The Connecticut Whale became the first team to dip their toe into the extended NWHL signing period on Tuesday afternoon when they announced that 2017 NWHL draft pick Sam Donovan has signed with the team. The Whale selected Donovan with its first pick (5th overall) of the 2017 NWHL College Draft.
Donovan brings a two-way game that the Whale tend to like, given the increased roles for players such as Amanda Boulier and mid-season acquisition Hanna Beattie. “Sam is a player we have felt very strongly about for a long period of time, and are excited to welcome her to the Pod,” said Whale head coach Ryan Equale via the league press release.
The Minnesota native finished her Brown career with 68 points (36g, 32a) in a perfect 116 games. In the 2017-18 season, Donovan was named Honorable Mention All-Ivy, led the team in points (16), and was tied for the team lead in goals (8). She led the Bears in goal scoring for all four of her college seasons, including 11 career power play goals.
Last season, Chad Wiseman and the New York Riveters (now Metropolitan) signed then-Princeton standout Kelsey Koelzer a week after her final game for the Tigers. This year, eyes are on announcements by college draft picks, as well as Olympians, heading into the March 6 signing deadline announced by the league via email on Friday.
Should clarify with this - odds are most of the players don't even know yet if they'll return to NWHL teams. They just won a gold medal. But I wouldn't be shocked if some decide to come back.— Hannah Bevis (@Hannah_Bevis1) February 23, 2018
After a 3-0 loss to Boston, Connecticut is looking to jump-start its offense before the playoffs. “Our expectations of Sam are simple: we want her to start with our team as she left off with Brown University,” Equale continued.
“Sam has a high level of compete and she is a solid defensive forward that can score. We look forward to watching Sam take the next step in her development as a player on Saturday when she puts on the Whale jersey for the first time.”