Saskatchewan Rush trade Ben McIntosh to Philadelphia Wings in blockbuster deal

Saskatchewan Rush trade Ben McIntosh to Philadelphia Wings in blockbuster deal
WATCH: The Saskatchewan Rush have dealt forward Ben McIntosh and a trio of draft picks to the Philadelphia Wings in exchange for forward Josh Currier and two first-round picks.

The Saskatchewan Rush have made a blockbuster trade on the eve of National Lacrosse League free agency.

The Rush are sending forward Ben McIntosh to the Philadelphia Wings along with a trio of draft picks in exchange for forward Josh Currier, the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft and a first-round selection in 2021.

Read more: Saskatchewan Rush re-sign pending free agents Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil

McIntosh was drafted first overall by the Rush in 2014 and has been one of the team’s top point producers over the course of his six NLL seasons with 212 goals and 182 assists in 99 regular-season games. The 29-year-old added 35 goals and 27 assists in 18 playoff games.

The trade was not an easy one to make for Rush general manager and head coach Derek Keenan.

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“Really, really difficult, because we try to bring in good people and obviously Benny, he’s a great player. He’s arguably the best power forward, definitely the best power forward right-hander in the NLL. But mostly he’s a great person and he’ll be really missed by me, selfishly, and I know by our guys in the locker room,” Keenan said.

But with the prospect of having nine unrestricted free agents on their roster after next season, the Rush needed to make a move for the long-term.

“We looked at, ‘Where are we going to get the most value right now?'” Keenan said.

“The team needs to get back to where we’re going to build through the draft again and now over the next two years we’ve got four first-round picks.”

In addition to McIntosh, the Rush have dealt the Wings two second-round selections in this year’s draft as well as a conditional second-round pick in 2023. The 2020 selections, which will be 34th and 35th overall in the draft, are compensatory picks that Saskatchewan was awarded after veteran defenders Brett Mydske and Scott Campbell signed with other teams prior to last season.

Read more: National Lacrosse League cancels playoffs, turns attention to 2020-21 season

The 27-year-old Currier comes to Saskatchewan after spending the last two seasons in Philadelphia, where he put up 51 goals and 46 assists in 32 games. He was originally drafted sixth overall in 2016 by the Rochester Knighthawks before being selected by the Wings in the 2018 NLL Expansion Draft.

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Keenan thinks Currier will be a good fit in a Rush offence known for its unselfishness.

“He’s a really good off-ball player, sets excellent picks, has great feet, very quick, and he can create his own shot,” Keenan said.

The Rush general manager also thinks Currier has the potential to blossom even further with the three-time NLL champions, playing alongside the likes of Mark Matthews, Robert Church, Jeff Shattler and Ryan Keenan.

“I think he’s not seen his best yet. I think right now he’s probably 75, 80 per cent of the player he could be and perhaps with our offence he’s going to reach his 100 per cent,” the GM said.

The National Lacrosse League free agency period begins on Aug. 1 but the Rush may not be done dealing just yet. Regardless of what may happen, however, Keenan is pleased with the return for McIntosh.

“I could try and find another big righty and that may happen. We’ll see, but (Currier) is a dynamic player and that fits what we’re going to do,” he said.

Saskatchewan Rush re-sign pending free agent Kyle Rubisch
Saskatchewan Rush re-sign pending free agent Kyle Rubisch