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Which original NWHL player will play the longest?

Anya Packer posted a twitter poll questioning which OG NWHL player will retire first...so I looked into it.

Three OG NWHL players most likely debating who will play the longest.
Michelle Jay

The NWHL is currently in its fifth season and recently on Twitter, NWHLPA head Anya Packer asked in a fun Twitter poll of four major players who have been around since the NWHL’s founding, who would stick around the longest?

Obviously this is all in good fun, with her wife Madison Packer being a clear favorite. Some of the answers are pretty fun, like a write in of Corinne Buie to represent the Beauts who are left out of the original poll. Anya Packer might have some insider knowledge as she is married to one of the four options too. Either way, I took a look at the careers of all four players, and Buie too to represent all founding four teams, and made my prediction for who will stay in the league the longest.

All five players have had phenomenal careers under their belts already. Dempsey, Packer, and Doyle have all been named captain of their respective teams. Dempsey, Packer, and Buie have won Isobel Cups. Dempsey and Packer are also currently battling it out for most all-time goals. They went into this season tied at 29. Dempsey currently leads Packer by two goals but there is a long season ahead.

Current All-Time Stats

Player GP G A ASG Appearances Isobel Cup Wins Teams Played On
Player GP G A ASG Appearances Isobel Cup Wins Teams Played On
Corrine Buie 76 21 21 2 1 2
Jillian Dempsey 77 35 41 2 1 1
Kaleigh Fratkin 73 10 39 2 0 3
Madison Packer 67 33 26 3 1 1
Shannon Doyle 70 6 25 1 0 1

As you can see, all five of them are close to each other in some capacity. Certain stats may keep certain players around longer like wanting to win a Cup before retiring or wanting to retire with a league leading stat like most points or goals.

Two things to factor into all of this is definitely age and physical ability or wear. Dempsey is the oldest of the five, being born in January of 1991, Packer takes second with a June birthday. The other three all claim a March 1992 birthday, Doyle and Buie being born just two days apart. While I would like to think age may have a negative impact on the older players, they are all so close, I’m not sure it matters much.

As far as physical wear goes, It’s not up for much debate that Packer takes a brunt of that in the league. She’s been suspended as well as missed games injured for on-ice incidents that made a physical impact on her. That being said, Fratkin actually leads the league in all-time penalty minutes, beating Packer by 15 minutes at 118 total. Maybe that’s a league leading stat she’d like to lose before retiring.

Taking a look at their current standings, Dempsey may seem the most accomplished leading the pack with the highest number of mostly every stat. She also has a Denna Laing award under her belt, and the highest points per game average despite Packer playing 10 less games than her.

The Pride are a clear favorite to win the Isobel Cup this year, which would give Fratkin her first NWHL championship, leaving Doyle as the only player of the five without one. A Pride win would also put Dempsey that much further ahead of the others.

There are great cases for all five of these players to stay in the league for a long time and I’m sure they will all do what they can to play as long as they can. That being said, I don’t anticipate Dempsey or Packer leaving their potential all-time goals record on the table, or being settled with just one Isobel Cup win. My official prediction is a tie, but seriously they might just have to take each other out of the league at the same time.