August 9, 2011

Merrill Sent to Philadelphia Wings in Blockbuster NLL Deal

from press releases

The Edmonton Rush traded two-time reigning NLL Transition Player of the Year Brodie Merrill, two other players and two draft picks to the Philadelphia Wings in exchange for Athan Iannucci, two players and three future first round draft picks.

© Edmonton Rush

In a blockbuster National Lacrosse League trade announced Tuesday, Brodie Merrill and Athan Iannucci were the headliners in a six-player deal that sent each of the NLL stars to teams across North America — and gave three first round draft picks to the Edmonton Rush.

The Rush traded Merrill, Mike McLellan, Dean Hill, the 41st overall pick (5th round) in the 2011 Entry Draft and a 2013 Entry Draft fourth round selection to the Wings in exchange for Iannucci, Brodie McDonald, Alex Turner, and the three first round draft picks: (2012, 2013 and 2014).

Merrill is widely regarded as one of the top players in the NLL and was named the 2010 Transition Player of the Year. He figures to dramatically improve the Wings transition game as the standout transition player recovered an NLL-best 187 loose balls last season. Merrill also plays defenseman for the Hamilton Nationals of Major League Lacrosse.

"I have a little bit of mixed emotions because I'll be leaving behind good friends, teammates and coaches in Edmonton," Merrill said about the trade. "But I'm very excited to be moving closer to home, joining the Philadelphia Wings and helping the team return to the playoffs."

Iannucci is one of the premier scorers in the NLL who set the league record for goals in a season, totaling 71 during an incredible 2008 campaign. After missing all of the 2010 season with torn knee ligaments, Ianucci returned to the Philadelphia lineup last season and led the Wings in scoring with 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points.

"This was not an easy trade to make, on a personal level and from an Edmonton Rush team perspective. The reasons are multi-layered." Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan said.

"First and foremost we received the single season goal scoring record holder, one of the top 2 young goaltending prospects in lacrosse and a big, solid young left handed offensive player along with 3 first round draft picks. These are all solid assets moving forward."

"Trading Brodie Merrill was the most difficult move I have ever made in my many, many years of involvement in lacrosse. He is the consummate professional and a tremendous leader. However on a personal level for Brodie this is a good move for him. With his involvement with the Hill Academy, a family operated prep school in North Toronto it was becoming more and more difficult for him to travel and play in the West Division. The school continues to grow and with his role as Lacrosse Program Director the demands on his time continue grow. Although difficult, this is a good trade for the Rush, for Brodie and I think for the Philadelphia Wings as well."

"We welcome Brodie to our organization," said Wings general manager and new head coach Johnny Mouradian. "He is a very loyal player and adds to our leadership, builds our defense, solidifies our transition game and strengthens our man-down and face-off situations. Brodie is one of the best lacrosse players both indoor and field in the world, and he will help us advance our play to the next level."

Of the trade in general, Mouradian said: "This trade is really good for both organizations from a talent standpoint, however it also provides an opportunity for western players to play in the west and eastern players to play in the east."

Iannucci, a native of Port Moody, B.C., has notched 252 points including 153 goals in just 54 regular-season games in the NLL. The six-foot-four, 215-pound forward was at his best in the 2008 season as he set the league record with 71 goals, eclipsing the previous mark set by Hall of Fame member Gary Gait. Iannucci was the NLL's leading scorer that season with 100 points, and racked up a long list of awards including the league's MVP nod, a starting spot in the All-Star Game, and First Team All-Pro honors.

As well in 2008, Iannucci captured three Player of the Month awards, and for just the second time in league history earned the Player of the Month recognition in back-to-back months (January/February).

Iannucci broke into the NLL as the eighth overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft and went on to score 30 goals in his rookie campaign with the Wings, earning him a spot on the league's All-Rookie Team. Prior to joining the Wings, Iannucci was a standout in the NCAA ranks with Hofstra University, where in 2006 he tied for the national scoring title with 62 goals and 18 assists. Ianucci played his junior lacrosse with Coquitlam and St. Catharines.

"First off, I would like to thank Brodie Merrill for everything he did for the Rush franchise, in game action and in particular within the Edmonton community," said Rush owner Bruce Urban.

"Brodie is an exceptional player – one of the world's best – and it is not easy to see him leave the team, and of course he will be missed. But in return, we have acquired an incredibly talented scorer in Athan Iannucci who I believe the fans will instantly love for his skill."

"Our lineup has never featured a truly elite level scorer in his prime and I'm excited to see what Athan can achieve with the talent we have surrounded him with."

Turner comes to the Rush after having his most productive season in the NLL, registering 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points. The six-foot, 200-pound native of Kamloops, B.C., was drafted 32nd overall by San Jose in the 2009 NLL Entry Draft and scored 16 points in his rookie season with the Stealth. He was traded on draft day in 2009 to Minnesota but appeared in only one game the following season with the Swarm and was dealt to Philadelphia.

MacDonald is regarded as one of the NLL's brightest goaltending prospects, having been selected 19th overall in the 2010 Entry Draft by the Wings. The six-foot-seven, 245-pounder from Vernon, B.C., won a Minto Cup in his final year of junior and was a B.C. Junior League Second Team All-Star.

This summer, Iannucci, Turner and MacDonald all played for the Langley Thunder of the WLA. Ianucci led the team with 29 goals and 29 assists for 58 points which ranked him ninth in the league, while Turner recorded 17 goals and 25 assists for 48 points. Playing in his senior league rookie season, MacDonald registered the third-best goals-against average in the WLA at 8.51 and had a .822 save-percentage while sporting a 6-2-2 record.

The first-round picks acquired by the Rush are Philadelphia's selections in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 NLL Entry Drafts. The picks sent to Philadelphia are the Rush's fifth-round selection in 2011 and fourth-round selection in 2013.

A two-time winner of the league's Transition Player of the Year, Merrill departs the Rush after a pair of seasons during which he twice earned the team's MVP award. Merrill appeared in all 32 regular-season games in his two years with the Rush, and set all major team records for a transition player.

Hill played in 24 games over two seasons with the Rush, collecting 51 points including 28 goals. McLellan, who was originally an expansion draft selection of the Rush 2005, returned to the team last season in the trade that sent Gavin Prout to Colorado. In six games with Edmonton, he scored three goals and eight assists.

"On behalf of our ownership group we want to welcome Brodie, Dean and Mike," said Wings executive vice president and co-owner Mike French. "All will fill the various roles outlined for improvement by our coaching staff. We simply could not pass up on the opportunity to get Brodie Merrill into our organization. His skills in all aspects of the game, his character and his leadership are a perfect fit for our young team. He has the very unique characteristic of making everyone on the floor and in the locker room better players and better teammates."

More Trading

The Wings were part of another trade Tuesday involving draft picks. The Minnesota Swarm acquired the 20th overall pick (third round) in the 2011 Entry Draft and a 2013 second round selection from Philadelphia in exchange for the 19th overall pick (second round) in the 2011 Entry Draft and a 2013 third round selection.

"Our pick in this year's draft was the last pick in the second round so this moves us back only one spot this year, but gives us an opportunity for a higher second round pick in a future draft," Swarm Owner and President John Arlotta said. "Philadelphia needed a second round pick this year to complete an earlier trade so this ends up being a good deal for both teams."

Culp Inks With Buffalo

Buffalo Bandits Director of Lacrosse Operations Scott Loffler announced Tuesday that the team has signed forward Chad Culp to a two-year contract.

"I'm happy to be a Bandit," Culp said. "I'm excited for the upcoming season and looking forward to getting back to the playoffs with a chance to win the NLL Championship."

Culp made his Bandits debut last season, finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 40 points (21g, 19a) in 15 games. Culp added six points (3, 3) in two playoff games.

The Fergus, Ont. Native was originally signed by the Bandits as a free agent prior to the 2011 season. In 119 career NLL games, Culp has amassed 325 points (129, 196), 537 loose balls and 125 penalty minutes playing in New York, Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado and Buffalo.

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