14 | Emma Maltais | Team Canada | Ohio State
Maltais played at the highest level to date in her career last season; she was centralized with Team Canada and played well enough to earn a spot on the final Olympic Team. She was a part of Canada’s bottom-six forward group and helped them win Olympic gold in Beijing.
While centralized, Maltais carved out a spot on the team as an energy type of player who could help create a buzz on the lower lines. Throughout her NCAA career with Ohio State, Maltais was a dynamic forward and the driver of their offense. At the international level, the pace is obviously much different, but Maltais used her skill and quickness to be effective in her role.
Canada’s depth was on clear display all tournament long at the Olympics, and Maltais was a part of that. She scored one goal and one assist in Beijing. Along with Laura Stacey and Jill Saulnier, she gave the Canadians some very efficient minutes and showed she can provide quality minutes at the highest level.
- She won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2022 Olympics.
- She won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
- She was a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top-10 Finalist in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
- She was named a CCM/AHCA Second Team All-American in 2019-20.
- She was an All-WCHA First Team honoree for three straight seasons.
- She won the WCHA’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2017-18.
- She won silver medals with Team Canada at the 2015 and 2017 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships.
What Comes Next
Maltais still has one year of eligibility left in the NCAA and, before she was centralized with Team Canada, had committed to returning to Ohio State for her fifth year. Beyond that though, it’s clear she already has a role on the national team if she remains at that level. Based on her skillset, and the skill level of other players in development around her, I think we’ll likely see in her a similar (if not more effective) role with Team Canada moving forward. She could potentially slot in as a top-six forward, but she can have more of an impact by influencing the game as a depth player.
Too High or Too Low?
Just based on the pure skill level of other players in her age group and those coming up around her, I think this is a bit high for Maltais. She can clearly be a difference maker for her team and she already has an Olympic gold medal to her name, and she’s a great player in her own right. But my feeling is that other players may have higher ceilings in terms of their individual skillsets.
13 | Taylor Heise | Forward | University of Minnesota
The 2021-22 was, by all accounts, the season of Taylor Heise’s career. She scored 29 goals and had 37 assists for 66 points, the team leader in all three categories. She far outpaced her previous seasons’ production for a whopping 1.69 points per game average. The assistant captain for the Gophers didn’t just lead her team in assists and points, she was lead the nation is both stat columns, and was second in goals and second in average points per game too.
All of that added up to a Patty Kazmaier Award win, a huge honor in her first time being a finalist.
- 2022 Patty Kazmaier Award Winner
- 2018 U18 World Championships gold medalist
- 2018 U18 Worlds MVP and Best Forward
- 2017 U18 World Championships gold medalist
- 2016 U18 World Championships gold medalist
What Comes Next
Heise will return to the Twin Cities for her fifth and final season as a Gopher. They’re returning a ton of top talent so look for the Gophers to make another run at the National Title after losing in the semifinals last season. She’s got 160 total points on her career and if she has another season like last, Heise could crack the Gopher record book for career points and career assists easily.
Too High or Too Low?
I’ve been swaying between a tad bit too high and just right quite literally as I write this. Heise obviously had an incredible season in 21-22, something that played a factor in my own rankings for sure. But she has no senior National Team experience whereas players who were higher up on this list do. It all depends on, like Gabs said with Maltais, her ceiling compared to other players.