A controversy was sparked after this year’s NLL Entry Draft when Colorado Mammoth defenceman John Lintz questioned an eastern bias when it came to teams drafting Canadian players.
Lintz is a product for the St. Albert Miners Junior A program in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League that features teams from Alberta and Saskatchewan. Other NLL players that have come through that league include Adam Shute of the Saskatchewan Rush and Holden Cattoni of the Rochester Knighhawks.
Is there a bias towards eastern Canadian players? Let’s take a deeper look.
First of all, in this year’s draft, no players were taken from the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) until Bryce Shmermund of the St. Albert Miners was selected by the Vancouver Warriors in the third round, 36th overall.
We also have to examine the fact that some draft board had the Saskatchewan SWAT’s Keegan White going in the first or second round, and he was selected by the Saskatchewan Rush in the fifth round.
A breakdown of the draft shows that 42 players from Ontario were chosen, 25 from the United States, 16 from British Columbia and seven from the RMLL. You have to take into consideration that the BC Junior ‘A’ program has twice as many teams as the RMLL, which makes it proportional.
Looking at it from this angle, there is very much an Eastern bias even though there are a number of very good players from Saskatchewan and Alberta that could make NLL teams.
But there are a few reasons why this bias does exist.
Let’s start with visibility.
The Ontario Junior A programs have professionally streamed games and showcases that make players a lot more accessible to NLL and professional scouts. With only four teams in the RMLL, games are stream on occasion from the stands and there isn’t much opportunity to hold showcases for scouts. The biggest exposure for some of these players is in the World Junior Lacrosse Championships.
Finally, some may not agree, but the fact of the matter is that there is a higher level of competition in Ontario and even BC compared to Saskatchewan and Alberta. While there are some extremely good players in Saskatchewan and Alberta, they are facing less competition, so it makes it hard for scouts to compare. This is why you see players like Georgia Swarm draft pick Laine Hrushka move to Ontario from Saskatchewan, so he can face tougher teams and get more eyes on him.
Shawn Slaght has been a sports reporter across the Canadian prairies for over 10 years and has experience covering everything from junior hockey to World Cup skiing to all levels of lacrosse. He is the Saskatchewan correspondent for All Lacrosse All The Time.