Toronto (WKBW.com/Bandits Release) The Buffalo Bandits have selected seven players in the 2012 NLL Entry Draft, including fifth-overall pick Dhane Smith of Kitchener, Ont., Buffalo’s highest selection since the team chose Brett Bucktooth with the third overall pick of the 2006 draft.
Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich noted that the Bandits finished the night with several of the players they had targeted prior to the draft.
"We were able to get some guys later on that we had rated a lot higher," Dietrich said. "Some guys slid to us that we were real happy with. We wanted to get some guys who could come in and compete for spots right away, and I think we did that."
The Bandits selected the 20-year-old Smith with the fifth pick in the draft. Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich cited Smith’s athleticism and "tremendous upside" as the reasons the team chose him with the early pick.
“Dhane's the complete package," Dietrich said. "He's got great vision and great hands, and he's proven in junior that he can score a lot of goals. I think with his athleticism and [head coach Darris Kilgour] teaching him to play defense in the system that he runs, I think he'll be real good at it.”
As a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves, Smith led all Ontario Junior "A" players with 107 points (38+69) in 19 games. His efforts earned him the Bobby Allan Award, given to the league's top scorer and the Dennis McIntosh Award, awarded annually to the league's most valuable player.
Smith, who said that he is looking forward to playing with his cousin, Bandits defenseman Billy Dee Smith, describes himself as an offensive player who can also play out of the back door, but noted that he is willing to contribute at whatever position the team needs him in.
In the second round of the draft, the Bandits selected Hayden Smith (13th overall), Jordan Critch (16th overall) and Carter Bender (18th overall).
Smith (6'0", 192 lbs., 1/18/91), sought out by the Bandits for his aggressive, hard-nosed defending, used his defensive skills to help the Orangeville Northmen to a Minto Cup championship in 2012. Critch (5'11", 175 lbs., 3/13/91) was also a member of the Minto Cup champion Northmen, finished third on the team in scoring with 62 points (38+24) in 16 games.
"Critch can score, he's played defense, and he's another guy that we think can get up and down the floor for us," Dietrich said.
Critch, who Dietrich was surprised to see available at 16th, thinks the Bandits are a good fit for his style of play.
"I think [the Bandits] like to push the ball a lot," Critch said. "With my style of play, I'll be able to play the defense well but also create opportunities on the offensive side when given the chance."
Bender (6'3", 205 lbs., 4/5/89) ranked third on the Brampton Major Excelsiors with 25 points (10+15) in 11 games, also appearing in one contest for the Rochester Rattlers of MLL.
"Just like with Critch, we were shocked that Bender hadn't already been taken. He's got a big body, he can score, and he can open up some space on the left side."
After a strong year for the Excelsiors, Bender hopes to be able to step in and help the Bandits out right away.
"I'm willing to do whatever it takes to bring a championship back to Buffalo, where I think the fans are obviously waiting for a new one," Bender said.
The Bandits rounded out the draft by selecting Kevin Brownell (Robert Morris University) 22nd overall, Joel Matthews (University of Detroit Mercy) 31st and Wenster Green (Six Nations, Ont.) 40th overall.