Rush Go Defence Heavy in This Year’s NLL Draft

Saskatchewan Rush general manager Derek Keenan made it no surprise before the 2021 NLL Entry Draft that he was looking for defensive and transition players, and he did just that.

With picks seven and eight in the first round, the Rush went with transition Jake Boudreau and left defenceman Ryan Barnable respectively.

Boudreau came as a shock to Keenan as he though he would have gone higher in the draft. Boudreau is a former Ontario Junior ‘A’ Transition Player of the Year and has 120 points in 91 games in his Junior ‘A’ career.

The Rush will have to wait on Boudreau as he is planning to finish up his final year with Robert Morris University at the NCAA level.

Barnable is a product of Whitby, Ont., which means he’s know stranger to Keenan. He’s proved he can play both ends of the floor, amassing 79 points in 58 games at the Junior ‘A’ level in Ontario. 

Like Boudreau, Barnable us expected to return for his final year in the NCAA with the RIT Tigers.

In the second round, 29th overall, the Rush went with transition player Mackenzie Burke from the Brampton Excelsiors.

Another player that slide down the draft board, Burke started out as a forward, but transitioned into a defenseman at the junior level and has also played goalkeeper in the field game at the NCAA level. So, obviously, Burke will be a lot a versatility to the roster.

Round three, 43rd overall, the Rush stuck a little bit closer to home by selecting Edmonton’s Ethan Forgave from the St. Albert Miners. Forgrave picked up Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League All-Star honours in 2019 and has excelled at both the Junior ‘A’ and Junior ‘B’ levels.

The Rush rounded out the third round with the 45th overall pick, where they took bruising defenceman Mason Kamminga of the St. Catharines Athletics. A face-off man, Kamminga had 144 penalty minutes in 83 games at the Junior ‘A’ level 

Rounds four, five and six had the Rush draft close to home by selection Saskatchewan SWAT Junior ‘A’ players Troy Gutowski, Keengan White and Jordin Tabin.

Gutowski, a product of Winnipeg, had 23 points in nine games with the SWAT and had a strong showing at the World Junior Lacrosse Championship with Team Canada West.

Saskatoon’s White came as a bit of a surprise becoming available in the fifth round. Some draft boards had him as high as the first or second rounds. White, a defenceman, played with Team Canada West at the 2018 World Junior Lacrosse Championships.

Tabin is another defenceman coming from the SWAT. The Rush could be waiting on this draft pick as well, since he is a running back for the Saskatoon Hilltops junior football club, so his future could be with football versus lacrosse.

Shawn Slaght
Shawn Slaght

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.