Previewing the 2010 MLL Draft: Denver Outlaws
With the collegiate draft less than a week away Denver fans, management and collegiate prospects are all wondering the same things: what will Denver do in this draft and will the picks help the Outlaws finally win it all? Currently sitting with the fifth overall pick and eight total picks in the draft, Denver will look to fill the gaps.
With no glaring holes, the Outlaws will look to add depth to the team. Head coach and general manager Brian Reese said the team needs to draft players who can fit in with the already tight knit group. Chemistry between teammates is one of the most important aspects as well as skill.
“I don’t feel pressure in the draft,” Reese said. “It’s exciting to be able to add new pieces for this year or for the future. We have a solid team in place so we don’t have a lot of pressure to pick one player.”
To understand the future it’s important to look back. In four years of existence the Denver Outlaws have reached the title game three times. Not a bad streak, except for the 0-3 record the team holds in the championship game. Each time the Outlaws watched as the opposition walked away with the hardware. The last lost opportunity was perhaps the most heart-breaking, a one goal loss to Toronto after leading by one with five minutes remaining. For season five the Outlaws look for an encore in the championship game but with a different outcome than their past three appearances.
One reason for Denver’s stellar success is making smart draft choices. Last season Denver was the most active team in the first round with three picks, numbers two, seven and eight. Max Seibald, Shane Walterhoefer and Dan Hardy all became Outlaws after playing for collegiate rivals and impacted Denver immediately.
“I think any time you pick in the first round, you want to get players who you can put in the lineup right away and make a difference,” Reese said. “Last year, our three first rounders played great for us and helped us reach the championship game.”
Dan Hardy, a two-time national champion with Syracuse, proved his collegiate success could carry into the pros. Hardy walked away with the 2009 Cascade Rookie of the Year Award. In ten games he posted 8 goals and 8 assists.
Max Seibald developed into a star early. Seibald was selected to the MLL All-Star game and contributed two goals, but fell with the Young Guns in a thrilling 21-22 OT loss to the Old School All-Stars. Seibald finished the season with nine goals on the season and continues to impress in year two. To date, Seibald already sits with 12 points which is one less than his entire total for his rookie season and continues to push Denver’s offense forward in search of its first title and the end of Outlaws championship disappointment.
“We have a great group of guys and a core of returning guys from last year,” Seibald said. “We have a bunch of other guys who have jumped in and hit the ground running.”
Denver’s core now consists of more experienced players and fresh faces. With 129 career goals Brendan Mundorf’s reputation as a scorer is unparalleled. Denver’s other perennial all-star Drew Westervelt has increased his goal total each season since joining the team in 2007 going from 20 to 24 to 27 respectively. Mundorf and Westervelt have been playing together since 2007 something Seibald says gives the two amazing chemistry.
Inside Denver’s draft room the man in control is Reese. However, selections are a collaborative effort as well as reactionary to other teams’ selections and moves. Still, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a game plan to follow.
“It can be good and bad,” Reese said. “I have a vision for what this team needs to be and I can be pretty focused on that. I do get input from my assistants on players in the draft and areas we need to improve on.”
So far that focus has been good for Reese as the Denver has made the playoffs every single season since they’ve come onto the MLL scene in 2006. The perennial playoff team will look to beef up their roster in the draft and move forward towards the elusive title.