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NWHL Roster Recap: A notebook

I guess you can call this a notebook?

Pat McCarthy

The NWHL have only announced one new signings since our last roster recap.

Given that, rather than do a normal roster recap, this week’s will be a collection of various numbers and notes on the 99 players signed. And yes, I am slightly annoyed we’ve been stuck at 99 instead of a nice round 100.

The Rosters

The sole announcement in the last two weeks was Kelly O’Sullivan, one of the Buffalo Beauts drafts picks. The defender netted 114 points in 119 games at Adrian College. Here’s where the rosters stand:

The Minnesota Whitecaps are waiting to sign more players until they can hold a camp, according to Dan Rice. So, don’t fret quite yet Whitecaps fans. I’d expect to see Audra Richards re-sign given that she’s been working out with Allie Thunstrom, based on social media posts. Allie Morse has been a quality backup goaltender, despite seeing limited minutes so she’s another name I expect to see back as well. Longtime Buffalo Beaut Corinne Buie has to sign in Buffalo and appears to be back in her home state of Minnesota, so that’s another name to keep an eye on.

The other teams are taking full shape. The Toronto Six might need some more defenders though as they only have four. They also still don’t have a coach, but they have been holding practices for a group of the players who are in Toronto, plus also Metropolitan Riveters goaltender Tera Hofmann who lives in the area and has trained with the Six general manager Mandy Cronin for years.

The Boston Pride also has a group of players getting together for skills practices during the week. They’re getting ready for the Revenge Tour, and apparently no one told Jillian Dempsey its the offseason as she schooled her teammates a few times.

The Draft Picks

The NWHL Draft has always been a bit rocky. Over the first three years of the draft, only 28 of the 60 players picked played in the league the next season. The 2018 draft was even worse, mostly due to the collapse of the CWHL and growth of the PWHPA. Only five players from that drafted joined the league.

Then we move to the 2020 Draft. Of the 30 draft picks this season, 18 have signed with the team that drafted them so far. Boston boasted a distinction of being the first team in history to sign all of their draft picks as well. Seven players have opted to go elsewhere, and another five are still free agents in the loosest sense of the word.

While the landscape of women’s hockey is still uneasy, this seems to show that it has leveled out to an extent as players have a clearer picture of their options. The league and the general managers also were more intentional with who they talked to and then drafted. For a draft that doesn’t mean a ton as players typically play in cities where they can find work outside of hockey, this is a promising step towards it being a more meaningful event to get fans excited.

Roster Stability

Eighteen signed draft picks also means 18 newcomers to the league. Last season, the rosters saw a large amount of turnover with over half of the players new to the league.

Overall, 46 players are new to the league. At first glance, it seems as if the trend of roster instability is continuing. However, the league added a new team this season. The Six currently have 15 players who are new to the league. If you take those players out of the equation, as its to be expected that the new team would mean an influx of new players, only 31 players new, or about 38 percent. This is a huge decrease from last season.

The number of players who are returning for their second season has stayed about consistent from last season at about 25 percent. But the number of players returning for their third or fourth season has grown by two and six percent respectively. Put all of these numbers together and all signs are pointing to stability in the rosters, a positive step for the league.