PWHL inaugural draft is here — College hockey on the way — Must-click women’s hockey links
The IX: Hockey Friday with The Ice Garden, Sept. 15, 2023
It’s Friday so you know what that means: Hockey Friday at The IX. The Ice Garden’s Michelle Jay here to catch you up on some college hockey news as their season is about to get underway, and prep you for the PWHL Draft!
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The PWHL train keeps chugging along and next stop is the draft!
The inaugural draft is set for Monday, Sept. 18 (aka in a few days!) at 1 p.m. ET at CBC’s headquarters in downtown Toronto. It will be 15 rounds in a snake format, so 90 players will be picked on Monday afternoon.
The PWHL Draft will live streamed in Canada on the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, the CBC Sports app, radio-canada.ca/sports and the Radio-Canada info app. Outside of Canada, fans can watch on the CBC Sports’ and Radio-Canada’s YouTube pages. The first four rounds will be hosted by CBC Sports’ Andi Petrillo, with analysis from Hailey Salvian and Shannon Szabados, and player interviews conducted stage-side by CBC Sports’ Anastasia Bucsis.
The event itself is closed to fans, but if you’re local, the PWHL is inviting fans to the pre-draft purple carpet walk. Interested fans should check in at the CBC entrance before noon as the entrances are planned for noon to 1 p.m. ET.
The draft is an in-person event for the players. Per Hailey Salvian, the league is paying 50 players travel and accommodations to attend the draft and other media and promotional events. Salvian mentions in her article with The Athletic that it’s common practice to pay for top prospects to attend drafts. All players were invited to the draft as well.
Who will we see picked?
Players had to declare for the draft and, on Wednesday, the PWHL released a list of 268 players who did so. The list does include any player who applied for a compassionate circumstance wavier, which allowed players to designate which cities they would be able to play in based on their specific situation. After the 90 players are picked, the remaining players will be able to try out for teams.
Let’s take a closer look at the list, shall we?
Based on the data the league provided, here’s a quick overview on PWHL Draft prospects:
- 146 forwards, 78 defenders, 44 goaltenders
- 17 different countries are represented, with Canada leading the way with 141 players. The US has 89 players.
- The oldest declared player is Gigi Marvin, who is 36.
- The youngest declared player is Lilly Legault, who is 16, and is listed as playing in the Ontario Women’s Hockey League U18 AA on her Elite Prospect page.
- 212 players played in the NCAA, 40 played in USPORT and 16 players didn’t play North American college/university hockey.
- 60 different NCAA and USPORT programs are represented. Minnesota-Duluth leads the way 15 alumni declared while Minnesota and Wisconsin have 14 each. In USPORTS, McGill has 7 players declared.
- Players played in 14 different leagues last season, with 31 players not active as well. The leaders were PHF with 98 players, PWHPA with 63 and 41 from the NCAA.
In my opinion, this is the hardest draft to predict or do a mock draft for (though Shayna Goldman and Hailey Salvian did one over at The Athletic!) because it’s the first time players can basically be picked anywhere, and most (though not all) will have the opportunity to make a full-time salary playing women’s hockey. Teams only have announced general managers — not head coaches — so there’s not a ton of clues as to how they will build teams.
I’m also not a draft nor a team building type of person. I leave that to people much smarter (like TIG’s own Carlie Markey who used data to project contract values and help build a team), but here are my stray thoughts.
The prevailing thought seems to be that Taylor Heise, standout NCAA and Team USA forward, will be the first pick for Minnesota. It make sense. Heise is a Patty Kazmaier winner who is from Minnesota and played her college hockey in Minnesota and if there’s anything we know about the State of Hockey, it’s that they love to keep their home-grown talent close.
From there, the order gets interesting. Obviously the Canadian and US National Team players are extremely appealing — they are the only players who were picked in the initial free agency period. But there’s a plethora of big name players from other national teams out there. I think Alina Müller will be the first player from outside of North American to be picked. She played college hockey at Northeastern University in Boston, and was signed to the Boston Pride in the PHF, so her ties to Boston are strong. Boston picks third and, unless Toronto snaps her up, I think she’ll go there.
Forty-four goaltenders is a lot of goalies for only a few teams, especially considering half of the teams already have one goaltender signed. That only really leaves nine — 15 spots (nine if teams only carry two goalies and up to 15 if all carry three). I honestly don’t even know who the first goaltender to be drafted will be nor where they will be drafted, so we’ll just have to see on Monday afternoon won’t we!
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NCAA teams are starting to take the ice for practices and media days, so here’s a quick round up of interesting things around the college hockey world…
An early look at the 2023-24 Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey roster — Duluth News Tribune
- This one is especially exciting because for the first time the women’s Beanpot — an annual tournament featuring Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and Harvard — will be played at TD Garden, instead of the usual rotation of campus sites!
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