October 27, 2010

Grant to Colorado in Blockbuster Trade

from staff reports

John Grant Jr., who has spent his entire NLL career in Rochester, was dealt Wednesday to Colorado to highlight a busy day in the Mammoth front office.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

The Rochester Knighthawks parted ways Wednesday with franchise player John Grant Jr., sending the 2007 National Lacrosse League MVP to the Colorado Mammoth in exchange for 2010 NLL Goalie of the Year Matt Zinc and transition men Matt Zash and Brad Self, plus first- and third-round draft picks in 2012. Colorado also got defenseman Mac Allen and Rochester's first-round picks in the 2011 and 2013 drafts.

"It is always tough to trade your franchise player," said Jody Gage, the Knighthawks' vice president of player personnel. "Junior will always be a Knighthawk, but to get an impact player like Matt Vinc, you have to give up something. You are always excited when you can add an impact player and arguably one of the best goalies in the world. I would like to thank Junior for everything he has done on and off the floor."

Mammoth president and general manager Steve Govett hopes Grant has the same impact on the team as Gary Gait, who led Colorado to a Champion's Cup.

"John is the same age as Gary was when he came here to Denver in 2003," Govett said. "Hopefully he'll continue, maybe even improve on, his incredible career here in Colorado and we can enjoy the success Mammoth fans are used to."

Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley agreed.

"John, just like his father, is an amazing player. Definitely one of the best to ever play our sport," Hamlet said. "I'm excited to get him here to Denver and start working with him. His veteran presence, on a young team like ours, will be like having a coach on the field."

A 10-year NLL veteran, the 6-foot-2, 224-pound Grant has spent his entire career with Rochester.  Considered to have the best stick-handling skills in the sport, the left-handed forward has 976 career points, including 480 goals and 496 assists. His 6.33 career points per game average trumps that of Gait’s average of 5.86.

Grant will reside in Denver.

"I'm definitely excited about coming to Colorado," Grant said. "It's one of the best organizations in the league. They've put together one of the best rosters in the NLL and have one of the best coaching staffs as well."

Colorado will host the Toronto Rock in preseason action at the Pepsi Center on Saturday, Dec. 4.  The Mammoth’s 2011 regular season opener is Saturday, Jan. 8 against the defending NLL champion Washington Stealth.

Vinc is coming off one of his finest seasons as a pro, earning NLL Goaltender of the Year honors. The 28-year-old St. Catharines, Ontario, native was 10-5 last season with a league-best .810 save percentage and 609 saves. He became the first NLL goalie to post back-to-back 600-save seasons, recording 609 stops in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, he led the New York Titans into the NLL Finals. He was a two-time NLL All-Pro, winning First Team honors in 2010 and Second Team status in 2008. Widely regarded as one of the best goalies in the NLL, he has played five seasons and amassed 2,204 saves and an 11.27 goals against average in 66 regular season games. The 6-1, 225-pound Canisius alum has also appeared in seven playoff contests, sporting a 4-3 record and an additional 230 saves. He has won everywhere he has played, winning gold in 2006 and silver in 2010 with Canada as a long-pole defenseman in the FIL World Lacrosse Championships. In his junior career, he won three Ontario Championships and two Minto Cup Championships.
“I am very, very excited that Matt Vinc is coming to the Rochester Knighthawks and will be reunited with Mike Accursi, Jordan Hall and Matt Zash. It should be a good day for them,” said Knighthawks owner Curt Styres. “We have a plan and we are sticking to it, but it was a very stressful choice to make.”

More Mammoth Moves

With Vinc headed to Rochester, Colorado made a move to get goalie Matt King in a trade for forward Cory Conway. The Mammoth also got the Roughnecks’ second-round draft selection in the 2011 draft.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound King, is a 10-year NLL veteran with recent stops in Portland, Edmonton and Calgary. He's 15-4 since 2009, including a sparkling 10-0 record in 2009 to go with a Champion’s Cup title in Calgary.  With 2,241 career saves to his credit, and with a playoff save percentage at 81.4 percent, King is a nice addition to a Mammoth squad in search of its next all-star in goal.

“Matt is a great every-day goaltender that will come into camp and compete for the Mammoth job,” Govett said.  “He’s a super addition to our roster.”

In a separate deal, Colorado also acquired forward Mike McLellan from the Toronto Rock in exchange for a second-round draft pick in the 2012 draft.

McLellan, a 6-foot, 180-pound right-handed sniper, tallied 22 regular season goals, ranking him second on the team, to go with 13 assists for Orlando in 2010.  In just five NLL seasons, he’s amassed 111 goals and 77 assists in regular season action.

“We’re definitely excited about the addition of Mike to the Mammoth,” Govett said. “This is the player with the highest shooting percentage of any offensive player in the league – he’s a difference maker on any squad.”

Said Calgary president and general manager Brad Banister: “The life of the NLL changes day-to-day and, unfortunately, Matt King became a part of those changes with the Roughnecks. King came to us as an 18-year-old kid and won two championships for us in his time here. We wish King all the best and can’t thank him enough for what he has done for our team.”

Traded on his birthday, the 23-year-old Conway scored 34 points (9g, 25a) for the Mammoth in 2010 in only 10 games. Prior to his time in Colorado, Conway played two seasons with the Portland LumberJax, including their run to the NLL championship game in 2008, where they lost to Buffalo 14-13.

“We lost Tracey Kelusky earlier this month and right now we are looking to do a youth movement," Banister said. "Cory Conway is going to bring the offensive threat that we will be lacking after moving Tracey."

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