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Transaction Tuesday: Buffalo Starting to Build

The Buffalo Beauts celebrating their 2017 Isobel Cup victory.
Al Saniuk

It’s time for our third installment of Transaction Tuesday - catching you up on all offseason moves made by teams in the NWHL and CWHL.

Note: All developments that have taken place in the last two weeks are noted in bold text.

NWHL

  • Hayley Moore has been named the league’s deputy commissioner and director of player development.

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, Jordan Smelker, Jillian Dempsey, Mary Parker, Emily Field
  • Signed: Kathyrn Tomaselli (practice player last season), Michaela Levine (practice player last season), Kaliya Johnson, Janine Weber, Brianna Laing, Paige Savage
  • Front office: Thomas Poeck replaces Bobby Jay as head coach, Hayley Moore will leave her post as the team’s general manager

Harvard goaltender Brianna Laing is the Pride’s only goaltender under contract. That means that either Brittany Ott or Lauren Slebodnick (or both of them) will be parting ways with the team. Brianna Laing is the second Laing sister to wear a Pride jersey, her sister Denna played for the team before suffering a severe spinal cord injury.

Laing is one of two rookie goaltenders who have signed with NWHL teams. The other is Sydney Rossman of the Connecticut Whale. Boston also added rookie forward Paige Savage from Northeastern. Savage was originally a pick of the Connecticut Whale.

The other big move made by Boston in the last two weeks was the Janine Weber signing. Weber led the Riveters in scoring last season. She will be reunited with a few teammates from the 2014-15 Boston Blades team she won a Clarkson Cup with in the CWHL.

Buffalo Beauts

  • Centralization: Emily Pfalzer, Megan Bozek
  • Re-signed: Corinne Buie, Amanda Leveille, Sarah Casorso, Jordyn Burns, Hayley Scamurra
  • Signed: Kelsey Neumann (practice player last season), Jordan Ott, Kayla Parsons (practice player last season)
  • Out: Harrison Browne (retirement), Brianne McLaughlin (retirement), Ashley Vesci (retirement), Devon Skeats (retirement), Shiann Darkangelo, Emily Janiga

Darkangelo and Janiga have both registered for the 2017 CWHL Draft. Their time with the Beauts isn’t officially over, but it isn’t looking good.

Thankfully for Buffalo fans, the Beauts have been busy.

The Beauts re-signed 2017 Isobel Cup Playoff standout Amanda Leveille. The former Golden Gopher is expected to be the team’s starting goaltender, backed up by Kelsey Neumann.

Leveille returning to her crease in a game against the Riveters in Newark, New Jersey.
Connor Murphy

Buffalo now has three forwards and three defenders under contract. Casorso and Burns are being brought back to play on the blue line. They should bring some punch to a defense that will deeply miss Pfalzer and Bozek.

As for the offense- Buie and Scamurra are joined by Potsdam alumna Jordan Ott. There’s been no concrete news on whether or not Kourtney Kunichika or Kelley Steadman are returning. Re-signing them will be crucial with Darkangelo and Janiga moving on.

Connecticut Whale

  • Re-signed: Kelly Babstock, Elena Orlando, Cydney Roesler, Juana Baribeau
  • Signed: Sydney Rossman (Quinnipiac), Shannon Doyle (practice player last season), Anya Battaglino (practice player last season), Rachael Ade
  • Out: Kelli Stack (Kunlun Red Star, CWHL), Kaliya Johnson (Boston Pride), Zoe Hickel (Kunlun Red Star, CWHL)

The Baribeau signing was a step in the right direction for Connecticut. She failed to register a point in eight games last season, but proved valuable playing both forward and defense. Connecticut also added rookie defender Rachael Ade from Vermont. Ade had a strong free agent camp in Boston and a standout seven-goal senior season with the Catamounts.

The Whale are going to depend on some big performances from practice players from the 2016-17 season to be a competitive club next season. Connecticut has the fewest players signed in the NWHL. Losing a second star forward to Kunlun Red Star was a devastating blow.

Hickel digging for a loose puck at the top of Brittany Ott’s crease.
Al Saniuk

Now all eyes are on UFAs Haley Skarupa and Dana Trivigno. With so few national team-caliber players left in the league, both American forwards are coveted by all four of the NWHL’s teams.

New York Riveters

  • Centralization: Amanda Kessel
  • Pyeongchang-bound: Sojung Shin (Korea)
  • Out: Madison Packer (retirement), Janine Weber (Pride)
  • Re-signed: Katie Fitzgerald, Tatiana Rafter, Rebecca Russo, Alexa Gruschow, Miye D’Oench, Kiira Dosdall, Lauren Wash, Ashley Johnston
  • Signed: Sarah Bryant (practice player last season), Cheeky Herr (practice player last season), Lindsey Hylwa

The loss of Weber will test the Riveters depth at center. For the moment Gruschow and Rafter are the team’s two centers. Finding a player who can replace Weber’s speed, vision and two-way game will be close to impossible.

Janine Weber scoring a big goal against her 2017-18 team.
Mike Murphy

It looks like the Riveters have found their third line center in RPI graduate Lindsey Hylwa. Hylwa was the Engineers captain last season and has shared ice with both Gruschow and Wash at Rensselaer.

CWHL

Boston Blades

  • Out: Kayla Tutino (trade with Les Canadiennes)

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

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)

Kunlun Red Star

  • In: Kelli Stack, Noora Räty, Zoe Hickel, Melanie Jue, Brooke Webster
  • Front Office: Digit Murphy - head coach, Rob Morgan - associate coach

Former Pride and Whale forward Zoe Hickel has agreed to terms with Kunlun and has registered for the 2017 CWHL Draft. Like Stack she has ties to the USWNT but did not make the centralization roster.

Cornell alumna Melanie Jue announced via social media that she will be playing with Kunlun next season. Jue registered for the 2017 CWHL Draft. She has been an assistant coach with Lindenwood for the last two seasons, but has chosen to come out of retirement to play in the CWHL. Jue played both defense and forward with the Big Red, she last played college hockey in the 2009-10 season.

Hickel and Jue will be joined by St. Lawrence University star Brooke Webster. Webster is a dynamic forward who put up 57 points in 36 games. She was a Patty Kazmaier Top Ten Finalist.

“I had to think a little bit at first,” Webster admitted to John Cudmore of YorkRegion.com. “Going to China seemed crazy and I wasn’t so into it. I had never seen myself going there. I was worried about being in a different country and the culture shock. Now that I know there will be other North Americans going, that helps.”

Will Kunlun be adding Shiann Darkangelo to its ranks? The Beauts star power forward has registered for the 2017 CWHL Draft and Kunlun is a logical fit. She would be the third former USWNT player to sign on to be a player-ambassador with the CWHL’s Chinese expansion team.

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)

Toronto Furies

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