BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo Bandits took a step toward finding their goaltender of the future, acquiring 2022 All-Rookie netminder Steve Orleman from the New York Riptide in a three-way trade Wednesday.
The Bandits sent a 2026 third-round pick to New York and forward Nathaniel Kozevnikov to the Saskatchewan Rush in exchange for Orleman and New York’s second-round picks in 2024 and 2025. Saskatchewan sent forward Austin Madronic to the Riptide to complete the three-team swap pending approval from the NLL.
Orleman, 24, is coming off his second NLL season. The 19th overall pick in 2018 enjoyed an All-Rookie season in 2022, besting the NLL rookie goaltending record for minutes played as well as saves with 656 while posting a 12.10 goals-against average. His 2023 was less consistent, however, with Orleman posting a 3-8 record and making 486 saves in 667 minutes of play and eventually ceding the crease to Cameron Dunkerley down the stretch.
While Orleman filled a leading role for parts of his tenure with the Riptide, who finished seventh among eight teams in the league’s East conference last season, he will not be thrust into a starting role in Buffalo. Just last month, the Bandits locked up goalie Matt Vinc, the NLL’s all-time leader in wins, saves and minutes played, on a two-year contract.
The 41-year-old Vinc was in fine form in 2022-23 — his 17th NLL season — leading the league in wins, with 14, and saves, with 742. He had a lights-out run in the playoffs, producing a remarkable 8.82 goals-against average over six games with just one loss. In the decisive game of the championship series this June, Vinc backstopped Buffalo to its first title since 2008 while allowing just 4 goals.
With Vinc under contract and continuing to produce at league-leading levels despite his advanced age by professional sports standards, the Canisius grad will not be rushed out from between the Bandits’ pipes any time soon, Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich told News 4 in a phone interview.
Trading for Orleman allows the Buffalo to have a netminder with plenty of quality experience under his belt to compete for the No. 2 spot in the short term, while also looking ahead to an eventual feature without the ageless wonder.
For now, Dietrich says, “Nothing changes. [Vinc] is the starter.”
While Orleman will not be expected to carry the load when next season starts, Dietrich is confident that the 24-year-old will bounce back from his disappointing 2022-23 results. Dietrich said he has known the Kitchener, Ontario native since he was 7 years old, and he trusts his character and work ethic will allow him to put his best foot forward.
“I know last year didn’t sit right with him,” Dietrich said.
With Vinc firmly entrenched as the Bandits starter, Orleman will have to compete for the backup role with fellow 24-year-old Devlin Shanahan, who was signed by the team in 2021 and had a 76% save percentage over 40 minutes of play in relief of Vinc in 2022-23. Though Orleman has seen more NLL minutes, that does not mean he’s automatically jumping Shanahan in the pecking order.
“We still firmly believe in Devin Shanahan,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich said the goaltender position is arguably the most important in the sport, and having two quality young options competing for playing time will only help them both be ready if or when they are called to ascend to the starring role. Certainly, the influence of Vinc and goaltending coach Anthony Cosmo — who broke records himself as the Bandit’s goaltender from 2012-17 — doesn’t hurt either.
“These two guys [Orleman and Shanahan] are going to learn from two of the best to ever play the position,” Dietrich said.
In other Bandits news on Wednesday, the team signed defenseman Cam Wyers, 2022 first-round draft pick, to a two-year deal.
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.