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NWHL Offseason: Roster Roundup 7/26

Buffalo is running laps around the rest of the league right now

Toronto Six defender Lindsay Eastwood in a game in Lake Placid.
Michelle Jay

As we near the end of July, we have one NWHL team with a nearly complete roster, two teams that have yet to make a single move, and three teams that are slowly but surely coming together. Let’s catch up on how all six NWHL rosters are coming together with this addition of our Roster Roundup.

Boston Pride

  • Signings: None

We’re still waiting for the first signing from the Pride but things have been moving behind the scenes. After Karilyn Pilch was hired by the Chicago Blackhawks to serve as a scout, Boston signed a new general manager in former Brown University standout Danielle Lorouco.

Lorouco may have more work ahead of her to rebuild the Pridethan we initially thought. Some key depth forwards, Mary Parker and Carlee Turner, will not be back with the team next season. Boston had a lot of success in building through last year’s draft, so our eyes are locked on the Pride’s picks from the 2021 Draft to round out the roster.

Buffalo Beauts

  • Players signed: 19
  • Returners: Marie-Jo Pelletier, Carly Jackson, Cassidy MacPherson, Caty Flagg, Erin Gehen, Autumn MacDougall, Lisa Chesson, Dominique Kremer, Taylor Accursi, Brittany Colton, Taylor Wasylk
  • Newcomers: Cassidy Vinkle, Emma Keenan, Amy Budde, Emilie Harley, Anjelica Diffendal, Sam Fieseler, Kennedy Ganser, Missy Segall

On paper, the Beauts have enough skaters and goaltenders to dress a roster for a hockey game — they are the only NWHL team that can say that at this stage of the offseason. There are only six roster spots left available for the Beauts which means we could be nearing the completion of this roster and we’re not even out of July.

How has this team come together? Well, the draft has a lot to do with it.

Beauts’ general manager Nate Oliver has signed four of the team’s first five selections from the 2021 Draft — Harley, Diffendal, Ganser, and Segall. Furthermore, Jackson and MacDougall were Beauts’ picks from the 2020 Draft and Kremer was a Whale pick in the 2018 Draft. That ability to build through the draft has given this Beauts team an entirely different feel than past rosters. This is very much Buffalo’s — or should we say Oliver’s — Beauts.

A recent development to keep a close eye on is the Beauts’ pick from the 2021 International Draft, Lovisa Berndtsson. Berndtsson has already shown off her new Beauts’ helmet so we should expect news of her signing very shortly.

Connecticut Whale

  • Signed: 10
  • Returners: Alyssa Wohlfeiler, Abbie Ives, Emma Vlasic, Hanna Beattie, Tori Howran, Mariah Fujimagari
  • Newcomers: Kennedy Marchment, Allie Munroe, Taylor Girard, Emma Polaski

Since we last checked in on the Whale, they have signed their first two picks from the 2021 Draft — Taylor Girard and Emma Polaski.

Girard and Polaski both have the talent to shine on scoring lines and we should expect big things out of the 5-foot-10 Girard, who was the top pick of the 2021 Draft. They are two more reasons that this group of Whale forwards is drawing attention from around the league. If Connecticut continues to build this way, they could have an offense to be feared for the first time in years.

It also appears that Janine Weber will be back with the Whale, which only adds to this group’s impressive depth. Weber, in particular, is an important cog in the machine because she plays down the middle. We should expect news of her signing soon.

Metropolitan Riveters

  • Players signed: 8
  • Returners: Madison Packer, Emily Janiga, Leila Kilduff, Sonjia Shelly, Theresa Knutson, Allie Olnowich, Mallory Rushton, Kendall Cornine
  • Newcomers: none

The Riveters have picked up the pace announcing their signings, which is a good thing because as good as Madison Packer is she can’t play alone.

The Rivs have brought back forwards Janiga, Knutson, Rushton, and Cornine which amounts to two top-six centers and two scoring line wingers. On the blue line, the Rivs have re-signed Kilduff, who is coming off of a big performance in Lake Placid, and Olnowich.

We’re still waiting to see what happens with Rebecca Morse and Kiira Dosdall-Arena and key forwards Kate Leary, Rebecca Russo, and Kelly Babstock. The Rivs have also yet to announce any new blood. We also know that they’ve lost Saroya Tinker and Sammy Kolowrat to free agency, which indicates the blue line could look significantly different than it did in Lake Placid.

Minnesota Whitecaps

  • Players signed: none

Apparently taking your sweet time to announce signings is just Minnesota’s thing. For the second straight season, they are keeping us all waiting.

In Whitecaps-related news, winger Nina Rodgers has joined the University of Dartmouth as an assistant coach. Obviously, this puts her future with the Whitecaps into doubt. Rodgers would be a big loss for Minnesota. She was simply brilliant in Lake Placid.

Toronto Six

  • Players signed: 10
  • Returners: Shiann Darkangelo, Emma Greco, Elaine Chuli, Taylor Woolds, Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Emma Woods, Lindsay Eastwood
  • Newcomers: Saroya Tinker, Maegan Beres, Leah Marino

The Six have brought back two players who were integral to their success in Lake Placid since the last time we caught up with roster moves in the NWHL. Top-pair defender Lindsay Eastwood and alternate captain and scoring-line winger Emma Woods are both back in the picture, joining a Six roster that looks dangerous on offense and rock-solid on the blue line.

We know there are some holes to fill for Toronto with the retirement of Julie Allen and Natalie Marcuzzi and Mackenzie MacNeil moving on from the team but Toronto did make a lot of picks in the 201 Draft. Don’t be surprised if there’s a big new crop of rookies on next year’s Toronto squad.