BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Bandits will return to KeyBank Center in December, seeking to repeat after capturing the Champions Cup for the first time in 15 years.
General manager Steve Dietrich and his staff are working to fill out a roster they hope will lift Buffalo to its first back-to-back championships since 1992-93 — the first two years of the franchise.
Here’s a timeline of every move the team has made so far:
Bandits trade away first round pick; Goalie, Buffalo native headline draft class
For the second year in a row, the Bandits draft class includes some local products.
The team traded away its first-round pick to Rochester in exchange for a first-rounder in the 2024 draft, making goaltender Evan Constantopoulos Buffalo’s first pick of the night in the second round at 38th overall. The Oakville, Ontario native ranked fourth in both goals against average and save percentage among goalies that played at least 15 games in the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League last year.
Buffalo also traded its sixth-round pick to Las Vegas in return for the Desert Dogs’ sixth-round pick next year.
The Bandits also selected:
- Third round (53rd overall): Forward Jake Rosa, who played four seasons at nearby St. Bonaventure and was the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2021.
- Fourth round (68th overall): Forward Kellen Pulera, a Buffalo native who played four seasons at Marist College and registered 79 points during a stint in a feeder league cosponsored by the Bandits and the Terry Pegula-owned Rochester Knighthawks called the Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League.
- Fifth round (82nd overall): Defenseman Duncan Carte, a Hamilton, Ontario native who played for the Brampton Express in the Arena Lacrosse league in 2022-23.
2020 first-round pick re-signs on two-year deal
The Bandits announced forward Brad McCulley was re-signed on a two-year contract. The British Columbia native will enter his third year with Buffalo after besting his career highs in goals (11), assists (20) and points (31) last season. He was the Bandits’ ninth overall pick out of Robert Morris University in 2020.
Trio of rookies with local ties headline run of signings
On Sept. 11, the Bandits signed transition player Austin Blumbergs, a 2022 fifth-round pick from St. Bonaventure, to a two-year deal. Blumbergs tallied 54 goals and 12 assists in five years with the Bonnies and played for two seasons in the UCBLL.
Buffalo also signed another 2022 fifth-round choice who was taken six spots earlier, East Aurora’s Christian Watts, to a two-year deal. Watts was a UCBLL standout, having finished his career with a league-record 115 points after leading the league in points for two consecutive seasons.
On Sept. 8, the Bandits signed two-year contracts with a pair of rookie defensemen who, like Blumbergs, have ties to nearby universities.
Zack Belter, a Wheatfield native who finished a five-year career with St. Bonaventure as the Bonnies’ all-time leader in turnovers caused, was signed after being drafted in the first round of the 2022 draft.
Ryan Sharkey, Buffalo’s pick in the fourth round of the same draft, signed following a collegiate career in which he spent four years at Canisius University before transferring to Massachusetts for a final year. Sharkey played two seasons in the Bandits and Knighthawks collegiate league.
First-round pick signs, Bandits trade for depth goalie
On Sept. 6, Buffalo inked Canadian defenseman Cam Wyers, the team’s 2022 13th-overall pick out of Loyola University, to a two-year deal.
The Bandits also acquired goaltender Steve Orleman from the New York Riptide in a three-team trade that also involved the Saskatchewan Rush.
- Buffalo received Orleman and a 2025 second-round draft pick from New York.
- Saskatchewan received forward Nathaniel Kozevnikov from Buffalo.
- New York received a 2026 third-round pick from Buffalo.
Robinson returns following career year
On Aug. 14, the Bandits extended forward Brandon Robinson, who tallied a career high in goals (13), assists (8) and points (21) in 2022-23, on a one-year contract.
Legendary goalie Vinc, defenseman Bomberry return
On Aug. 11, Buffalo resigned Matt Vinc, the winningest goalie in Bandits history and the all-time NLL leader in minutes played, to a two-year extension.
In addition, Buffalo re-signed defenseman Adam Bomberry, who appeared in nine games with the Bandits last season after being acquired in a January trade. Bomberry has totaled 44 points and 347 loose ball recoveries over 65 career games with Buffalo, Rochester, New England and Albany.
Buchanan re-signed for year 3
The Bandits announced on Aug. 8 that star forward Kyle Buchanan, who tied for third on the team in goals and placed third in assists and points last year, will return for his third season in Buffalo. In addition to the Bandits, the 10-year veteran has had stints with San Diego, New England, Philadelphia and Washington, ranking top-five in team scoring the past nine seasons. Buchannan, 35, recorded 58 points last season and added 21 points in six playoff games en route to the title.
Young defensemen extends
On Aug. 3, the Bandits re-signed defenseman Carter McKenzie for one year. The 23-year-old played 12 games for Buffalo last year after spending his rookie season with Calgary in 2021.
Alternate captain Weiss signs on for ninth season
Buffalo signed a one-year pact to extend the tenure of its alternate captain, transition player Nick Weiss, on Aug. 1. The 31-year-old enters his ninth season with the Bandits coming off a 2022-23 that saw the 31-year-old Ontario native contribute six goals and 14 assists in the regular season and five assists in the playoffs. His 14 regular season assists were a career best, as were his 117 loose ball recoveries.
The Bandits also re-signed defensemen Justin Martin and Bryce Sweeting on one-year deals. Martin, Buffalo’s 13th-overall draft pick in 2016, appeared in all regular season and playoff contests last season and is entering his seventh season. Sweeting enters his fifth season in Buffalo and has tallied 13 points and 182 loose ball recoveries since he joined the team in 2018.
Captain Priolo, chasing team records, runs it back
On July 31, Buffalo re-signed its longest tenured player, captain Steve Priolo, to a one-year extension for what will be his 14th year in Buffalo. The 34-year-old defenseman recorded 19 points (three goals and 16 assists) and recovered a career high 143 loose balls in 2022. Also in 2022, Priolo set a career single-season record with 67 penalty minutes to propel him to second all-time in Bandits history in the metric. His place in the Bandits record books doesn’t end there: Priolo is third all-time in games played with Buffalo at 200 and second in loose ball recoveries with 1,217.
Young forward signs
On July 29, the Bandits inked second-year forward Nathaniel Kozevnikov to a two-year deal after he appeared in three games for the team in 2022. He was dealt away from the team in September as part of a three-way trade in which Buffalo acquired goaltender Steve Orleman.
Local transition vet Brown brought back
On July 27, Buffalo signed veteran transition player Frank Brown to a one-year contract to extend his Buffalo tenure to a fourth season. The 29-year-old Salamanca native scored once and recovered 10 loose balls over four games in the regular season last year and added a goal, an assist and 32 loose ball recoveries in the playoffs.
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.