2024 PWHL DRAFT: Meet Boston's Newest Members

A look at PWHL Boston's newest players, plus draft day reactions from the attending players and general manager Danielle Marmer.

2024 PWHL DRAFT: Meet Boston's Newest Members
Photo by Heather Pollock.

Earlier this week, the 2024 PWHL Draft took place in Minnesota. Boston picked six new skaters, evenly split between forwards and defenders. Hannah Bilka, Shay Maloney, and Ilona Markova make up the forward contingent, while Daniela Pejšová, Sydney Bard, and Hadley Hartmetz are the team’s newest defenders.

Boston also made some extra noise on the draft floor by participating in the first trade in PWHL draft history (notably, they were also part of the first trade in league history back in February). Boston traded picks 10, 16, and 28 to PWHL New York for picks 7 and 37.

“It was premeditated and the idea was created earlier today [June 10],” said Boston general manager Danielle Marmer about the trade during her post-draft availability. “But there was a contingency upon whether a certain player was there at 7 and I think for Pascal, if there was a player that he wanted at 7 that he wasn’t willing to give up, so he kind of gave me the nod and we went and talked it over, made sure we were on the same page, and then we were able to do it pretty quickly.”

There's a whole lot more to discuss from the draft, so let's dive into more reactions from Marmer, plus profiles of each new player and quotes from those in attendance.

Draft in Review: Danielle Marmer’s Thoughts

Marmer kicked off her post-draft media availability by detailing what she and her staff identified as needs going into it, and how she thought they fared.

“Going into this draft, I think we needed a dynamic forward who played with pace and has a high hockey IQ," said Marmer. "I think we found that with Hannah Bilka. And then, we definitely wanted to add to our back end, and we’re looking for a player who plays aggressively, who has a willingness to impact, who skates very well and can transition and with Daniela Pejšová, that was exciting to be able to trade up to pick her. Didn’t think going into this weekend or this week that that was going to be an option for us, and happy that we were able to work with New York to trade up for that pick.”

Marmer was later asked whether she was concerned about sacrificing the middle of the draft to get Pejšová, but she said she already liked her team’s depth so it wasn’t a big concern.

“That was intentional, because we feel so good about the depth that we have in Boston,” said Marmer. “The players that we have, and a lot of that, you know, credit to how we did in the last year’s draft and feeling like these are players who we want to continue to work with and want to build with, and [like we] just needed a couple pieces to round out our group. So that was the purpose for that.”

Finally, Marmer was asked to elaborate on why getting more transitional defenders was such a focus for her in this draft. She acknowledged that her team scored the fewest goals in the regular season, but felt it wasn’t all on the forwards, so she got some puck-moving defenders to support them.

“We felt like, while we were missing some pieces up front, a big piece of that was actually just breaking the puck out consistently, being able to transition quickly, having D that move the puck well,” said Marmer. “I think with Bard and Hartmetz, they do that really well. They activate offensively, they’ll join the rush, and they’ll move the puck quickly, and make good decisions with it.

Player Profiles and Reactions

Now, let's take a closer look at the newest members of PWHL Boston.

Round 1, Pick 4: Hannah Bilka- F (Ohio State University, NCAA) 

From left to right, King, Bilka, and Kloss pose on stage while holding a wooden PWHL Boston draft stick.
Hannah Bilka poses with a draft stick with Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss. Photo by Heather Pollock.

Boston needed a creative player who could feed their goal scorers the puck, and that’s exactly what they got in Bilka. She is one of the game’s most crafty players, and her speed and tenacity on the puck make her a force to be reckoned with whenever she's on the ice. She is an elusive skater with a high hockey IQ, who can score just as well as she can dish the puck. All told, she possesses a lethal skill set that should allow her to excel in the PWHL. 

“She’s an incredibly dynamic skater,” said Marmer. “She drives D back and she can do it with incredible vision and incredible playmaking ability, and I think that’s a piece that we’re missing. Somebody’s that going to be hard F1 on forecheck, who can win pucks back and can hang on to plays through the neutral zone on entry and allow plays to develop. We’ve got so many talented goal scorers on our team, and now we have the player to get them the puck.”

Bilka also met with the media and shared her excitement about returning to Boston to start her professional career. She spent four seasons at Boston College before transferring to Ohio State last season to chase a national championship in her final year of eligibility.

“I love the city,” said Bilka. “It’s my favorite city, probably ever. And I think the fans were electric. That final game, they sold out that rink, so just really excited to go to such a skilled team and then also just a passionate fanbase.”

Round 2, Pick 7: Daniela Pejšová- D (Luleå HF, SDHL)

From left to right: Marmer, Pejšová and Kasten pose on stage holding a wooden PWHL Boston draft stick.
Daniela Pejšová poses with a draft stick alongside Danielle Marmer and Stan Kasten. Photo by Heather Pollock.

Boston acted aggressively to get Pejšová, sacrificing the middle of the draft to get her. It was a gamble that will almost certainly pay off. At just 19 years old, Pejšová was named the best defender at the 2022 IIHF World Championship, and now at 21, she was on the top pairing of one of the SDHL’s best teams. Pejšová will be one of the youngest players in the PWHL next season (if not the youngest), but she’s already an experienced pro after spending six seasons in the SDHL, and she should only keep improving. She is an evasive skater with excellent puck-moving skills, which make her great at transition, and she also likes to play physically. 

Pejšová was still basking in the moment when she arrived at the podium for her post-draft media availability.

“It feels amazing,” said Pejšová. “I still can’t believe that it’s true. I still remember the day when I put my name into the draft and I didn’t know what was coming and I definitely didn’t expect this.”

When asked what drew her to the PWHL, Pejšová cited the smaller rink and increased intensity as a big draw.

“I mean, it’s good," said Pejšová. "It’s [a] different rink, smaller rink, so it’s going to be very fast, very physical, loaded with great players, like the greatest on the planet. So yeah, I’m expecting just good things.”

Round 4, Pick 22: Sydney Bard- D (Colgate University, NCAA)

Bard poses with a draft stick on stage alongside family and Marmer. Bard is the middle, with two people on each side of her. Marmer is on the far right.
Sydney Bard poses with a draft stick alongside family and Danielle Marmer. Photo courtesy of @PWHL_Boston/X.

Boston continued to address their need for more transitional defenders by taking Bard. Be it by passing the puck or skating it, transition is the name of her game. However, that’s not all Bard is good at. While defending, she has great gap control and an active stick, and isn’t afraid to engage physically despite being on the smaller side (EliteProspects lists her at just 5’3”).

Bard spoke with the media after the draft and shared what was going through her head when she heard her name called.

“Honestly I didn’t have a lot of thoughts,” said Bard. “I just kind of blacked out a little bit when I heard my name. But...so happy to be here, share the day with my family, and I think Boston has a lot to offer. The fanbase has been so inspiring to see as a player coming into the league, and I’m just grateful to be a part of trying to grow that and grow women’s hockey and grow the game in general.”

She was later asked what she was most looking forward to about joining PWHL Boston.

“We had a lot of great conversations coming into draft day,” said Bard. “I just think the leadership on the team from Knight and all the other players and the coaching staff. There’s so much to learn and grow as a player and develop and just trying to reach my ceiling and try to do what I can to help Boston be most successful.”

Round 6, Pick 34: Shay Maloney- F (Leksands IF, SDHL)

Maloney was a bit of a surprise pick here, but given the Quinnipiac connections with her and Marmer (who is a QU alum and their former director of player development and operations), it’s not a huge surprise to see Marmer take a chance on a fellow former Bobcat late. Maloney is billed as a responsible player with offensive upside. She played in the SDHL last season, producing 20 points in 36 games, after tallying 80 points in 126 career NCAA games across five seasons with Brown and Quinnipiac.

“She’s somebody who I remember how excited that staff was to get her as a fifth year player,” said Marmer. “She is a power forward style, she’s a detailed player…she’s going to be F1 on our forecheck, she’s gonna battle, [and] she’s gonna be responsible with the puck.”

Round 7, Pick 37: Ilona Markova- F (Agidel UFA, ZhHL)

While they made flashier picks earlier, Markova is perhaps Boston’s most interesting draftee. She’s also a historic one, as she became the first Russian drafted to the PWHL, and should she get a contract, she will be the first Russian to play in the league. The 22-year-old is a skilled player with lots of potential,  but she flew under the radar this draft due to playing in the Russian women’s hockey league, the ZhHL, which does not get scouted heavily. She has not played internationally since the 2021 World Championships thanks to contracting COVID days before the 2022 Olympics and now Russia’s ban from IIHF competition following the invasion of Ukraine.

There are concerns about Markova’s ability to get a visa to play in North America, which my colleague Simon Hopkins talked about more in-depth in his feature on her. However, the league assured Marmer that wouldn’t be an issue. As long as that’s the case, Markova could end up being a steal. She tallied 40 points in 42 regular season games in the ZhHL before adding 10 points in seven playoff games. While the PWHL will be a large step up, Markova should be able to be at least a solid depth contributor, and perhaps more once she adjusts.

After the draft, Marmer was asked about her thought process late in the draft, and whether having the extra pick in the late round made her more comfortable drafting Markova given the visa questions.

“Yeah, with the trade with picks with New York, we know that we were going to have a few at the back end of the draft,” said Marmer. “[We] figured that would be an ideal place to go for a player that we might have a little bit of an issue getting the visa situation going and getting her over here. But I know that the league is already working on it and we’re going to do our best to make sure that she can play next season because she is an incredible talented hockey player as well and a goal scorer and somebody who I think is a sleeper pick.”

Round 7, Pick 40: Hadley Hartmetz- D (Ohio State University, NCAA)

Hartmetz was the seventh of eight Ohio State players picked in the draft. She was arguably their #2 defender behind Cayla Barnes, who went fifth overall. She’s a strong offensive defender, with 33 points in 39 regular season games this season. Hartmetz is also solid in the defensive zone and a responsible player overall, taking just four penalties all season despite playing big, often tough minutes. She was injured in the NCAA championship game and reportedly faces a recovery timeline that gave teams pause, but once healthy, this could be a sneaky good pick.

Hartmetz was at the draft and gave the media an evaluation of her game in her post-draft availability.

“I would say I’m a two-way defenseman,” said Hartmetz. “I like to join the offense [and] use my skating ability, which is probably one of my best aspects of my game. [I] like to get shots through but also be tough to play against and play solid D.”

Marmer was also asked about the pick during her availability, and whether Hartmetz was someone she looked at for the long-term ceiling once she’s healthy.

“Yeah I was surprised she was there that late,” said Marmer. “I think you measure all the talks of her being one of the top two D at Ohio State and I think when she gets healthy, she’s going to have an impact and be able to impact in this league. So we’re excited about being able to get her, I think we stole her.”