2016 NWHL Draft prospect profile: Ann-Renée Desbiens

The young Canadian has the potential to be the best goalie in the world.


As the fourth overall pick by the Boston Pride, Desbiens was the only goalie selected in the first four rounds of the 2016 NWHL draft. She, along with teammate Sarah Nurse, became the first of back-to-back Wisconsin Badgers selected by the Pride. Desbiens was the first Canadian player selected in the draft.


Ann-Renée Desbiens won a silver medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship playing for Team Canada.

She then went on to have one of the all-time greatest seasons in the NCAA. Leading the powerhouse Wisconsin Badgers, Desbiens set the all-time NCAA record with a .960 save percentage on her way to being named a first-team All-American and the WCHA Player of the Year. Her 20 shutouts on the season set another college hockey record for most in a season by either a man or woman. Add to that the all-time goals against average record (0.76) and Desbiens’ 2015-16 season has to be looked at as one of the best of all time.

2016-2017 NEWS

How would Ann-Renée Desbiens build off of a record breaking season? Well, she is trying to improve on it. The Badger netminder leads the NCAA in save percentage, goals against average and shutouts - with an astounding 10 shutouts in her 20 games played.

Her .957 save percentage is keeping the door open to break her own record from last year.

Despite battling a concussion in November and knee injury in December, she has returned to action after only a few weeks off and hasn’t missed a beat - recording two straight shutouts in her first games back against St. Cloud State.


“I feel like my teammates are doing a good job in front of me of keeping teams on the outside and keeping the puck in the offensive zone. There are games where I’ve gone 10 to 12 minutes without a shot. That can be tough for a goalie to keep focus, but I’ve gotten used to it and anyone who saw us play Minnesota knows it is a team effort.” -Desbiens will always defer to her teammates when praise is heaped on her.


Desbiens is looked at by many as the best young goaltender in the world and yet she will still have competition when it comes to finding time in the net if she chooses to head to Boston next season. The Pride are currently led by Brittany Ott who has been the best goaltender in the NWHL this season.

Thanks to Ott’s presence, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Desbiens took the route of Pride 2014 draft pick Emerance Maschmeyer and declared for the CWHL when her NCAA season is over.

Desbiens is a very technically sound goaltender who uses her size and positioning perfectly. She is strong at tracking the puck and as a result, she doesn’t often need to rely on her athleticism to help her recover on a broken play.

Some goalies have a hard time playing behind strong teams - they rely on a steady stream of shots in order to maintain the timing. Desbiens has no problem with that. Playing behind a team like Wisconsin, she is still able to maintain a record high save percentage while facing fewer shots than some others.