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2020 NWHL Draft Recap: Toronto, Boston, Minnesota

Digging in to what the NWHL’s top two teams and newest team did in this year’s draft

Ice Hockey Women’s 5 Nations Tournament - Day 1 Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Read how Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, and Buffalo Beauts drafted here.

Toronto

Heading into day one of the 2020 NWHL Draft Toronto’s biggest need was star power. With their first pick on Tuesday night, they did just that.

Toronto was all about offense on Tuesday and Wednesday night. After taking Gebhard at the end of the first round — which might just be the best pick of the draft — the NWHL’s new Canadian team selected three more forwards. In the fourth round, they picked up Gebhard’s RMU teammate Natalie Marcuzzi. Also, to the surprise of no one, Toronto selected exclusively Canadian players.

  • Jaycee Gebhard, F, Robert Morris (6th overall)

You know your first NWHL Draft is off to a good start when you give up the first overall pick and still end up selecting the highest-scoring senior in the nation. The 63 points she piled up in 2019-20 set a program record for the RMU Colonials.

Gebhard has all the makings of a franchise center for Toronto to build around. She’s a creative playmaker who picked up 43 assists as a senior and 32 helpers as a junior. The majority of her points may have been assists, but Gebhard also has a quick release that helped her pot 74 goals in her NCAA career. Simply put, she has game-breaking skill and makes the players around her better.

@DigDeepBSB

Gebhard and Shiann Darkangelo just might be the NWHL’s next dominant scoring duo. On paper, the quickness and vision of Gebhard and the big frame and finishing ability of Darkangelo is a match made in heaven.

  • Amy Curlew, F, Cornell (8th overall)

Prior to her career with the Big Red, Curlew played with current NWHLers Christina Putigna and Cassidy MacPherson on the Oakville Hornets (PWHL). Her production in the Provincial Hockey League (0.88 P/GP) eclipsed both Putigna and MacPherson, which suggests she should be capable of being a productive scoring line forward at the NWHL level.

At Cornell, Curlew was a secondary if not a tertiary weapon for the Big Red behind Micah Zandee-Hart, Maddie Mills, and Kristin O’Neill. The 22 points she scored this year was a career-best despite the fact that her production slowed down significantly after the New Year. Curlew notched seven points in her last 19 games of the season after earning points in 10 of the first 13 games of 2019-20.

  • Erin Locke, F, York (15th overall)
  • Natalie Marcuzzi, F, RMU (22nd overall)

Minnesota Whitecaps

The NWHL’s oldest team in the 2019-20 season was also its fastest. That didn’t stop the Whitecaps from targeting speed in the draft and yet again tapping into the Golden Gophers program to bolster their roster.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2020 NWHL Draft is that the Whitecaps, who have an aging blue line that was stretched thin last season, took only two defenders in the draft. However, they did grab two great defensive defenders in Patti Marshall and Maddie Rowe in round two and round five, respectively.

  • Alex Woken, F, Minnesota (5th overall)

Woken, a natural winger from North Dakota, was the WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year in 2019-20. She’s a product of the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s program and won two gold medals with Team USA at the 2015 and 2016 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championships.

She led the Golden Gophers in power-play goals (4) in her breakout senior season in 2019-20, finishing with 32 points in 36 games. That was a big jump from her 11 goal, seven assist junior campaign. She scored at least 10 goals in her final three years with the Gophers, but is primarily known for her two-way game.

The Whitecaps know exactly what they’re getting with Woken. She’s a consistent player who hustles all over the ice and plays meat and potatoes hockey. She gets pucks to the net and has a knack for setting up her teammates, much like current Whitecap Jonna Curtis. Curtis is almost certainly the faster skater, but Woken is peerless when it comes to work ethic.

  • Patti Marshall, D, Minnesota (11th overall)

Marshall just might be the shutdown defender that the Whitecaps have been missing since the departure of Lee Stecklein. You have to be a special player to make Team USA’s roster for three U18 Women’s World Championships and to be named captain of the Golden Gophers. In other words, Whitecaps fans need to look beyond the 10 points that Marshall picked up as a senior.

She finished third on Minnesota in blocked shots (44) in her senior season and earned just three minor penalties in 36 games. Marshall was the only senior on the Gophers this year and didn’t get much time on the power play. She played a larger role in Minnesota’s offense as a junior in 2018-19, leading the blue line in even strength scoring (17) and +/- (+44).

  • Presley Norby, F, Wisconsin (17th overall)
  • Haley Mack, F, Bemidji State (23rd overall)
  • Maddie Rowe, D, Wisconsin (28th overall)

Boston Pride

What do you get the team that has everything? Apparently, the answer to that question is more of the same.

The Pride started the 2020 NWHL Draft with a bombshell trade and picked up two elite forwards in the first two rounds. On day two, Boston general manager Karilyn Pilch and the front office focused on bolstering the blue line and adding even more scoring depth.

  • Sammy Davis, F, Boston University (1st overall)

The Pride gave up a lot to move up in the first round to take Davis off the board. She finished her NCAA career averaging 0.97 Pts/GP and eclipsed 40 points as a redshirt junior in 2018-19 and as a redshirt senior in 2019-20 — she missed the 2017-18 season with an injury. Those numbers are sensational.

In Davis, Boston has added another versatile, dangerous forward. She led the Terriers in goals (17) and primary assists (15) in her senior season and finished the year with 11 more points than BU’s second-highest scorer. Davis is a natural winger, which means the Pride will have another big weapon on the wing if they manage to sign her.

  • Tereza Vanišová, F, Maine (12th overall)

Vanišová just might be the NWHL’s next great Czech forward regardless of which line she lands on with the Pride. She has a wealth of international experience with the Czech national team and finished her NCAA career with 129 points in 129 games.

Nayan Patel (@scootszn99)

She finished second on the Black Bears in scoring as a senior in 2019-20, but missed four of Maine’s games. Vanišová shared the team lead in points per-game (0.94) and was the Black Bears’ most dominant center on the faceoff dot (54.8 FO%). More importantly, she led the team in even strength scoring (23) and was a physical presence whenever she was on the ice.

  • Taylor Wenczkowski, F, UNH (18th overall)
  • Taylor Turnquist, D, Clarkson University (24th overall)
  • Meghara McManus, F, UNH (29th overall)
  • Paige Capistran, D, Northeastern (30th overall)

All data courtesy of collegehockeyinc.com and EliteProspects.com.