The Buffalo Bandits made multiple moves to prepare for the upcoming season after finishing in last place last season.
Last season the Bandits finished dead last in all of the National Lacrosse League last season.
The Bandits didn’t have a single player in the top ten goal leaders or assist leaders last season, last in Goals Against Average (G.A.A.), and gave up the most shorthanded goals in the league. Things had to change and they sure did.
The first notable move the Bandits made this offseason was trading fan favorite Ryan Benesch and a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 NLL Draft to the Colorado Mammoth for forward Callum Crawford and goaltender Alex Buque. Crawford led the Mammoth in goals and assists last season. Crawford also finished in the top 10 out of the entire league for points (goals + assists) earned.
In free agency the Bandits resigned forward Dhane Smith, defenseman Steve Priolo, and goaltender Davide DiRuscio each to two year contracts. Dhane Smith had the most points on the Bandits last season. Smith has the all time record for most points (goals + assists) in a single season when he registered 137 points in the 2016 season. Last year, Priolo was a finalist for the NLL Defensive Player of the Year award and picked up 131 loose balls, which led the team. DiRuscio is slated to compete with Buque for who gets to be the starting goaltender this year.
In the 2017 NLL Draft, the Bandits selected eight players in the 2017 NLL Draft, but most notably selected forward Josh Byrne with the first overall pick. Byrne is a left-handed forward out of Hofstra University and has quite the résumé. Byrne led the Hofstra Pride in goals assists and points last season. Byrne also played with the Chesapeake Bayhawks of the Major League Lacrosse this past summer. Byrne scored 39 goals in only 9 out of a possible 14 games last season. Byrne was also named the 2017 MLL Rookie of the Year.
The Bandits now have just over two months to prepare for their first regular season game when the Toronto Rock come to town on Dec. 8.