By Graeme Perrow
First Josh Sanderson was sent from Calgary to Boston for a buncha kids. Then just a couple of weeks ago, the Roughies sent Tracy Kelusky to Buffalo for a draft pick. And now in the third major trade of the offseason, John Grant Jr. leaves Rochester for Colorado in exchange for Matt Vinc. Combine this with some other trades (Snider, Paul Dawson, Conn, Moleski) and the Orlando Titans dispersal draft, and I can't remember an offseason when so many big name players were moved around.
I have to say I'm confused about one part of the trade, as reported by NLLInsider.com:
The Colorado Mammoth have confirmed the deal Insider reported on earlier today, the Mammoth sending Matt Vinc, Matt Zash, Brad Self and their first & third round picks in the 2012 entry draft to the Rochester Knighthawks in exchange for John Grant, Brad Self and Rochester’s first round picks in the 2011 and 2013 draft.
Odd that Brad Self finds himSelf (har) on both sides of the same trade. The second Brad Self there (the one going to Colorado) should actually be Mac Allen.
I found this trade a bit odd at first. One of Colorado's biggest problems over the last few years is the lack of a solid #1 goalie. They picked up the reigning Goaltender of the Year in the Titans dispersal draft, so problem solved, right? Wrong. Instead they improve their office by getting Grant. But then later in the day, they grabbed Matt King from Calgary. King is no Vinc, but he's an improvement over the committee the Mammoth had in goal last year (Levis, Leyshon, Palidwor, Tyacke). The Mammoth definitely needed a bump in the offense department – they scored more than 12 goals only four times last year. Adding Junior will help there, no question.
Being a Rock fan, I've seen Grant play a bunch of times and when he's on, there's arguably nobody better in the game today. (I'd be interested to know if anyone has scored more than Grant over the last ten years. Likely Tavares and maybe Doyle or Sanderson, but that's about it.) More often than I can count, I've seen him walking around the offensive zone, looking for someone to pass to, when he seems to just decide "I think I'll score now" and does. His behind-the-back goals are legendary, and I always laugh when I see some rookie run out in front of the net and try one, missing the net by three feet. Not only can he score, but he'll deal the ball as well – of course, when you play with guys like Gary Gait, Shawn Williams, Cory Bomberry, Craig Point, and the Evans boys, you've got some talented people to pass to. But just having Grant on the floor will help you. He's a big strong guy that pretty much requires double-teaming by two very capable defensemen, thereby leaving only three defenders to cover your remaining four forwards. This makes Grant deadly on the power play.
Now, this is not to say that Grant doesn't have his weaknesses. Here's a tip for all you western division defenders that haven't played against Grant often. (Aside: Write this date down in your calendars. It's not every day you see a man who's never played a lacrosse game in his life giving lacrosse advice to pros 20 years younger than him.) Here's how you reduce John Grant's effectiveness: PISS HIM OFF. Surely by now Grant is used to being double-teamed and hacked relentlessly by defenders, but now and again something makes him angry and he takes a dumb retaliatory penalty. Mission accomplished. More often than not after this happens, he's just not the same John Grant anymore. He loses his scoring touch (to some extent – you can't completely shut him down) and sometimes takes even more dumb penalties. This is what makes John Tavares so great – piss him off and he'll just score on you. I've seen Tavares take his share of dumb penalties as well, but not as often as Grant, and it doesn't seem to affect his scoring touch afterwards.
Rochester gives up some offense, but now has one of the most enviable goaltender tandems in the league. O'Toole was Goaltender of the Year in 2003 and has been at the top of anyone's goalie list for most of his career. Now with Vinc as the likely #1, O'Toole becomes the best backup goalie in the league.
But assuming Colorado doesn't make any more moves, they have King and either Palidwor or Levis as their goalies this season. This is an improvement over last year, even if it isn't as big an improvement as Vinc would have been. They've also improved their offense substantially, so when combined with the King deal, I'd say Colorado wins this trade.