The Maple Ridge Burrards have pulled off a blockbuster trade, acquiring star players from the Coquitlam Adanacs for this season, while trading away two first-round draft picks in the next three years.
A Western Lacrosse Association press release said the trade has been approved, “with the Burrards explicitly signalling their intent to make a run for a 2019 Mann Cup Championship.”
The Adanacs have acquired the Burrards’ first round draft picks in the 2020 and 2022 graduating junior draft, along with the playing rights to Chase McIntyre and Ryan Johnson, plus future considerations.
In return, the Burrards will receive the 2019 playing rights to Wes Berg, Alex Bohl, and goaltender Christian Del Bianco, as well as the long-term playing rights to Brett Kujala, and the Adanacs’ second-round draft pick in the 2020 draft.
Berg is a huge part of the deal. The six-foot-two, 205-pound Coquitlam native was second on the NLL Calgary Roughnecks in scoring in 2018. He had 37 goals and 86 points in 18 games – finishing behind longtime Burrard star Curtis Dickson.
“He’s a rental for this year, but he’s an elite player,” said Burrards GM Lance Andre. “Now we undoubtedly have one of the best offensive lineups in the NLL, WLA or all of lacrosse.”
Andre said he wanted Bohl to bolster the transition and defense on the right side.
”This trade now gives Maple Ridge a potent right side offence with Berg, Bohl, and existing players Ben McIntosh, Curtis Dickson, Mike Mallory, and Athan Iannucci,” said the WLA release.
Del Bianco, of Coquitlam, is coming off an NLL championship with the Roughnecks, and a Minto Cup championship. Adding a Mann Cup is the goal now, said Andre.
He joins incumbent goaltender Frank Scigliano. In his eight games this season, Scigliano has six wins and has stopped 256 of 300 shots on goal so far this season. He leads the league in wins, goals against average (5.66) and save percentage (.872).
Andre said he wanted to add depth. Last year at the Mann Cup, Scigliano faced over 70 shots in an overtime game, and was exhausted. The next night, the Peterborough Lakers came back with a fresh goalie, but Scigliano went right back in for the Burrards. Andre said he wants to give his coaching staff another option, but Scigliano is still at the top of the depth chart in goal.
“If he could, he’d run up the floor and score because he’s that much of a competitor,” said Del Bianco’s Calgary coach Curt Malawsky, who is also a Ridge Meadows lacrosse coach, in an interview earlier this year.
“Christian Del Bianco, to us coaches, is a throwback. He’s an old school guy. He lives it. He takes it everywhere he goes. It’s so nice to see that. He cares so much, so for him to contribute to us every night has been great.”
Andre said he also didn’t want to face Del Bianco in a different lineup come WLA playoffs. He is considered by many pundits to be the best young goaltender in the game.
“He’s better to play with us than against us.”
Brett Kujala played his lacrosse in Maple Ridge, and so far has 37 points in 29 games over three seasons in the WLA.
Giving up Chase McIntyre was tough after the way he played to start the season, and Andre said he was an integral part of the 6-2 start to the season. But his playing time would be limited once the Burrards have their full team on the floor.
The @Burrardslax Management, Coaches and Players would like to say thank you to Chase McIntyre! He was a big part of our success in the last 1 ½ years! We are sorry to see you go, but look forward to seeing your success in the future! pic.twitter.com/Bs1WSkiDOQ
— Maple Ridge Burrards (@Burrardslax) June 18, 2019
“He’s been a warrior for us,” said Andre.
The price of two first-round draft picks is also steep, but Andre said the loss is mitigated by new WLA rules that will allow the club to protect a home-grown prospect, and not have to draft them. He will choose to protect Roughnecks tough defender Anthony Kalinich, whom he said would be a top-three draft pick in the WLA draft this year.
Andre noted that all WLA rosters must be finalized by July 1, but said he is not done dealing.
• The Burrards are on the road next against the Nanaimo Timbermen on Saturday night. They will host the New Westminster Salmonbellies on Sunday at 6:45 p.m. at Cam Neely Arena.