2024 PWHL Toronto Season Recap: Greatness Fell Just Shy of Final

PWHL Toronto dominated the regular season but could not find success late in the playoffs.

2024 PWHL Toronto Season Recap: Greatness Fell Just Shy of Final
Photo courtesy of the PWHL from Game 20 on 1/26/24 vs. New York

PWHL Toronto made a lot of history this season, starting with playing in the first ever PWHL game on New Year's Day to winning the regular season and having the league's best player during the regular season with Natalie Spooner.

While Toronto could not hit their groove in the playoffs, they will be remembered as a powerhouse in the inaugural PWHL season.


Toronto went 17-7-0 in the regular season with four of those wins coming in overtime. They were the only team in the PWHL to not have a regular season overtime loss.

Toronto then went 2-2-1 in the first round of the playoffs where they faced Minnesota who ultimately won the Walter Cup. Toronto shut out Minnesota in the first two games of the series before falling in three straight, including their first overtime loss ever in Game 4.

Team MVP: Natalie Spooner

The team MVP and likely the league's MVP is undoubtably Natalie Spooner. Spooner led the league in goals with 20, points with 27, and power play goals with 7. Only Spooner and Marie-Philip Poulin averaged over a point per game this year and Spooner still got the first place edge with three more games played than Poulin.

While her accolades this season don't need to be emphasized with anything but the numbers to prove her status, it is notable that at 33 years old, Spooner achieved all of this as someone in the top ten oldest players in the league. She was also just about a year removed from giving birth to her son when she headed into the season with Toronto.

Spooner is a finalist for multiple PWHL awards this season, including the Billie Jean King MVP Award and Forward of the Year. She was named in the 'Three Stars of the Week' five times, which is more than any other player in the league.

Top Rookie: Emma Maltais

Emma Maltais easily clocks in as Toronto's best rookie and makes a good case for being one of the best rookies in the league this season. Her 19 points had her tied for the most rookie points this year, alongside Minnesota's Grace Zumwinkle. She also tied Zumwinke for the most shorthanded goals by a rookie with two each. Maltais also led rookies in +/- being +7 on the year, which tied her with Boston's Alina Müller.

With less than half the shots than Zumwinkle during the season. Maltais was much more efficient with her scoring in the same amount of games, despite her and her teammate Jesse Compher making up two thirds of the top three rookie PIM leaders. Maltais also came in the top five rookies in face-off wins.

Maltais, Müller, and Zumwinkle are all up for Rookie of the Year and Maltais' versatility makes her a good candidate for the award.

Who is Still Under Contract?

Toronto should have ten returners next year due to players signing multi-year contracts. With some big names in the mix, it seems likely that Toronto will return to the top of the standings in the PWHL's second season despite having the last pick in the draft order.

Natalie Spooner, Kali Flanagan, Jesse Compher, and Maggie Connors should all be returning with one year left on their contracts. Sarah Nurse, Renata Fast, Jocelyne Larocque, Blayre Turnbull, Emma Maltais, and goaltender Kristen Campbell should be returning for two more seasons.

Biggest Surprise

With such stacked lineups on every team and considering how difficult it is to make a roster in this league, it feels odd to describe anyone in particular as a big surprise. We all knew the talent and how deep it runs going into this season.

Looking at the Toronto roster, there's a lot of big names that we've seen on national teams, winning NCAA rosters, and successful PHF teams. With that, I think I have to make my biggest surprise of the season, not a player, but a lack of big numbers coming from deep in the lineup. Toronto found a lot of success this season but wouldn't have been able to do that without the heavy hitting top three players in Spooner, Sarah Nurse, and goaltender Kristen Campbell who kept them in a lot of games. This is apparent in how their performance diminished after Spooner was sidelined in the playoffs after taking a rough hit during Game 3 of the semi-finals.

Spooner and Nurse combined for a total of 31 goals and were the only two players on the roster to hit double digits in goals. Spooner's seven power play goals and Nurse's seven power play assists lead their respective categories by a large margin. In fact, the only scoring stat that isn't led by one of those two players is assists where Emma Maltais had a three-point edge over Nurse.

Players like Blayre Turnbull, Brittany Howard, and Renata Fast all had objectively good seasons but in the future, I expect them to bridge the gap between the team's top scorers and the rest of the lineup next year. It became all too apparent that a hot or cold streak could really make or break it for a team in this league, and if Nurse or Spooner end up cold, Toronto will need someone else to step up which they just lacked late in the season this time around.

*Stats taken from the PWHL website.