Lakers add La Roue and Vela through player protection

The Western Lacrosse Association released teams' Graduating Junior Territorial Protections today. The Lakers are thrilled to announce their picks: Sam La Roue and Thomas Vela.

La Roue was drafted first overall by the Burnaby Lakers in the 2019 BC Junior A Lacrosse League Entry Draft as a 16-year-old. He tallied 15 goals and 25 assists after debuting with the Lakers and finishing the season with the New Westminster Salmonbellies. Since his rookie year, La Roue has played with the Junior Lakers and Salmonbellies, and has been called up to play with the Senior A Lakers, Salmonbellies, Adanacs, and Thunder. He was selected by the Buffalo Bandits in the second round (19th overall) of the 2020 NLL Entry Draft and has remained on their roster, winning the NLL Championship with them in 2023. A proud multi-sport athlete, La Roue plays football for the University of Western Ontario. He calls South Surrey home, he shoots right, and he's looking forward to joining older brother Butch La Roue in the Lakers lineup. “I’m very excited about being protected by the Lakers. I had a great experience playing for the Junior A team and I'm grateful to remain part of the program. I’m bringing my full commitment and a team-first attitude to the group.” 


Burnaby native Vela played the majority of the 2022 season with the Junior Lakers, leading the league with 36 goals and 35 assists in 14 games, and recorded 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) as a call-up in 6 Senior A games.  He was traded to the Victoria Junior Shamrocks at the trade deadline and played with them for the first round of the playoffs. Vela was awarded co-winner of the 2022 Bob Reid Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement and was named to the 2022 BCJALL All-Star Team. He was drafted by the Rochester Knighthawks 25th overall in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft, was traded to the Calgary Roughnecks during the 2023 NLL Entry Draft, and was traded to the Colorado Mammoth in January 2024. "As a kid who grew up playing lacrosse in Burnaby, being a Senior Laker has always been a dream of mine," said Vela. "I'm super excited to finally join the team and help out on offense. l can't wait to bring a Mann Cup to Burnaby."


The strength of the Junior Lakers' organization and the quality of players it produces made it challenging to narrow the protection picks down to two players. "Sam has the ability to play offence and defence at a high caliber, and those traits do not come along very often. Sam‘s size, speed, and skill will be valuable additions to our organization," said Lakers GM, Kevin Hill. "Thomas is one of the most complete offensive players that was draft eligible. The Lakers are excited and looking forward to having him in our lineup this coming season. He has a very high lacrosse IQ and has proven to be an offensive threat at every level."  


The Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) has scheduled its 2024 Graduating Junior Draft for Tuesday, February 6th at 7:00 p.m. The WLA will be hosting its draft of B.C.'s top 21-year-old players live from the Langley Events Centre. The draft will be webcast live and available virtually to lacrosse fans throughout North America. Longtime lacrosse play-by-play broadcaster, Jake Elliott, will host the draft and a representative from each team will also appear by video link along with WLA Commissioner, Paul Dal Monte.

Draft results will be presented live on and on official WLA social media channels. Follow @burnabylakers on Instagram and use the hashtags #WLADraft2024 and #YearoftheDragon to participate in the conversation.