Saint Paul, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm today signed F Pat Saunders and D Nik Bilic to two-year contracts.
Saunders, 22, recorded 33 points (18g, 15a) in 15 games with the WLA’s Langley Thunder in 2011. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward posted a season-high four goals at Victoria on July 15. In 2010, Saunders was teammates with Andrew Suitor on the 2010 Minto Cup runner-up Orangeville Northmen and tallied a team-high 50 goals. As a member of the Rochester Knighthawks in 2009, Saunders appeared in one contest.
“Pat is a young guy who has had a few different tryouts with teams in the NLL,” Associate General Manager Joe Sullivan said. “He’s been on the cusp of becoming a full-time player in the NLL. He’s had incredible success in the Ontario Junior “A” league with Orangeville where he was teammates with Andrew Suitor. Pat has a great outside shot and he’s going to bring a dynamic to help free up Ryan Benesch. He’s a guy that’s going to come in and challenge for a position.”
Bilic, 21, registered 13 points (6g, 7a) in 18 games with the WLA’s Langley Thunder this summer. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound defenseman spent the 2009-10 seasons in the B.C. Junior “A’ Lacrosse League. In 2010, Bilic recorded 31 points (15g, 16a) in 19 games with the Burnaby Lakers and Coquitlam Adanacs. He posted 16 points (9g, 7a) in 16 games with the Lakers in 2009. The Calgary Roughnecks drafted Bilic in the fourth round (39th overall) in the 2010 NLL Entry Draft, but released him in training camp.
“Nik is a talented right-handed defensive player that can also transition the ball well,” Sullivan said. “He brings a go-go energy that could suit the Swarm’s style of play instantly. He was drafted by Calgary last year and we are now lucky enough to be able to obtain his rights in Minnesota.”
Director of Western Scouting Jake Elliott added, “Nik has the ability to be a shut down defender and the potential to be one of the best transition players in the game in the near future. Nik comes from a winning program in Junior “A” with the Coquitlam Adanacs where he was instrumental in winning a Minto Cup last year. I’m very excited to see how Nik competes in camp with our already strong right side on defense and transition.