still in control of who we play here in the future and the teams we have to compete with for a playoff spot. We think that we’re trending in the right direction and can compete for a playoff spot. This trade has not changed that.”

This trade will be making waves far beyond this year’s trade deadline. Clark is still in the earliest stages of finding his pro box legs, and we won’t know who the two Wings draft picks will be until the middle of the 2025 NLL Entry Draft.

What we do know is that each GM hopes their newly acquired pieces will help each of their sides for many years to come.

The San Diego Seals were able to give their offense even more depth at the trade deadline.

In the final hours of the 2024 NLL Trade Deadline, the Seals traded a conditional third-round selection in the 2025 Entry Draft to the Colorado Mammoth for Chris Wardle. Wardle has been with the Mammoth since the 2016 season and now adds another option to the already potent San Diego offense.

Wardle joins a stacked Seals attack that includes Wes Berg, Austin Staats, Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie, Kyle Jackson, Jake Govett, Tre Leclaire, Ben Stewart, and Jacob Dunbar – and those are just the guys available to them right now.

The long-time Mammoth forward nearly amassed 300 points with his old team during regular season play, including over 100 goals. But, it was far more than just Wardle’s scoring ability and facilitating that made Seals GM and Head Coach Patrick Merrill want to acquire the 31-year-old former NLL champion.

“Chris is a guy we’ve touted over the last couple of years in free agency, but we weren’t able to land him,” Merrill said. “His style of play, I think, would be valuable to any team. He doesn’t need the ball in his stick – he’s a really good off-ball player. He’s really good on the power play. He does a lot of things that help an offense. We’re really excited, and we think he’s going to mesh well with the guys on that left side.”

The Seals entered trade deadline day with the league’s 3rd-best record at 9-4. Yet, with five games left to play during the regular season and a few games in the postseason (they hope), the Seals wanted to make sure they had numerous options on each side of the ball.

Case and point: Curtis Dickson has missed the Seals’ last two games due to a lingering injury, and they slotted the young, up-and-coming Jacob Dunbar in on the left side. Dunbar has scored multiple goals in back-to-back games and has proven that he can be a force to reckon with when called upon. Adding a player with as much experience and ability as Wardle gives the Seals another option to move pieces around if needed.

Adding too many pieces to one position can be a risk, though, especially if it disrupts a team’s flow. Merrill addressed the fact that his team was adding another lefty into the fold. For context, between the guys on the Active Roster, the Injured Reserve List, the Practice Roster, and the Draft List, the Seals have ten lefty forwards to work with.

“It’s a balancing act, and it’s definitely something that you have to consider when you make a deal,” Merrill said. “We definitely thought it was important to keep the guys that we had and add to the group. We didn’t want anyone out. I feel like everyone has been playing really well – Jake Govett, Jacob Dunbar to our veteran offense.”

For the Mammoth, their season has gone in the opposite direction of the Seals. The Mammoth came into traded deadline day, having lost two consecutive games and five of their last six. Sitting at 4-9 and with the league’s second-worst record (they are only a half-game ahead of the Vancouver Warriors for the league’s worst record), Mammoth GM Brad Self felt he needed to act.

That conditional third-round pick gives them a potential opportunity to draft a player in the middle of the 2025 NLL Entry Draft that could pay dividends for a long time. They have reason to feel confident that they’ll be able to pick up a nice prize in next year’s draft because Wardle was a sixth-round pick.

“We would’ve preferred to be in a different position,” Self said. “Unfortunately, that Sask [Saskatchewan Rush] loss was tough, and Toronto, too. Those put us at the bottom of the standings, so, unfortunately, the business side of things kicks in when you’re 4-9. We’re not mathematically out of it, and by no means are we going to play that way, but we felt like we had to entertain offers for guys.”

This trade was one of two deals that the Mammoth made on deadline day. This day forced the Mammoth to embrace the building of their future while trying to disrupt their present as little as possible.

The Buffalo Bandits have desperately needed defensive help over the last few months. They believe they found a piece at the deadline that can help solve some of their issues on the back end.

As the clock was running out on the 2024 NLL Trade Deadline, the Colorado Mammoth traded Paul Dawson and a third-round selection in the 2024 Entry Draft to the Buffalo Bandits in exchange for a second-round selection in the 2024 Entry Draft and a second-round selection in the 2025 Entry Draft.

Paul Dawson is a two-time NLL champion who has spent 17 seasons in the league. For six of those seasons (from 2013 to 2018), Dawson played alongside Matt Vinc for the original Rochester Knighthawks. In 2013 and 2014, the two helped the Knighthawks to NLL titles. Current Mammoth GM Brad Self, who helped make this deal happen, was also part of those teams – Self-played for the original Knighthawks from 2012 to 2016.

Dawson is very excited to join a true contender that has proven to be arguably the best team in the NLL over the last handful of seasons. He is hopeful that he, Vinc, and the rest of the Bandits squad can do something special like the Bandits did last year, and like Dawson, Vinc, and the Knighthawks did a decade ago.

“They have been there the last two years and kind of been there as one of the better teams in the league since 2019 or even earlier than that,” Dawson said. “They have one of the best offenses that has probably ever been in this league, and, obviously, with Vno [Vinc] in net as the greatest of all-time, you’ll always have a shot. It’ll be exciting to team up with him again and hopefully regain that chemistry that we had back in Roch [Rochester].”

This was a difficult trade for Self to make. He has so much respect for Dawson and the way he plays the game. He also credits Dawson for plenty of the Mammoth’s success on the penalty kill this season – the Mammoth have a league-best penalty kill percentage of 69%.

Yet, knowing that his team was in second-to-last place in the standings coming into the deadline, Self felt he needed to act. He got those two second-round picks in exchange for the 38-year-old Dawson, and he feels confident that the Mammoth can eventually draft two quality guys in those spots.

“Getting assets back is huge,” GM Self said. “It doesn’t guarantee anything. But, whether it’s picks or any trades in the future to get players, we just feel like that’s important, really important. We’ll do our part as far as drafting and scouting goes – we’ve got a really good staff. Obviously, the more picks you have, the more chances you get to hit the big one.”

From the Bandits’ perspective, they were not wedded to those two future second-round picks. In this fall’s upcoming draft, the Bandits have three first-round picks and another second-round pick. Their focus was fixing their defensive issues, which, in large part, have been created due to a bevy of injuries on that side of the ball.

The Bandits have allowed 13 or more goals in eight consecutive games. This is the longest streak they have had of that kind since the 2001 season. They are 6-6 in part because of those struggles.

Bandits GM Steve Dietrich thinks that Dawson is precisely the guy his team needs to add the poise, size, and experience the team is currently missing (outside of players like Steve Priolo) to end that streak and heal their defensive woes.

“We’re excited for what we’re seeing,” Dietrich said. “Although the results may not look great, and we’re still making mistakes, these guys are learning under fire. Our last-minute defense the other night [against Saskatchewan], we had three guys out there that we probably didn’t even have penciled into our opening lineup. We really like what we’re starting to see, but the results are going to have to come, and we do need to keep the ball out of our net, but the guys are starting to get better, that’s for sure.”

“Paul is a big veteran presence who is a winner – he’s won in this league and Mann Cups,” Dietrich added. “So, to be able to bring him in and add him to our leadership group and just be a steadying influence on the floor, it’s exciting.”

This Bandits season has been one that Buffalo fans are unfamiliar with. The last time the Bandits lost six games in a season was back in the 2017-18 campaign – this was a year that they missed the playoffs with an 8-10 record. The hope is that Dawson can provide the spark this team needs to get back on track and turn back into the NLL Cup contender Buffalo Bandits.