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Transaction Tuesday: Whale busy early in offseason

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Al Saniuk

The 2017 offseason has gotten off to an intriguing start. The NWHL restricted free agency signing period opened, Team USA and Team Canada announced their centralization rosters and there have been major changes off the ice as well.

It’s time for The Ice Garden to catch you up on all of the major roster moves that have happened thus far in the 2017 offseason.


NWHL

Boston Pride

  • Centralization: Gigi Marvin, Kacey Bellamy, Alex Carpenter, Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Amanda Pelkey
  • Out: Blake Bolden (HC Lugano, Swiss League)
  • Re-signed: Lexi Bender
  • Signed: Kathyrn Tomaselli (practice player last season), Michaela Levine (practice player last season)
  • Front office: Thomas Poeck replaces Bobby Jay as head coach

There will be no replacing the talent that the Pride are losing to USA Hockey’s Pyeongchang camp. Bolden taking her talents overseas means that the Pride are losing three All-Star defenders on top of nearly two forward lines for next season.

Ironically the Pride might have a lot of trouble putting a full roster together for next season. Fate can be cruel.

Buffalo Beauts

  • Centralization: Emily Pfalzer, Megan Bozek
  • Out: Harrison Browne (retirement), Brianne McLaughlin (retirement), Ashley Vesci (retirement), Devon Skeats (retirement)

Defender Paige Harrington skated in the NWHL’s free agent camp as did former Beaut forward Hannah McGowan.

Connecticut Whale

  • Re-signed: Kelly Babstock, Elena Orlando, Cydney Roesler
  • Signed: Sydney Rossman (Quinnipiac), Shannon Doyle (practice player last season)

Shockingly, Kelli Stack was not selected for Team USA’s 23-woman roster. The same is true of both Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno. All three forwards played for the United States at the historic 2017 Women’s Worlds.

The Whale already have three defenders and a new goaltender under contract. It looks like Connecticut is looking to turn last season’s weakness into a strength.

Connor Murphy

New York Riveters

  • Centralization: Amanda Kessel
  • Pyeongchang-bound: Sojung Shin (Korea)
  • Out: Madison Packer (retirement)
  • Re-signed: Katie Fitzgerald, Tatiana Rafter, Rebecca Russo

Fitzgerald was the first NWHL player to re-sign in the RFA period. Rafter was the first player to sign a contract that would bring her back for a third NWHL season.


CWHL

Boston Blades

  • Out: Kayla Tutino (trade with Les Canadiennes)

Tara Watchorn wasn’t selected to Team Canada’s centralization roster. All signs point to the big defender playing for the Blades next season.

Brampton Thunder

  • Centralization: Laura Stacey, Laura Fortino, Jocelyn Larocque, Erica Howe (alternate)
  • Front office: Jim Jackson will replace 2016-17 Coach of the Year Tyler Fines as head coach

Howe will remain with the Thunder as an alternate goaltender for Team Canada. That’s good news for the Thunder who will be losing a lot of firepower to Team Canada’s camp.

Laine Schuck

Calgary Inferno

  • Centralization: Rebecca Johnston, Jill Saulnier, Bailey Bram, Brianne Jenner, Haley Irwin, Blayre Turnbull, Brigette Lacquette, Meaghan Mikkelson, Geneviève Lacasse, Emerance Maschmeyer (alternate)
  • Pyeongchang-bound: Iya Gavrilova (Russia), Akane Hosoyamada (Japan), Aina Takeuchi (Japan)

The Inferno won’t lose Maschmeyer to Canada’s Olympic camp because she’s (surprisingly) an alternate, but the team will still be gutted of most of its talent. Nine different Inferno players will be lost to centralization.

Les Canadiennes de Montreal

  • Centralization: Marie-Philip Poulin, Lauriane Rougeau
  • In: Kayla Tutino (trade with Boston Blades)
  • Out: Leslie Oles (EV Bomo Thun, Swiss League)

Caroline Ouellette was left off of Hockey Canada’s centralization roster after serving the program as a coach during the 2017 Women’s Worlds.

“I don’t think I was fast enough to play at this level any more,” Ouellette told the Globe and Mail. “Yes, I could have brought experience and leadership, but if you look at the U.S. and how talented they are, it’s not enough any more.”

Les Canadiennes are hoping that the soon to be 38-year-old forward has another season of CWHL hockey left in her. Montreal is also hoping to bring out the best in Tutino who came over to complete the trade that made Nachi Fujimoto a Boston Blade.

Michelle Jay

Toronto Furies

  • Centralization: Natalie Spooner, Renata Fast, Erin Ambrose
  • Pyeongchang-bound: Sena Suzuki (Japan)
  • Out: Kelly Terry (retirement)

The Furies are going to need some help on the blue line with both Fast and Ambrose competing with Canada.


Note: This piece was updated at 1:00pm ET to reflect three signings by the Boston Pride.