July 13, 2011

Rush Acquires Star Trio From Minnesota For Picks

from press releases

EDMONTON — The National Lacrosse League's Edmonton Rush on Wednesday acquired two-time NLL Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Cousins, two-time 40-goal scorer Aaron Wilson, goaltending prospect Kevin Croswell, and a second-round pick (10th overall) in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft from the Minnesota Swarm in exchange for Edmonton's first-round pick (sixth overall) and fourth-round pick (31st overall) in the 2011 NLL Entry Draft, along with the Rush's second-round pick in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft.

The acquisitions significantly bolster the Rush in all areas with Cousins providing stellar defensive play and leadership, Wilson bringing top-flight offensive talents, and Croswell solidifying the team's future between the pipes.

Minnesota now holds two first round selections in this year's draft with the No. 4 and No. 6 picks.

"In Ryan Cousins we have acquired a world-class player," said Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan. "He has long been a top defender in the NLL along with being a great leader. He also adds more speed and skill to our transition game."

"Aaron Wilson is the best off-ball offensive player in the NLL and a great finisher so he will complement our terrific playmakers such as Ryan Ward, Scott Evans, Corey Small and Zach Greer.

"Kevin Croswell is a young goalie who has shown steady improvement and is edging closer to being an NLL starter. We also think there will be a very good player available with the 10th overall pick."

The deal is the first major transcation for Minnesota since the departure of former general manager Marty O'Neill.

“We felt like the opportunity to move up in this draft and get some younger players this year and next year was important for us at this stage in our development," Swarm owner John Arlotta said. "We have made the playoffs in five of the seven years of our existence, but we have never won a playoff game. We need to take the next step and become a consistent playoff winner.  We believe the players in this year’s draft, which is arguably one of the best in recent memory, will get us started toward achieving that goal.” 

Cousins, who was the captain of the Swarm, spent seven seasons in Minnesota and was named the NLL's Defensive Player of the Year in both 2007 and 2008. The six-foot-one, 200-pound left-shooting rearguard is a 10-year NLL veteran, playing in 128 regular-season games and amassing 31 goals and 47 assists for 78 points plus 172 loose balls.

The 30-year-old Toronto native had his best offensive season in 2005 when he registered career-highs in goals (9), assists (14), and points (23).

"Ryan has been our team captain since day one, which makes it very hard to part ways with him after everything he has done for our organization," Arlotta said. "I want to thank Ryan for all of his contributions to the Swarm both on and off the field during his seven years with the team."

Wilson spent the last three seasons in Minnesota after playing six years in Toronto and helping the Rock win the 2005 Champion's Cup. He set a career-high with 41 goals during that championship season and has totalled 24 points in seven playoff games.

The five-foot-eight, 180-pound forward had his most prolific season in 2010 when he reached the 40-goal plateau for a second time and set a career-high with 89 points. Last season with the Swarm, Wilson notched 23 goals and 34 assists for 57 points.

Wilson, 31, plays in the summer for his home-town Kitchener-Waterloo Kodiaks (Major Series Lacrosse) and currently has 17 points in 10 games.

“Aaron is a guy we traded for a few years ago to specifically get a player that could put goals on the board, and he’s done just that over the years,” Arlotta said. ”It was hard parting with Aaron in this trade. He is such a great competitor who gave everything he had on every shift and that leadership will certainly be missed.  With that said, you have to give quality to get quality, and I believe we will get that in this year’s draft.” 

Croswell, a native of Peterborough, Ontario, was primarily used by the Swarm as the back-up to Nick Patterson, and has played just 953 minutes over the course of the past four NLL seasons. The six-foot-four, 205-pound netminder has a career 11.52 goals-against average and a .773 save-percentage.

Croswell mustered the best outing of his NLL career in 2011, managing an impressive 47 saves in a 13-8 victory over Calgary last April. This summer, he is playing for his home-town Peterborough Lakers (Major Series Lacrosse) and is anchoring the league-leaders with a 6-0 record along with the league's second-best goals-against average at 7.11.

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