Rush sign first real superstar

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

It didn't take long for the Edmonton Rush's new head coach and general manager to get to work.

Yesterday -- a day after the announcement of his hiring -- Derek Keenan acquired the services of one of the National Lacrosse League's best players and then pulled the trigger on a major trade.

Keenan selected Brodie Merrill with the first pick in the dispersal draft from the Portland LumberJax, who will cease operations for the upcoming season.

Merrill, 27, a native of Orangeville, Ont., is regarded as one of the best players in the NLL.

He was the top pick in the 2005 Entry Draft, and then went on to win the league's rookie of the year and defensive player of the year award.

A four-time all-star, he had 14 goals, 33 assists and a career-high 216 loose balls last season.

"He brings the first superstar lacrosse player to Edmonton, that's first and foremost," said Keenan. "He's probably one of the top two or three players in the league overall -- certainly No. 1 in my mind -- as far as overall ability and overall impact.

'BRINGS CREDIBILITY'

"He also brings credibility to the team and accountability to the team. One thing about him, is when he comes to camp in November, he'll be the fittest guy and hardest working guy on the floor and that just raises the level of everybody else."

Along with Merrill, the Rush selected goaltender Matt Disher -- who'll be making a return to Edmonton -- and defenceman Pat Jones in the draft.

Then following the draft, Keenan completed a multi-player trade with the Minnesota Swarm, sending forward Ryan Benesch, defenceman Scott Self and a first-round pick in the upcoming Entry draft for forwards Scott Stewart, Ryan Ward, Justin Norbraten and defenceman Richard Morgan.

"We gave up some guys that you don't want to give up because they're marquee players themselves, but we got some very good players in return," said Keenan.

"Ryan Ward is a premier right-handed offensive guy in our league. He was a guy that I honestly never thought I would get."


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