Let’s take a look back at the Swarm’s Sept. 16-20, because quite frankly, there hasn’t been a bigger week this offseason for the team.
On Monday, the Swarm were still preparing for the upcoming 2019 NLL Entry Draft. The team’s biggest needs heading into it were left-handed forwards and to shore up the defense.
Georgia had already returned goalies Mike Poulin and Kevin Orleman, re-signed Miles Thompson and Zed Williams to the right side, brought back transition player Joel White in a big surprise pickup, and added Sergio Perkovic on a one-year deal. Lefty LeRoy Halftown out of NYIT also returned, but the Swarm’s left-handed offensive weapons consisted of just him and Shayne Jackson.
The Swarm once again had double digits in draft picks and could stock up on young talent to add to their defensive core, but according to numerous industry experts, the 2019 Entry Draft did not have a particularly strong crop of ready-to-play lefty forwards.
Tuesday rolled around, and the Swarm wouldn’t wait for the Entry Draft to start to begin making moves. The team traded its No. 28 overall selection in that night’s draft to the San Diego Seals for left-handed forward Zach Miller.
Miller went down injured in his first NLL game, against the Colorado Mammoth in the Seals’ 2018-19 Season Opener. He remained on the Injured List all season.
Prior to the NLL, Miller was a phenom at the University of Denver, playing with the men’s college team for three years, winning an NCAA Division I national championship in 2015, being nominated for the Tewaaraton Award twice, and finishing as a three-time All American. In 58 games, he had 168 points (91G, 77A).
Returning from injury, the Swarm can slot him right in to the left side. A dangerous and creative Swarm offense featuring four Native players just on the right side might have found their complement on the inverse side.
Draft night comes around, and with 10 picks, the Swarm would proceed how they have operated over the last few drafts – focus on defense and restock for future drafts. Four middle-round picks were traded for future considerations.
In the first round, the Swarm used the No. 11 and 13 overall picks to grab Kason Tarbell (Cornell University, Six Nations Chiefs) and Ryan MacSpadyen (Mercy University and Brooklin LC).
The picks echo of the Swarm’s first round in the 2018 NLL Entry Draft, when the team picked up Brendan Bomberry and Adam Wiedemann. The Swarm picked up smart players, one who’s a strong defender and the other an experienced transition weapon.
The Swarm’s four other draft picks – TJ Comizio, Gunnar Schimoler, Jordan Gillis, and Mikey Herring – all figure to compete for the final spots in the Swarm’s defense and will come to training camp looking to prove they should wear blue and yellow.
But even after Tuesday night, the Swarm still needed a lefty forward. Jackson, Miller, and Halftown can be good, but one player is coming back from injury and doesn’t have significant playing time in the NLL, and another has yet to play at the highest level.
Then Friday rolls around, and the Swarm made the biggest splash of their offseason.
Selected by the Philadelphia Wings in the 2018 NLL Expansion Draft, the Swarm brought 12-year NLL veteran Jordan Hall back for his third season in a Swarm uniform.
Hall helped the Swarm win their first-ever world championship in 2017, and he produced 112 points (34G, 78A) in 28 games for the team.
Add in the intangibles of bringing the veteran back for a 13th NLL season – how he leads by example and is a huge boost to the locker room culture – well, the Swarm somehow found a way to get even better and fill up their final hole in the roster in style.
There is still work to be done, and the final questions about who makes the Swarm team will have to be decided in training camp.
But over a business week, the Swarm went from a spot or two in the defensive end and a glaring weakness in their lefty offense to filled up and then some out the back door and what could be one of the stronger left sides in 2019.
Not bad for a week’s work.
Sting City Memberships for the 2019-20 Swarm season are on sale now. Fans can join the most exclusive lacrosse club in the South by visiting StingCity.com or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.