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News: NWHL announces plans for third season

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New York Riveters Media Day Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Today the NWHL issued a press release that announced plans for setting the league’s third season into motion.

The restricted free agent signing period, the unrestricted free agent signing period and the date of the third NWHL Draft have all been set. In other words - the 2017 NWHL offseason has been set into motion.

From the press league’s press release this morning:

April 11, 2017, Brooklyn, NY – Preparations have already begun for Season 3 of the National Women’s Hockey League. Today, the league has confirmed the upcoming dates for the Draft and free agency periods and has opened registration for prospective players.

Here are the details:

Restricted Free Agency Period: May 1 – May 31, 2017

Teams can re-sign players from their 2016-17 roster and draft selections

Unrestricted Agency: Begins June 1, 2017

NWHL Draft: August 17, 2017

Prospective players can register for the NWHL draft today. The only major qualification is that the players have “graduated college or an equivalent”.

The press release also revealed that all four founding franchises will return. What the impact of centralization in the Olympic year will be remains to be seen, but we should expect to see a very different Boston Pride roster.

The 2017-18 NWHL regular season is set to begin in October. Season 3 features the return of the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters. In addition to a full slate of home games in their markets, each team will be featured in games at a handful of neutral sites.

A “handful” of games at neutral sites just might be the league’s way of testing hockey markets for potential expansion as well as a way to grow its audience. What that means for the home schedules of the four franchises is uncertain.