SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Swarm today selected G Anthony Cosmo in the first round (third overall) of the dispersal draft of Boston Blazers players. Cosmo posted a league-best 9.66 GAA last season and has a career record of 60-48 along with a .782 SV% and a 10.28 GAA in 11 seasons in the NLL.
Minnesota held back-to-back picks in the first round, but traded its fourth overall selection (F Josh Sanderson) along with D Nick Inch to the Toronto Rock in exchange for D Jeff Gilbert, the ninth overall selection in Friday’s dispersal draft, the #12 overall selection in the 2011 Entry Draft, and a 2012 first round selection.
In addition to acquiring Gilbert, the Swarm used its ensuing selections to strengthen its defense. The Swarm drafted T Greg Downing with the ninth overall pick and D Mitch Belisle in the second round (#13).
“Today was all about executing the plan that we put in place at the end of last season to reconfigure our team so that we could improve our chances of going beyond the first round of the playoffs in the future,” Owner and President John Arlotta said. “In that regard, we acquired an all-star goalie in Anthony Cosmo and also added some additional draft choices to bring in some talented, young players both this year and next year. On defense, we filled some holes by adding three quality, experienced defenders in Jeff Gilbert, Greg Downing and Mitch Belisle.”
Cosmo, 33, is a three time All-Star and was named the NLL Goalie of the Year in 2007 after he posted an 8-5 record and a .792 SV% in 16 games with San Jose.
“Anthony has been one of the elite goaltenders in our league over the past 10 years,” Arlotta said. “He is a guy that will have a real settling influence on what is going to be a young, athletic team in 2012. It’s not only about how many saves he has, but it’s also about the competitive drive and leadership that he brings to a team. He is one of those unique athletes that makes everyone around him better.”
Associate General Manager Joe Sullivan added, “Anthony brings a lot of intangibles to the Minnesota Swarm. His competitiveness is second to none and his fitness level is incredible to the point where he’s only missed two games in the past five years. Last year alone he allowed the fewest goals in the league, which was something we needed to work on defensively. He has 11 years of experience and with his leadership, he will give us a chance to win every night. The confidence he is going to instill in our young defense is irreplaceable.”
Along with Cosmo, Minnesota still has nine-year veteran G Nick Patterson on the roster.
“I spoke to Nick last night and told him that if the opportunity was there, we would welcome Anthony to the club,” Sullivan said. “I wanted to let him know that it was only to make us better and Nick seemed 100-percent behind the idea of making us a better team in the process.”
Gilbert, 28, recorded four points (1g, 3a) and collected 55 loose balls in 15 games with the 2011 champion Toronto Rock last season. In his three seasons in the NLL, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound defenseman has only missed one regular game and has played in two Champion Cups.
“Jeff is an athletic, fit player who helped lead his summer team to their best season in eight years,” Sullivan said. “He’s been involved on a team (Toronto) that has made deep runs into the playoffs, which includes making it to the finals each of the last two years.”
Downing, 26, registered four assists, forced 11 turnovers and collected 78 loose balls in 16 games with the Blazers in 2011. Downing was tied for the team lead with 101 loose balls in 2010. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound transition specialist appeared in a total of 45 games with the Blazers in three seasons, posting 33 points (5g, 28a), and 179 loose balls.
Belisle, 25, recorded four points (2g, 2a), 14 forced turnovers and collected 70 loose balls in 16 games with Boston in 2011. Belisle was tied for the team lead in loose balls with 101 in 2010. In his four-year career with Boston and New York, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound defenseman has recorded 22 points (9g, 13a), and 171 loose balls in 60 games.
Sullivan said the addition of Gilbert, Downing and Belisle, will only make the team’s defense stronger next season with their ability to collect loose balls.
“One of the big things that we tried to focus on last year was some of the smaller attributes our defensive players needed to have and loose balls was one area that we ranked near the bottom of the league in,” he said. “Each player that we picked up was a Top 5 guy on their respective team in loose balls. For us, that’s a big stat that we wanted to improve upon. Belisle and Downing have both done an excellent job collecting loose balls with Boston and Gilbert has averaged around 60 loose balls a year.”
Minnesota finished the draft selecting D Jason Duboe in the third round (#22) and D Tyler Collins in the fourth round (#30).
In the trade with Toronto, Minnesota parted ways with Inch, who spent four seasons with the Swarm and dished out seven assists and tallied 61 loose balls in 44 career games.
“Nick is going to be missed, but this is a great situation for him,” Sullivan said. “He’s an Ontario guy and he lives only an hour away from Toronto. He’s brought a lot of energy to Minnesota and a lot of team leadership.”
At the conclusion of Friday’s dispersal draft, members of the Swarm’s front office were pleased the day’s results.
“We’re very excited with how things turned out today,” Sullivan said. “We just got one of the best goalies in the league who is a proven winner. We were then able to turn around and shore up with some size and loose ball ability both on the left and right-handed side of our defense as well as better ourselves in the future by adding two future draft picks. It was an incredible 15 minutes for the Minnesota Swarm.”
Up next for the Swarm is the 2011 Entry Draft, which will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 21 in Toronto.
“I’m really excited about the entry draft where we now hold the #4, #6, and #12 picks in what is considered to be one of the best drafts in recent memory,” Arlotta said. “Regardless of who we get with our top three picks, we will be adding players who will be able to play right away for us.”
Dispersal Draft Recap
3. Minnesota (from Colorado) - Anthony Cosmo
4. Minnesota - Josh Sanderson (traded to Toronto)
9. Toronto - (Trades the selection, plus the 12th overall selection in the 2011 Entry Draft, a first round selection in the 2012 Entry Draft, and Jeff Gilbert to the Minnesota Swarm for Josh Sanderson and Nick Inch). With the 9th selection in the dispersal draft, Minnesota selects Greg Downing.
13. Minnesota - Mitch Belisle
22. Minnesota - Jason Duboe
30. Minnesota - Tyler Collins
36. Minnesota - PASS
For complete dispersal draft results visit nll.com