January 3, 2012

Buffalo: You Know What You're Going to Get

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com

Mark Steenhuis returns in Buffalo, along with most of the Bandits' roster from 2011.
© Larry Palumbo

Buffalo Bandits

2011 Record: 11-7, lost to Toronto in East final

Offseason: Acquired forward Luke Wiles from Washington

Rewind last season's pre-game video package, because most of the faces are the same. Outside shooter Wiles came over from Washington for a couple of draft picks, forward Kevin Buchanan was acquired in the dispersal draft, and defenseman Chris Corbeil was traded to Edmonton to get the entry draft pick (ninth) used to select Syracuse standout Jeremy Thompson.

That's it, which isn't a bad thing. Buffalo returns 17 players from its 2011 squad. There's a lot to be said for continuity.

"Our power play hasn't been very good for the last couple of years, and Luke will help us out there," said head coach Darris Kilgour. "We like his lacrosse IQ. He's a smart player. We're hoping he'll settle down the right side. He and Mark [Steenhuis] should work well together."

The Bandits will once again rely heavily on the ageless John Tavares, 43, the NLL's all-time leading scorer who put up 32 goals and 46 assists last season. There'll be big changes once Tavares retires, and Kilgour is getting ready by banking draft picks.

The defense will get a boost with basher Billy Dee Smith returning after sitting out last season with a knee injury. Starting goalie Mike Thompson blew out a knee at the world indoor championship last May, but should be ready to shoulder the workload.

Insider's Take

"They're a team that is standing pat. They exited against Toronto last year, and I don't think they're better than that today."

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