By Graeme Perrow
A day after dropping the news that the Rock and Mammoth had made a trade, Teddy Jenner finally broke the news of who was involved, which was later confirmed both by Rock owner Jamie Dawick on twitter and on NLL.com. Forward Dan Carey was sent from Colorado to Toronto along with a third round draft pick in 2011 and a first rounder in 2013 for defender Creighton Reid, forward Mat MacLeod, a first rounder in the 2011 draft, and a second rounder also in 2011.
The 29-year-old Carey is a two-time All-Star, as well as the winner of the 2008 Sportsmanship Award. Carey has an unbelievable 11 penalty minutes in his 60-game career, and none in 28 games since 2007. According to NLL.com, the Rock now have "three of the premiere left-handed offensive players in the league alongside Captain Colin Doyle and Stephan Leblanc". Personally, I think that including Carey in that "premiere" group may be premature. Carey missed most of 2009 and all of 2010 with a concussion, and while he did score 35 points in 12 games last season, by all accounts he was not back to his previous level of play. Mammoth fan and NLLBlog and ProSportsColorado.com writer Melissa Dafni said "Carey is talented, but he'll never be the player he was." Still, those 35 points translate to 47 points over 16 games, which would have put him fifth ahead of Beirnes and Pascas (and well ahead of fellow lefty Pat Maddalena's 10 points) on the 2011 Rock. The Rock also picked up a first round draft pick, though it's in the 2013 draft, so they have to wait almost two years before they even know where the pick might be.
The Mammoth pick up Mat MacLeod, who has four seasons of NLL experience despite being only 23 years old, and Creighton Reid, who is only a year older than MacLeod. MacLeod played in 12 games this past season, but didn't see a lot of floor time. Creighton Reid, on the other hand, played in every game last season and ten the year before, with his playing time continually increasing. I thought Reid was one of the hardest working players on a very good defense last season. With this trade, Colorado gets a forward to make up for some of what they lose in Carey, a solid young defenseman to add to an already-strong defense corps, and two 2011 draft picks. The Mammoth now have 5 of the first 17 picks in the 2011 draft, rumoured to be one of the deepest in years, which bodes well for the Mammoth's rebuilding efforts.
The big question for me is the motive behind the trade, from the Toronto side anyway. Did this trade address the gaping hole in the Rock roster that Bob Watson's retirement left behind? Not at all. Did the Rock need more offense? Arguably not, since they just won the Championship, and only two teams scored more goals than the Rock last year. Did they have excess defense and need to get rid of someone? No, many NLL fans (particularly Rock fans who were around during the Les Bartley days) know that you can never have too much defense, though I think it's fair to say that the Rock has enough that they can afford to lose Reid. But you don't trade a player just because you can afford to lose him to get back someone you may not need. [WARNING: speculation ahead.] Perhaps Carey asked for this deal. Once his goal of resuming his NLL career after his injury actually came true, he may have realized that he didn't want to be flying out to Colorado and Washington and Alberta for almost every game. Carey lives in Peterborough, about an hour north-east of Toronto, so despite cutting down on his frequent flyer miles, I'm sure he will appreciate the travel advantages of playing for the Rock. Carey also got married last summer, so perhaps he wants to start a family and spend more time near home. Again, this is all entirely speculation on my part, but if Carey asked to be traded to Toronto, Rock GM Terry Sanderson may have decided that the price wasn't too steep, and since the Pat Maddalena experiment didn't work out as they might have hoped, perhaps the Dan Carey experiment would be more successful.
If Carey's play continues to improve and he even approaches his former playing level, he could work out to be a pretty good addition to the Rock, and MacLeod and Reid can help the Mammoth for many years to come. It's hard to pick a winner of this trade given the draft picks involved, but if this year's draft is as deep as they're saying, this could work out very well for Colorado. Call it a tie – a good deal for both sides.