Roughnecks trade Sanderson

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:56 PM ET

Rarely does a team improve by trading its best offensive player.

The Calgary Roughnecks are hoping it happens to them again.

In a move that makes the Riggers much younger and saves them money, the team shipped left-handed offensive star Josh (Shooter) Sanderson to the Boston Blazers for a package of players.

The Riggers also made a separate deal sending defender Jeff Moleski to the Washington Stealth for a first-round draft pick in 2011.

Two years ago, the Riggers traded leading scorer Lewis Ratcliff to the Toronto Rock to get Sanderson, who is one of the best playmakers in league history.

It paid off as they won the Champion’s Cup the following season with Sanderson as the title game MVP. But the 33-year-old was a franchise player, meaning he made the National Lacrosse League maximum salary, plus he flew in from the Toronto area for home games.

“We want to be fiscally responsible and develop younger players,” said Riggers owner-GM Brad Banister. “We wanted some young blood in here.

“We are one of the few teams around that have stuck with the same players for years. It comes to a point where we need to make changes and try and win a championship with some other guys.”

Sanderson now heads to the NLL’s version of the Miami Heat, as the star playmaker joins big guns Casey Powell and Dan Dawson in Boston.

The Riggers get 2008 first-overall draft pick Daryl Veltman as the key part of the main deal.

The 24-year-old lefty had 23 goals and 42 assists last season for the Blazers. He’ll slide into Sanderson’s slot and will need to develop chemistry with young sniper Dane Dobbie.

“I know he’s not Josh, but he’s a 75-point per year guy,” Banister said. “We’re getting a top player in the league, and we’re happy about it.”

Also included in the trade are defenders Jon Harnett (22) and Kyle Ross (27), while the Riggers and Blazers swap first-round picks, with Calgary getting the third-overall selection and Boston taking the seventh pick.

Banister will likely use that third-overall pick to fill the hole left by the departure of Craig Conn on the left side of the offence. The Riggers also have the sixth and eighth picks.

Moving Moleski solves a travel headache. The rugged defender lives in Prince George, B.C., so getting him to Calgary to games was costly and time-consuming.

His loss is expected to be overcome by Thursday’s acquisition of defender Paul Dawson.

“He’s a real solid, straight-shooter, family guy, the type you want on your team,” Banister said. “Really, it was a struggle for him to get here and a struggle for us.”

Banister said telling Sanderson he was traded was one of the toughest moments in his time as Roughnecks owner.

“He talked me down from the cliff,” Banister said. “I was upset about it. He’s a standup guy. He knows this business and he knows we needed to get younger.

“He’s an expensive player but is well worth it ... Realistically we needed to get younger, faster and to change things up a little bit.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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