The NWHL announced its 2020 Draft will take place via Twitter starting at 7 p.m. eastern on both April 28 and April 29.
Tuesday will have the first two rounds, while the remaining three will be Wednesday. All six teams will participate, including the recently added Toronto team, for a total of 30 draft picks.
As the newest team, Toronto will have the first pick, and then drop one pick lower each round. The other teams were slotted based on their regular season standings.
- Round 1: Toronto, Connecticut, Buffalo, Metropolitan, Minnesota, Boston
- Round 2: Connecticut, Toronto, Buffalo, Metropolitan, Minnesota, Boston
- Round 3: Connecticut, Buffalo, Toronto, Metropolitan, Minnesota, Boston
- Round 4: Connecticut, Buffalo, Metropolitan, Toronto, Minnesota, Boston
- Round 5: Connecticut, Buffalo, Connecticut, Minnesota, Toronto, Boston
The lone exception is that in round five, Connecticut will have two picks. This will account for the “future considerations” from the Maria Sorokina trade when the Whale traded the Russian goaltender to the Riveters in the 2018-2019 season.
Teams will be drafting college players who recently completely their eligibility and registered for the draft. This is a new part — in the past, they’ve drafted players ahead of their senior year or, as was the case in the 2018 Draft, in the middle of it.
According to the release, teams can begin discussing contracts with their picks after the draft. However, the drafted players are not bound to sign to the team that drafted them. They are free to sign wherever. Players also do not have to be drafted to play in the league.
Teams are also free to trade ahead of the draft starting.
“As the NWHL continues to showcase women’s hockey and its remarkable players, we recognize that the draft is a cherished and important moment in a professional athlete’s career,” said NWHL Deputy Commissioner/Director of Player Development Michelle Picard in the league’s release. “We know that many of these players will have important roles on their NWHL teams in the upcoming season, and we look forward to the launch of their professional hockey careers.”
In the past, the NWHL Draft has been a little unpredictable in terms of whether drafted players go on to play for the teams who picked them. The 2017 Draft was the most successful, with 55% of the drafted players suiting up in NWHL games the following season. The 2018 Draft had potential for a high percentage as well, but many went to the PWHPA after the CWHL folded.
Given the current climate of women’s hockey, this year’s success rate will largely depend on the general managers’ conversations with prospective new players and how thoughtful they are about who they select. If they are smart, there’s a chance we could see the largest draft class yet sign contracts for the 2020-21 season.