The Club with the first overall draft pick in the 2021 Tier 1 Draft also made a trade to acquire the second overall pick. As did the St. Albert Miners in the Jr A draft, the Sherwood Park Outlaws selected Lucas Bowen first overall (more about that later). A trade with the Fort Saskatchewan Rebels afforded the Club Taryn Hutchings second overall. Hutchings and their next draftee Rogalsky are both also drafted by the Jr. A Miners.
When I reached out to Michael Hritzuk, Sherwood Park Outlaws JrB General Manager for a comment on his 2021 draft class, I also asked for some guidance for myself and all lacrosse fans about how the Jr A and Tier 1 drafts correlate with other.
The Draft Class
- Lucas Bowen (1st overall)
- Taryn Hutchings (2nd overall via trade)
- Jarret Rogalsky (Round 2, 8th overall)
- Ben Hobday (Round 3, 9th overall)
- Jace Asay (Round 4, 15th overall via 2020 trade)
- Preston Stewart (Round 4, 16th overall)
- David Heinze (Round 5, 17th overall)
- Kai Lee (Round 6, 24th overall)
- Alex Sundac (Round 7, 25th overall)
General Manager Michael Hritzuk’s Comments
“The Junior A draft and Tier 1 draft are entirely different beasts. With only one A team in the region the A draft is more of a top 10 protected list selection. The Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League regulations also permit Junior A teams to keep players on their protected lists for the lifetime of their junior careers, regardless of whether they ever have a roster spot on the team or not. So it’s a bit simpler. A selects the 10 best players in the region that fit into their short and long-term anticipated needs.
With Tier 1 there are different considerations. To start with there are four teams in the region in the same draft pool. With this year’s snake draft that meant up to six spots between when one team made a selection and their opportunity to select again (with the exception of trades narrowing or widening that gap). Next to consider is that in Tier 1, if a player is not on your final roster on July 1st for two consecutive years you must release them and they become free agents. We also have to consider the mobility of the player. We are in the middle between A and Tier 2. A player may go up to A at any time or they may choose to play at Tier 2. With all these factors at play you cannot simply take the best player available with every pick .
The Outlaws alone have lost nine players in their draft year to the A division in the last 3 seasons, including every single one of our first overall picks. (It was unofficial last year as we did not have a season, but it was looking more and more like it was going to happen again). So there is a huge balancing act between taking the best overall player and the best player that is going to play at Tier 1 the longest.
Plus factor in your needs for upcoming seasons…do you need a goalie? lefties? righties? grit? Defence? Offence? So in order to build a stable program you need to have players in your draft selections that are still highly skilled and may eventually go to A, but are likely to be three to five year Tier 1 players. It’s always a concern that you may lose your #1 pick to A.
This year, with the alumni heritage and assurances from the Bowen family to develop Lucas for at least two years at Tier 1, we were more confident than ever taking the best overall prospect at #1.
With Hobday specifically, he has talent, great lax IQ but is likely to be at Tier 1 for a bit longer than several players on the A draft list. His alumni connection may have pushed him up the priority list for us, but regardless if we hadn’t take him where we did we wouldn’t have had the opportunity again.
There’s one more unique distinction between A and Tier 1. Every player in the region can still go try out for A even if they didn’t make that top 10 list. Whereas at Tier 1 the only players that can try out for you are the ones you draft and the ones that didn’t get drafted at all. There are occasionally hidden gems in that free agent pool but generally they are at least 60 to 80 places down in the draft rankings. All of these factors make draft decisions at Tier 1 a complicated matter with this year providing no exception. With AHS restrictions eliminating the possibility of a combine there was the additional wild card of trying to draft off of old information.
That being said, the Outlaws are extremely pleased and excited to get onto the floor with our 2021 draft selections. Congratulations to all players selected in the 2021 Tier 1 draft!”
Knowledge is power, thank you Mr. Hritzuk. Now we just need knowledge about the next steps to a return to play to see all these prospects in action. It is going to be wonderful. Stay safe everyone!