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NWHL Offseason: Roster Roundup 6/21

A check in on how teams are shaping up!

Buffalo Beauts forward Autumn Macdougall scores in Lake Placid.
Michelle Jay

We’re halfway through June and, thus far, 21 players have signed contracts for the 2021-22 NWHL season. This feels like the right time to check in with all six teams and recap all the moves that have (and haven’t) been made this offseason.

Boston Pride

  • Players signed: None
  • Confirmed departures: Carlee Turner

The only news out of the Pride thus far this offseason is a trade they made with the Beauts. On June 16, the Pride acquired the Beauts’ second round pick in the 2022 Draft in exchange for their third round pick in this year’s draft. That leaves Boston with two picks in the 2021 Draft.

Does this mean we shouldn’t expect too many changes from Boston this offseason? Well, it’s hard to say.

So far, only Carlee Turner is definitely not returning to the Pack. Turner announced her retirement on Instagram after being accepted to medical school.

Remember, eight skaters on the Pride’s Lake Placid roster were rookies. After winning the Isobel Cup, there may be precious few open spots on the Pride roster unless a few players are ready to move on after winning a championship. The bottom line: we won’t know until we know.

Buffalo Beauts

  • Players signed: 10
  • Returners: Marie-Jo Pelletier (D), Cassidy MacPherson (F), Erin Gehen (F), Autumn MacDougall (F), Lisa Chesson (D), Carly Jackson (G), Caty Flagg (G)
  • Newcomers: Cassidy Vinkle (F), Amy Budde (F), Emma Keenan (D)
  • Confirmed departures: Jordan Juron (retired), Emma Ruggiero (retired)

The Beauts have been busy.

Buffalo is leading the pack with 10 signings thus far, three of which are newcomers. General manager Nate Oliver has brought back his team’s franchise defender and goaltender but we’re still waiting to see if All-Star forward Taylor Accursi will return. Her team missed her in a big, bad way in Lake Placid. We know the Beauts can stop pucks but they need a more potent and consistent offense to climb out of the league’s cellar.

More and more it looks like Iveta Klimášová’s days with the Beauts are over. After participating in Buffalo’s free agent camp, Klimášová traveled south to attend the Whale’s and Riveters’ camps in Newark. Fellow Slovak Lenka Čurmová, who has been with the team for the past two seasons, is back in Europe and also might be moving on.

So, who will be replacing them? Well, all signs point to the Beauts making a lot of noise in the 2021 Draft. At the moment, Buffalo has seven picks in the draft, three of which are in the third round. Chances are, we’re going to see a lot of rookies on the ice in Buffalo. That makes the recent re-signing of veteran defender Lisa Chesson even more important.

Connecticut Whale

  • Returners: Alyssa Wohlfeiler (F), Emma Vlasic (F), Hanna Beattie (D), Abbie Ives (G)
  • Newcomers: Kennedy Marchment (F), Allie Munroe (D)
  • Confirmed departures: Shannon Doyle (retired)

The Whale have made the biggest splashes of the offseason. They have a new owner and they’re making moves.

Connecticut acquired the first overall pick in a deal with the Buffalo Beauts and signed star free agent forward Kennedy Marchment, who has been a dominant force in the SDHL. New owner Tobin Kelly promoted Laura Brennan to assistant general manager and will soon be hiring a general manager to replace Amy Scheer. So, we’ve seen big moves on and off the ice already.

With key forwards Wohlfeiler and Vlasic returning the biggest question surrounding the Whale now — other than who they are taking with the top pick of the 2021 Draft — is what the blue line is going to look like without Shannon Doyle. Bringing back Beattie and signing Munroe is a good start but there’s still work to be done. Per a report by Dan Rice, veteran defender Taylor Marchin wants to come back. She was at the Whale’s free agent camp in Newark.

Metropolitan Riveters

  • Players signed: None
  • Confirmed departures: Sammy Kolowrat (SDHL), Tatiana Shatalova (ZhHL)

The Riveters had a free agent camp and we know they’ve made signings but none of them have been made public. Head coach and director of player personnel Ivo Mocek has hinted that there’s new blood coming to the Riveters but the team is keeping us waiting. What we do know is that the Riveters are moving forward without Kolowrat and Shatalova — both have signed with teams overseas.

Also, we can pretty much guarantee that Madison Packer will be back with the Riveters. Unless Anya Packer has been a sleeper agent of the Whale this whole time just waiting for the moment where she had the power to trade her wife to her former team, cackle madly like a supervillain, and then vanish in a puff of smoke to return to Connecticut.

That scenario seems pretty unlikely. But nothing is impossible.

Minnesota Whitecaps

  • Players signed: None
  • Confirmed departures: None

All is quiet in Whitecaps country. Remember, last offseason the Whitecaps announced only four signings before Aug. 19, 2020. So, taking their sweet time announcing signings is kind of Minnesota’s thing.

Toronto Six

  • Players signed: 5
  • Returners: Shiann Darkangelo (F), Elaine Chuli (G), Taylor Woods (D), Emma Greco (D), Mikyla Grant-Mentis (F)
  • Newcomers: None
  • Confirmed departures: Julie Allen (retired), Natalie Marcuzzi (work), Mackenzie MacNeil (work), Sarah-Ève Coutu-Godbout (SDHL)

The Toronto Six have brought back their core from last season, including captain Shiann Darkangelo, starting goaltender Elaine Chuli, and reigning MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis. The Six have also brought in a new head coach, Mark Joslin.

In an interview with The Ice Garden, Six president Digit Murphy revealed a few players who would not be returning to Toronto. She also told TIG that Toronto won’t be holding a free agent camp but it’s important to note that the Six have five picks in the first two rounds of the draft.

Buckle up, Six fans. It looks like a lot of rookies are coming to Toronto.