2024 PWHL Draft Grade: New York

At the second PWHL draft, New York made a trade, selected eight great players, and took a risk that they believe will pay off.

2024 PWHL Draft Grade: New York
Gabby Rosenthal (center) poses with (from left) Corinne Schroeder, Alex Carpenter, Ella Shelton, and PWHL New York general manager Pascal Daoust.

After a disappointing first season as the first team out of the playoff race, PWHL NY had an opportunity to reload and try again. They brought their newly-hired head coach to the draft and took part in the league’s first-ever draft day trade, going home with eight draftees.

Round 1: Sarah Fillier, Princeton University, C

Round 2: Maja Nylén Persson, Brynäs IF, RHD

Round 3: Noora Tulus, Luleå HF, C

Round 3: Allyson Simpson, Colgate University, RHD

Round 4: Gabby Rosenthal, Ohio State University, C

Round 5: Elle Hartje, Yale University, C

Round 5: Kayle Osborne, Colgate University, G

Round 6: Emmy Fecteau, Concordia University, C

Order of Events

New York did not make us wait to hear who they were picking first overall. They selected Sarah Fillier, who until very recently had been the player widely expected to go first. The hiring of Greg Fargo out of Colgate had some asking whether the projected second overall pick, Danielle Serdachny, might be taken first by her collegiate coach. However, New York followed expectations and selected the 2023 World Championship MVP in Fillier, making it an extra special birthday for her.

Prior to the beginning of the second round, viewers learned that a trade was taking place. As the draft team from PWHL Boston went up to the podium, we learned that they had received PWHL New York’s second round pick (seventh overall) and their seventh round pick. The return wouldn’t be announced on the broadcast for a few minutes, creating some exciting chaos among fans.

With Boston’s pick in the second round, New York selected Maja Nylén Persson. Nylén Persson took home her third Defender of the Year award in the SDHL this season and was named a Top 3 player for Sweden at the World Championship in Utica. Her selection is huge for New York. 

Viewers learned that New York was receiving Boston’s third round pick and fifth round pick. With two selections in the third round, they copied their game plan from the first two rounds, taking another center and a right-side defender. Noora Tulus became the third Finnish player to be drafted in the PWHL, and New York took their first Colgate alumna of the draft in Allyson Simpson.

New York’s general manager Pascal Daoust cited the championship experience of Nylén Persson and Tulus as reasons he wanted them on the team. "We want to build a team that is heading to a championship. You need some people who have a track record of winning... those two players [have definitely had] a great career over there." He said he checked in with New York’s players who have competed against Nylén Persson and Tulus in international competitions and they had “only good and strong opinions of them.”

New York took two more centers with their next two picks: Gabby Rosenthal, who won an NCAA title with Ohio State before taking a year off for school, and Elle Hartje out of Yale. Daoust said it was a “good surprise” to find Hartje available in the fifth round. Addressing the media after she was drafted, Hartje got a big grin on her face while talking about playing for New York’s new head coach:

“I'm really excited to play for Coach Fargo. I played against him a long time and that was a big rivalry there, so it'll be nice to finally– I didn't hate him, but I hated what he stood for, which was Colgate. We wanted to beat them. So I'm really excited to play for him and learn from him.”

With Boston’s pick in the fifth round, New York selected Kayle Osborne, a goaltender who had played for Fargo for the last four seasons.

With their eighth and final pick in the draft, having given Boston their seventh rounder, Daoust, a former coach in the Canadian university system, continued his pattern of picking players from Quebec. He selected Emmy Fecteau out of Concordia University, before PWHL Montreal, who were also interested, was able to draft her. She became the first player to be drafted in the PWHL out of the Canadian university system USports.

"I'm very proud to represent USport today... I will show how much we can play in USport and how the level is also very good. So far the players from USport did an amazing job, and I think we're going to continue to show how we can play hockey and how hockey is [at a similar level] as in the NCAA.”

Vibe check? Passed.

Did they fill their needs?

In my pre-draft article for New York, I described what kinds of players the team should be looking to draft at different positions, and for the most part my predictions held true.

With some questions in net, New York did choose to take Colgate alumna Kayle Osborne later in the draft and use their earlier picks on skaters. The day after the draft, the team announced that they had extended Goaltender of the Year finalist Corinne Schroeder for two more years. With Schroeder a known quantity to start and the chance to develop Osborne behind her, New York can feel secure at the position.

As I predicted, New York used two picks before the fifth round on defenders, including one of their top two picks. As I thought they might, they took Allyson Simpson from Colgate and a reliable player in Maja Nylén Persson. Daoust complimented the play of the defenders on the team this year and explained why the team took two right-side defenders early on:

"I think we have already a good d-corps and we're adding some great D with the right side of the play, that was a need. This year we were playing only with Bourbonnais and Baker on that side. Players at that level, they are okay to play on the wrong side. Two lefties together, you see that often, but when you have the opportunity to go with two top right-hand D that [were available]… we are very happy to add those two to the other four.”

With the two right-side defenders they took and Jamie Bourbonnais, New York can finally field a true right side on defense to balance their several left-side skaters. Figuring out the best configuration is a perfect use of training camp.

I predicted that New York would be drafting some elite European talent, and they certainly did that in Nylén Persson and Tulus. I also predicted that they would have more need at wing than at center, since they would be returning Abby Roque and Alex Carpenter and presumably adding another elite center with the first overall pick. Although Gabby Rosenthal, Elle Hartje, and Emmy Fecteau were all players I thought New York may be interested in, I was surprised to see them take all three, and two more centers besides.

All of the forwards New York drafted are talented players who make sense on this roster for different reasons. Some have played wing in the past, and some have experienced playing in a defensive role. One of my predictions for PWHL New York’s draft, knowing the kind of talent they had on to prepare, was that we would see ‘smart and sneaky’ picks from the college ranks. Perhaps the all-centers plan fits those descriptors.

I asked Greg Fargo and Pascal Daoust about the choice to draft five centers, and they were both confident in the strategy:

“Beyond looking at the fact that maybe they just play center, I think we have a lot of players potentially in our lineup who have done both over the course of their careers, have played center or wing,” Coach Fargo said. “I know from a coaching standpoint having that kind of versatility up your lineup, and flexibility, I know it’s another strength of ours as we look to put together the right combinations of people as the season goes on and certainly I imagine we will try some different things. The goal here is to be the best team at the end of the year come playoff time, so we’ll explore some of those things.”

Daoust elaborated on the versatility of having multiple centers, citing that it can be valuable to have players on a line who can take a faceoff on the left or right circle. “A center is also a player who can play 360 degrees. They are most of the time in the middle of the ice and they are aware of everything around them. A winger– I’m not saying that they can’t do this, but it’s less natural for them because they have one side of the rink that is most of the time not there for them to use. So I see that more as a strength than anything else. It’s an extra tool and it’s easier to ask a center to adjust as a winger than the other way around. So I feel that we have good tools to work with.”

It’s worth pointing out that PWHL New York had a number of players who had previously played center playing on the wings in season one. Season two will be different in many ways, so we’ll see whether the technique will prove to be an advantage with a different coach and a different group of players. 

Draft Grade: B+

Daoust explained why he was happy to make the trade with Boston that left them with eight picks.

"When you look at the list you have, it's a shopping list, and you're trying to fill as [many positions] as you can to have a training camp that will be a high level of competition, and then a season that no one with think that 'this is my chair for the rest of the year.' This is a pro league, we need competition."

The defenders New York selected in the draft will definitely provide that kind of competition to any players from this year’s blue line who want to compete for a spot, and even for those players already on contract: Micah Zandee-Hart, who was signed prior to the 2023 draft, is the only defender on New York whose contract is guaranteed.

In net, the team seems squared away. Whether they will bring back Abbey Levy or Lindsey Post, or find a new third goaltender from their training camp invites, will be seen later.

Up front, questions remain. While all of the forwards New York took are very talented players who other teams would have loved to take, there is a reason why teams generally look for a mix of positional specialities. It’s quite possible that with a talented enough group of players, united in a good team culture, everything will fall into place. Whether that technique will be enough to overcome the rosters of other teams in the PWHL, we’ll have to wait and see. A year from now, we could all be applauding New York’s strategy, but at this moment, I can’t give it full marks.

New York does get a boost from its participation in the first draft day trade in league history, which was very fun and saw them leave the draft with eight players, definitely a positive considering the amount of roster turnover they’re expected to have. They also get a boost from having a general manager who dresses like this:

For those reasons, New York’s draft gets a B+ from me. I’ll take it all back in a year if they bring the Walter Cup to the tri-state area.