(TORONTO) – The Georgia Swarm multi-tasked during the 2017 NLL Draft by simultaneously adding more players to the defensive end while acquiring future draft picks through trades. Georgia selected defenseman/transition player Zed Williams (No. 4 overall, University of Virginia) before trading their next five picks, two of them first-round picks.
“We accomplished what we wanted to tonight,” Swarm Owner and General Manager John Arlotta said. “We have a strong roster already, but we have some players that were on the practice squad last year that we know well, and we think they can come in and compete for open positions. We’re really excited about the guys that we did get.”
Williams, listed at 6-foot-2 and 185-pounds, is no stranger to Swarm players. He spent the summer on the MLL’s Rochester Rattlers alongside Swarm captain Jordan MacIntosh, John Ranagan, and Joel White before winning the Presidents Cup with NLL 2017 MVPLyle Thompson and the Native Sons (CanAm) in the Senior B Canadian Lacrosse League.
The Irving, N.Y., native finished his collegiate career having played in 58 games. Williams moved to attack in his senior season with the Cavaliers and took off, being named All-American (HM) by both USILA and Inside Lacrosse. Over his career, Williams recorded 131 points (75G, 56A) while posting a .268 SPCT, scooping up 162 ground balls, and causing 27 turnovers.
“We really looked at trying to get some players that can bring versatility,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. “Zed is a guy who scores goals but can also play out the backdoor and on faceoff. We really like the versatility that he can bring, a guy that we think can step in and compete for a roster spot right off the bat.”
“We’re really excited to be able to pick up Zed Williams,” Arlotta said. “He’s a tremendous athlete, and we see him playing out the backdoor and being a great transition player for the Swarm. He fits perfect with our approach to have athletic players with high character.”
The NLL Champions made three trades after picking Williams. Georgia traded the No. 7 overall selection to the New England Black Wolves for their 1st-round pick in the 2020 NLL Draft; the Nos. 9 & 21 overall selections to the Calgary Roughnecks in exchange for a 1st-round pick in the 2019 NLL Draft; the No. 15 overall pick to the Toronto Rock for a 2nd-round pick in the 2020 NLL Draft; and finally, the No. 20 overall selection to the Buffalo Bandits for a 2nd-round pick in the 2018 NLL Draft.
Done with their last-minute trades, Georgia went on to select 6-foot-3, 215-pound defenseman/transition player Frank Brown (No. 24 overall, Hobart College). The Red House, N.Y., native helped Lyle and Williams win the Presidents Cup this summer. At the collegiate level, Brown finished his college career with 120 points (81G, 39A) and a .264 SPCT.
Georgia started the night with 12 selections, but the earlier trades and grabs of Williams and Brown left the team with five more selections. The Swarm stuck with improving the defense with big, athletic players, signing goaltender Mason Jones (No. 32 overall, Seneca WarChiefs), forward Nik Farrus (No. 42 overall, Orangeville Northmen Jr. B), defenseman/transition player Bennett Drake (No. 47, University of Albany), defenseman/transition player Isaiah Davis-Allen (No. 50 overall, University of Maryland), and defenseman/transition player Adam Osika (No. 59 overall, University of Albany).
With the focus on deepening the backend through the draft and earlier free agent acquisitions, the Swarm have certainly laid the grounds for a competitive training camp in November.
“Complacency is evil in sports, and we can’t rely on what we did last year,” Comeau said. “No one cares that we won last year, and we have to build upon what we did, starting out with a really good, competitive training camp with our draft picks, with our returning guys and knowing how hard it is to be successful in this league. So that’s our focus, and we really think these young guys we brought in are going to really elevate the competitive level of camp.”
Draft night was special for assistant coach Dan Ladouceur as the Swarm selected his nephew Bennett Drake of the University of Albany No. 47 overall. As a kid, Drake watched his uncle win championships with the Toronto Rock for years, remarking how he looked up to him and could not be happier with how everything turned out tonight.
“I’m happy that we have a chance to look at him in our camp,” Ladouceur said. “We know he’s got a versatile game and can play out the backdoor and help out in the faceoff circle as well put the ball in the net. Hoping to come into camp, put in some work and be ready for next year and the years beyond.”
The Georgia Swarm begins to defend its championship status on the road on Dec. 8 against the New England Black Wolves at 7:30 p.m. ET. The boys in blue and yellow first game at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena will take place on Dec. 30 against the Rochester Knighthawks. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. The Swarm will have a banner raising ceremony that evening to celebrate their first-ever Champion’s Cup title.
Fans can snatch up their Season Tickets to see the World Champions in 2018! With the purchase of four (4) Season Tickets, fans can receive a replica Swarm Championship Ring. Season Ticket packages include 10 games and a handful of VIP benefits. Call 844-4-GASWARM to purchase your tickets and help the Swarm “Defend the Cup!”