The 2017 rookie class was one for the history books. Highlighted by Josh Byrne’s record-setting 39 goals, this rookie class looks like one that will change the landscape of Major League Lacrosse for years to come. This draft class has star power and depth throughout the league that made an immediate impact on their respective teams. The three players that stood out and are the nominees for the Cascade Rookie of the Year are: Josh Byrne (Chesapeake Bayhawks), Dylan Molloy (Florida Launch), and Zach Currier (Denver Outlaws).
Zach Currier, M, Denver Outlaws
Currier was a first round pick by the Denver Outlaws in this summer’s draft. The Outlaws had pegged this NCAA All-American snub as a perfect fit for their system and traded up to secure him at sixth overall. He did not disappoint. He averaged three points per game and recorded multiple points in every game of his rookie season. The most impressive aspect of Currier’s game is his non-rookie like intelligence with the ball. He led all rookies in assists with 16 and posted a 1.23 assist to turnover ratio, which is fourth best among all players with ten or more assists. Coach BJ O’Hara deployed Currier’s dynamic passing ability and indoor lacrosse dodging style on the left wing of his motion offense and let him go to work on short-stick defensive midfielders.
Currier’s case for Rookie of the Year is strong. His point totals might not be as high as the other two nominees but his effect on his team might be the greatest. Between playing wings on face-offs, being on the man up unit, and creating offense on the lefty wing, this do-it-all midfielder will be testing the opposition for years to come.
Dylan Molloy, A, Florida Launch
Molloy was the first overall pick of the 2017 MLL draft. The Florida Launch took the 2016 Tewaaraton winner to play opposite of Kieran McArdle. Along with fellow rookies Nick Mariano and Sergio Salcido, Molloy and McArdle have created one of the most dynamic offenses since the draft. Since this rookie class has joined the Launch, they are scoring 3.3 more points per 45 possessions.
Many critics doubted Molloy’s physical dodging style before he entered the league. They believed he picked on defenders in college and wouldn’t have the same luxury when going against the best of the best in the MLL. Molloy continuously proved them wrong by putting up 3.63 points per game and a 38.71 percent shooting percentage on unassisted shots (third best among players with ten or more unassisted goals). Molloy found success with physical dodges where he can quickly roll off his defender and finish inside. One of Molloy’s best attributes is his ability to protect his stick with his big body and then find the time for a little snap of the wrist to put the ball in the back of the net.
Molloy’s ability to finish quickly doesn’t just help him when he’s dodging. His ability to find space off ball, catch and finish is another reason why the Launch took him first overall. Molloy has nine assisted goals on 17 shots, which may not be a lot, but he is very effective when he gets the chance. At 52.94 percent, Molloy is third in the league in assisted shooting percentage among players with nine or more assisted goals. Surrounding Molloy with dodgers has opened up his game to not only a ball dominant dodger, but also a nifty finisher.
Coach Mariano can use his dynamic first overall pick as a primary ball handler or a finisher off ball. Heading into playoffs, Coach Mariano will need all aspects of Molloy’s game to show up and dominate.
Byrne was the 19th overall selection in the 2017 MLL draft. The lefty attackman out of Hofstra was an overlooked prospect coming off a senior season in which he led the team with 41 goals in 14 games; a phenomenal feat at the NCAA level. Byrne, with a chip on his shoulder, went on to average 4.33 goals per game and score the most goals in a rookie season in MLL history. He also led the league with 5.33 points per game. Byrne is a physical dodger with a rocket for a shot and he can hurt you with or without the ball. He ranks second in unassisted goals with 21 and has the best unassisted shooting percentage in the league at 45.65 percent. He ranks 11th in assisted goals with 18 in the league but is 1st among rookies. In conclusion, JOSH BYRNE SCORES GOALS.
At the end of the day, all three of these rookies deserve recognition. Currier’s ability to play within the Denver system and lead all rookies in assists is admirable. Molloy’s dodging and finishing ability is uncanny. But I believe the Cascade Rookie of the Year will go to Josh Byrne. HE JUST SCORES SO MANY GOALS!