This Sunday, the NWHL will hold its first-ever International Draft on Twitch at 1 p.m. Eastern.
For starters, don’t mix this up with an entry draft — the NWHL’s entry draft already happened, on June 29. The International draft is a novel, nontraditional event. If you’re confused about what to expect, don’t worry. It seems like everyone is — but that’s why you’re here. Let’s look at what we know and address what we don’t know.
For starters, it’s only one round long. The Buffalo Beauts will lead things off with the first pick with the Connecticut Whale, Boston Pride, Toronto Six, Metropolitan Riveters, and Minnesota Whitecaps following in that order.
Who can be drafted is also vastly different. Eligible players are those who were born outside of North America and have not played in the NWHL, NCAA, or U Sports. They also must be at least 21-years-old as well. For example, Pride goaltender Lovisa Selander would not be eligible for this draft because, even though she was born in Sweden, she played at RPI. Conversely, Iveta Klimášová would be because she did not play college hockey in Canada or the United States.
Because of that, it is a bit tough to scout players who we could see drafted on Sunday afternoon.
However, we do have at least one name to watch out for: Romana Košecká.
Košecká is Slovakian forward who spent time in the EWHL and on Slovakia’s national team. She participated in the Beauts, Whale, and Riveters free agent camps in early June. Mike Murphy described her as having “good instincts on the rush and looked like a strong skater.” At the camp, assistant coach Laura Brennan told Murphy, “On the ice today, Romana is the only player who would meet (International Draft) qualifications, so that is someone who we would be looking at with that in our minds.”
Players eligible for the International Draft have not been able to sign yet during free agency. The five players selected on Sunday will become restricted free agents for two weeks before they become unrestricted at 9 a.m. on Aug. 9. Any non-drafted international player is a free agent starting at 9 a.m. on July 26. So, that is another key date to circle on the calendar this offseason.
As is the case with the entry draft, there is no guarantee that any of these players will sign with the teams that draft them. This could simply be the league’s way of putting the NWHL on the radar for international players if it wasn’t already. If that’s the case, this first draft might be more ceremonial than functional in terms of recruiting and developing talent but could, in later years, become much more.
In the traditional draft, held on June 29, three international players were drafted. The Beauts picked Anna Zíková (Czech Republic, University of Maine) in the third round and Casey Traill (England, Castleton University) in the fifth round. The Six took Daria Tereshkina (Russia, University of Maine) in the last round.