Let’s imagine a world where, like the NHL, a trade deadline looms for women’s hockey.
What could each CWHL team do around the deadline to improve their chances at a cup this year or next? For the sake of suspension of disbelief, let’s pretend the players can relocate without concerns about money or location.
The Blades are in rebuild mode. Or, they would be, in this hypothetical where that was an easier thing to do. They need to sell sell sell at this deadline in order to set themselves up for success next season. One thing they’re not lacking in? Goalies. Fujimagari has had a strong rookie showing, and Jetta Rackleff and Lauren Dahm have both proven themselves as well. If the Blades could get someone like the Furies to bite on Dahm, they might be in business. Dahm could help the rookie Furies goaltenders settle in, and in return the Blades could presumably ask for a little help on defense, where they’re their most shallow. I’d think Jordan Hampton, a Massachusetts native, would be a good mark here. Package her with rookie forward Krystin Capizzano out of BC, and the Blades are looking better already.
Toronto is in pretty decent shape. It’s hard to compete with teams absolutely stacked with national team talent, but you can bet that Brittany Howard and Sarah Nurse will only get better, especially with Natalie Spooner leading by example. They seem like a team that’s inches from really clicking into place. If they’re willing to bank on another deep, Ontario-heavy draft and the development of their rookies, they might also be willing to let a few depth pieces go for a veteran goalie who can give them some wriggle room with rookies Shea Tiley (first season) and Elaine Chuli (second season).
This team has the determination and physicality to hang with the behemoth Inferno and Canadiennes. They have a shot at a repeat as-is, but if they want to make things really interesting, they could make a pitch for another elite scorer to round out their top six. This might be a stretch, but if anyone can pull it off, the Thunder can: pull out all the stops and make a move for Hilary Knight. Montreal can afford to lose her, and she would make Markham absolutely lethal. She’s not getting top-line minutes, and though she’s been fine on the second line, she might be enticed by the chance to play more and take her natural spot in the powerplay. As it stands, Melodie Daoust tends to play on the same power play unit, in the area where Knight is most dangerous (the crease). Acquiring Knight as a playoff rental would be huge for Markham. The question is, what would they have to give up?
Les Canadiennes de Montreal
Montreal doesn’t really need to do anything if they don’t want to. They look great, especially with Daoust back from injury. That being said, Bellamy, Hickel, and Decker are all in their first of two year contracts with the Inferno, and the Canadiennes have to keep up with that kind of firepower if they want to be in good shape next year. Losing Knight to Markham would be a tough sell unless they could leverage it to prepare them for the draft. A first, a second and some help on defense--let’s say Ella Matteucci--might get it done, especially if they think they can get Knight to sign again in the offseason. It would be tempting if only to have some more depth on defense going into a playoffs where they’ll be facing high-octane scoring no matter who they play, especially as Knight, whose 15 points in 22 games played, might be considered ‘underperforming’.
The Inferno need to sit on all they have. With Bellamy, Decker, and Hickel on the first year of two-year contracts, they’re not set up to lose any of the new scoring they’ve gained this season. With an emphatic, hard-fought sweep in Shenzhen this past weekend, they’re on top of the league and won’t be looking to make any changes.
Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays
It’s unclear to me how this would work (even in our hypothetical) because of the international player rules and exceptions in play here. That being said, Räty has hinted at retiring after this spring’s World Championships in Finland, so the Rays need to be on their toes and prepared to fill that void as best they can. A team like Montreal with two bona fide starters would be a good target in the offseason, but there’s no point in making any moves right now.
The Blades receive Krystin Cappizano and Jordan Hampton; the Furies receive Lauren Dahm
The Thunder receive Hilary Knight; Les Canadiennes receive a first round pick, a second round pick, and Ella Matteucci.