New West waits, drafts late

Without a pick in the first two rounds to call his own, New Westminster Salmonbellies general manager Dan Richardson got to play spectator last Thursday as his counterparts plucked names at the Western Lacrosse Association's junior draft in Langley.

But when he did finally get to call a name, the 'Bellies GM was happy to find a player that could be a good fit -- although not for the near future.

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"We had our eye of a few players so when we got our pick we were pleased to get (Tanner) Poole," said Richardson of the 21st selection in the day.

"He's an eastern kid who caught our eye, and when you're looking to strike in the third round you are looking long term, not short term."

A lefthanded shot, Poole was a late addition to the New West junior lineup last summer. Over five games the six-foot-tall speedy forward sniped a goal and three assists. He added a goal during the team's nine-game playoff run.

With his hometown Barrie Lakeshores, Poole counted 17 goals and 97 points during a five-year run before coming west.

The first overall pick was Coquitlam junior Christian Del Bianco. The two-time Minto Cup MVP netminder was grabbed by his hometown team. With the second overall pick, Burnaby selected Team Canada field player and PoCo product Ryland Rees, Langley tagged Victoria sniper Brad McCulley at third overall, Maple Ridge reached over to the Island to take Shamrock star Marshal King, and Nanaimo completed a three-player run on Victoria products with the B.C. junior scoring champion Braylon Lumb at fifth overall. The first round was wrapped up with New West junior Keegan Bell to Victoria and Coquitlam defender Graydon Bradley to Burnaby, with a pick the Lakers acquired from New West in last week's Justin Salt trade.

Richardson said the expectation is that Poole will play in Ontario this coming summer and get plenty of opportunity to develop and build strength playing in the senior circuit. New West will be an option down the road.

"When you are picking at the end of the third round in a weak draft you have be gamble a bit. We see (Poole) as a solid prospect but who will benefit from playing regularly (in Ontario)."

Last fall Poole was also selected by Georgia in the National Lacrosse League draft, although did not make the team for this season.

New West didn't have picks in either the fourth or fifth rounds, and used their final two selections on defensive players. In the sixth round they grabbed Jake Richardson from Langley. A nephew of the GM, young Richardson played four years at Mount Olive University, while Scott Barker, taken with the 49th pick, was a defender with PoCo. Both are considered long shots but with some potential, said New West's GM.

"When you're getting to the sixth and seventh round it's a long shot," said Richardson. "Jake's a solid D-man and he had a good role in college, while Barker's also a defensive player who has some toughness. That's an area we're always looking to add to the lineup."

Both Luke Richardson and Barker will receive invites to camp and get a chance to make an impression on the coaching staff, with the usual handful of starters expected to take a break at the end of the NLL season before showing up for a WLA game.

Although the draft is done, the team has done a lot of its heavy lifting already, Richardson said, with the acquisition of Salt last week, in a swap that cost them their top two draft picks, and signing Keegan Bal. Both are members of the NLL's Vancouver Warriors, of whom Richardson serves as the GM.

"We got most of our work done before the draft," he said. "We still have some irons in the fire and we will continue to shake the tree for eastern recruits to see if anything falls out. We have done some preliminary work in that but there are a lot of teams with irons in the fire."

The team is also looking to Alberta for available and interested talent. Until something's on paper, however, Richardson preferred to keep his cards close to his vest.

New West will likely open camp in early May, with the team's season opening game slated for May 23 with Langley coming to Queen's Park Arena.

 

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