The Beauts made decent use of their seven draft picks heading into the 2021 NWHL Draft Tuesday evening, focusing heavily on the front lines and picking up some size along the way.
So who was picked?
After trading their first overall pick to Connecticut, Buffalo used the second overall pick to draft Robert Morris University forward-defender Emilie Harley in what looks to be a great move to secure some insurance on the back end while also strengthening up the middle. Harley has the size (6 feet tall) and the versatility to prove extremely useful to the Beauts, who need puck protection as well as a bit of muscle.
Buffalo continued the tribute to RMU’s now-defunct women’s hockey program by selecting Anjelica Diffendal, another forward who can provide some secondary scoring (40 points over 122 games in her career — and let the record show that she does, indeed, spell her name differently from me).
Then, with three consecutive picks in the third round, Buffalo selected two forwards — Kennedy Ganser out of the U of Alberta and Hamilton College’s Missy Segall — with UMaine’s Anna Zíková, coming in between them. Ganser re-joins her former Pandas teammate Autumn MacDougall and provides another option at center, while Zíková joins the growing crew of former Black Bears now or previously in Beauts’ blue. Zíková also continues the trend of the Beauts organization looking at all areas of women’s hockey, as she is a prominent player on Team Czech Republic with a bronze and a gold medal under her belt in international play.
The fourth round saw Buffalo hit a bit closer to home, picking 716 native Allison Attea out of Holy Cross. Attea isn’t the biggest player on the ice (though she’s a sizable 5-foot-7), but she led Holy Cross in shot-blocking in her junior year — and with the amount of shots the Beauts had to block in Lake Placid, that’s definitely a boost to the blueline.
And about that last pick...
Last, but not least, the Beauts rounded out their draft board with a league-wide first, drafting the UK’s Casey Traill out of Castleton University.
Traill also has a good international resume, having made appearances on both the U18 and senior national teams for Great Britain. General manager Nate Oliver looks to be aiming for the long-term with Traill, which makes sense considering the current climate, but given the upward trend of women’s hockey across the pond and throughout Europe, this is a great opportunity for both sides to gain traction — the Beauts with an as-yet unexplored market, and Traill by giving a platform for British women’s hockey to flourish.
Overall, this is a great draft class. Oliver focused a bit more on the blue line than I anticipated — after all, the defense was the least of the Beauts’ issues, but perhaps there are fewer of LP’s defenders coming back than originally thought. But the fact that Buffalo picked up both size and versatility — Harley and Diffendal are both six-foot players, Harley has experience on both sides of the puck, etc, — is heartening, and will hopefully give Carly Jackson and Caty Flagg a bit of a lighter workload in Year Seven. Plus, the diversity in backgrounds and nationalities shows the organization’s willingness to think outside the box — or at least, beyond the North American border.
There’s still plenty of signing time, plus the International Draft to consider, but it’ll be interesting to see what arises from these picks in the ensuing months. Stay tuned for even more coverage as the headlines come.