By Paul Ryan | 1/10/14 2:00 PM
Not everyone can be a first-round draft choice, but just because a player fell to the sixth round doesn’t mean he won’t become a big name player in the league. In preparation of the 2014 draft, we’ve put together a list of the best collegiate draft steals of all-time. In order to be considered a late rounder, the player had to be drafted in the fourth round or later. Don’t forget to tune in tonight and watch the 2014 MLL Collegiate Draft on the League’s YouTube Channel starting at 8:30 p.m. (click on this link)
2012: Matt Mackrides (Attack) – 4th round, 26th overall to Chesapeake
On a team so laden with talent, sometimes quiet, steady players go unnoticed. Mackrides played well his rookie year, scoring five goals in nine games, but exploded last season, finishing 3rd on the Bayhawks with 21 goals. He also played a key role in the team’s playoff run this past season, registering two points in the championship game, including an assist on the eventual game-winner.
2012: Tommy Palasek (Attack) – 4th round, 28th overall to Long Island
Tommy Palasek started his NCAA career with Johns Hopkins and ended it in Syracuse. His transfer in college may have scared some GM’s off, but his play in the MLL has been impressive. Now in just his second year in the league, Palasek has been a steady stream of offense for the Lizards. His 21 goals in 2012 were good for third on the team, while his 18 in 2013 were second for New York. Palasek should be good for another 20 goals next year, especially playing up front with Rob Pannell.
2012: Chris Bocklet (Attack) – 4th round, 29th overall to Denver
Man, has the 29th overall spot been nice to Denver the past two years (see: Law, Eric). The Outlaws got Bocklet out of the University of Virginia, where he showed he could put up big offensive numbers with 137 goals in 63 games. He continued his strong play in his first MLL season, with 17 goals in just seven games in 2012. In 2013, he exploded offensively, sharing the scoring title with Kevin Crowley, who also scored 55 points.
2011: Brian Karalunas (Defense) – 6th round, 35th overall to Long Island
Karalunas is one of only two defensemen to make the list, and for good reason. He’s been named to the MLL All-Star team the past two years and has not missed one game in his time as a Lizard (39 games). He’s scooped up 34, 33, and 33 ground balls in his first three years in the league and recorded two assists each of the past two seasons. To summarize, Karalunas has been the ultimate quiet, steady defenseman for New York.
2011: Adam Ghitelman (Goalie) – 8th round, 45th overall to Denver
Adam Ghitelman wasn’t just a late-rounder, he was the fourth-to-last pick in the 2011 MLL Collegiate draft. Just four months later, he helped the University of Virginia to a National Title. Ghitelman played just 39 minutes for the Outlaws in his first season, before the Hounds picked him up in the 2012 MLL Expansion Draft. In his first year in Charlotte, Ghitelman had one of the highest goals against averages, but posted a league-best .551 save percentage. In 2013, he led the Hounds to their first ever playoff appearance.
2009: Ben Hunt (Midfield) – 4th round, 28th overall to Washington
Picks number 26-29 have been huge the past several years and it all started with Ben Hunt in the 2009 MLL Collegiate draft. Hunt proved to be a steady offensive contributor in his first two regular seasons, registering nine goals in six games both years. However, Hunt made his biggest contribution in the 2010 playoffs, scoring four times during championship weekend, including the first goal of the title game, which stopped a Long Island run. He now has three titles in five seasons and has 21 points in just 7 playoff games.
2008: Chris Eck (Faceoff) -- 4th round, 38th to Boston
Chris Eck has only gotten better with age. The 28-year-old has proven himself to be one of the best faceoff men in league history and is certainly justifying he should have been picked higher. Eck is 1009 for 1760 in the faceoff “x” for his career, giving him a 57% winning percentage. His 60% this year proves that he’d make a strong candidate on Team USA for the World Championships.
2008: Brett Queener (Goalie) – 5th round, 48th to Rochester
Coming out of the University of Albany, Queener flew under everyone’s radar back in 2008. Queener was finally selected 48th overall – third-to-last in the draft – by the Rochester Rattlers. Queener proved to be outstanding his rookie year, posting an unreal .712 save percentage in the 117 minutes he played. Unbelievably, his numbers got better in the playoffs, posting an unheard of .737 save percentage with a 4.94 goals against, helping the Rattlers to an MLL title. His 8.02 goals against average and .616 save percentage in the postseason are both the best all-time for goalies.
2007: Jesse Schwartzman (Goalie) – 4th round, 39th overall to Denver
Of the four goalies to play in 2013 Championship Weekend, Schwartzman was drafted the second highest at 39th overall. Safe to say, a lot of good goalies are underrated come draft time. Schwartzman proved to be a stud at Johns Hopkins, winning two National Titles, but still fell to the fourth round to Denver. The Outlaws have gladly taken him, as he’s backstopped Denver for the past six and a half seasons. Schwartzman is the league’s all-time leader in save percentage, while he is three victories away from breaking the all-time wins record.
2004: Stephen Berger (Midfield) – 5th round, 30th overall to Long Island
30th overall may not seem that late in the grand scheme of things, but when you realize that he was the last overall pick in the 2005 draft, you realize what a steal Long Island got. That’s right, the same Stephen Berger who has scored 188 goals in his MLL career was the final pick in the ’05 draft. Maybe it was because Berger attended D-III Washington College, but either way, Long Island proved that any spot in the draft can be a good one.
2001: Matt Striebel (Midfield) – 4th round, 19th overall to Bridgeport
Striebel barely squeaks in as the first pick of the fourth round in 2001, but because there were only 30 picks in the inaugural draft, that makes things a bit different. Striebel was coming off two National Championships at Princeton, yet he fell down into Bridgeport’s lap. Striebel moved on to Philadelphia, where he won three titles and was named Game MVP in the 2007 title game. His 150 games played are by far the most in league history. His 215 goals and 348points put him in 9th place for both categories. Matt Striebel is now a legend in the MLL, but he started as just a late-round pick that had to prove himself better than his draft number.