There is so much talent available in the NLL that when teams make trades it often evens out. A straight-up player-for-player swap returns equal value to each team.
Teams also don’t have a long time to build a winner, so if something isn’t working they have to fix it fast.
That’s what brought Thomas Hoggarth to the Buffalo Bandits (4-3) from the Vancouver Stealth (1-7) this week in exchange for Pat Saunders. Though Hoggarth and Saunders play different positions, they provide equal value to whatever team they’re on.
The Bandits had too many lefty forwards, so Saunders is headed to the NLL’s last-place Stealth to help out Logan Schuss and Corey Small, to provide support on the left side. Schuss, Small and Rhys Duch are a fearsome trio but adding another player with experience will push them to be even better.
In Hoggarth, the Stealth give up a 22-year-old transition player who is able to patrol his own end and also run and score when the opportunity arises. He’ll be a big help to the Bandits back end, which hasn’t had a lot of success on the odd-man rush this season. Nick Weiss leads the defense in goals with seven, and Kevin Brownell has five, but with Mark Steenhuis on the IR indefinitely, they’re lacking some consistency on transition.
“I was a little surprised by the trade but I knew change was happening in Vancouver after their rocky start. I’m very happy to go to Buffalo,” said Hoggarth, who grew up watching the Bandits. “Now actually being a part of them is something I worked towards.”
Hoggarth will miss the Stealth and the great friendships he made with his former teammates, but he’s excited he’ll now have friends and family in attendance at his games at KeyBank Center, Buffalo being just a smidge closer to his hometown of Lakefield, Ontario (about 10 minutes outside of the lacrosse hotbed of Peterborough).
“I’m grateful to the entire Stealth organization, as they treated me well,” Hoggarth said. “I am happy to be building on and continuing my lacrosse journey.”
A little more scoring won’t hurt the Bandits if Hoggarth is encouraged to run. The Bandits have five players with 25 points or more, led by Dhane Smith’s 47, but after that production drops off dramatically.
“They’re a fast team with a high-powered offence, and I can see myself fitting in perfectly with their fast-paced game,” Hoggarth said. “I’m really looking forward to contributing to the team.”
Hoggarth was originally drafted by the Georgia Swarm 20th overall in the 2015 NLL draft. In two-and-a-half NLL seasons, he has recorded eight goals and four assists as well as 44 loose balls and 15 caused turnovers. In addition to his NLL stats, he helped the Peterborough Lakers win the Mann Cup this summer as a rookie and was voted the Lakers’ rookie of the year.
Hoggarth will debut with the Bandits when they visit the New England Black Wolves at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday evening. The Bandits then host the Swarm on Saturday night at KeyBank Center. Both games can be seen on NLLTV.com.