The PWHL drops the puck on its inaugural season on January 1, and while everyone tuning in surely knows who Hilary Knight, Marie-Philip Poulin, and Sarah Nurse are, there will be plenty of other players who will be making an impact for their respective teams worth keeping an eye on. These players also won’t be suiting up for their respective National Teams - but maybe a strong season could earn them invites in the future. Maybe.
We picked one player from each team and four of the six we selected went undrafted, and earned a contract with a strong training camp. They weren’t guaranteed anything, may not get the most minutes, score the most goals, or make the most saves this season, but if their number is called they could become impactful players - as they have shown in the past.
They’re also easy people to root for, too! So, double bonus.
And just because we are who we are, we picked a starting lineup of three forwards, two defenders, and one goalie.
Montreal: defender Mariah Keopple earned a spot as an undrafted free agent after a stellar collegiate career at Princeton University and with a strong group of forwards in front of her she should be able to find her game early while becoming a reliable player for the coaching staff to lean on in all situations.
Boston: forward Taylor Wenczkowski earned a spot as an undrafted free agent after three seasons with the Boston Pride in the NWHL/PHF. The two-time Isobel Cup champion also won the Playoff MVP in 2022 and had the Cup-winning goal in each championship. Wenczkowski had previously re-signed for two years with the Pride and likely has a chip on her shoulder after not being drafted.
Minnesota: forward Brittyn Fleming earned a spot as an undrafted free agent after one season with the Minnesota Whitecaps in the PHF. After scoring three goals in 24 regular season games she stepped up with two big goals in three playoff games and like Wenczkowski, she had re-signed for two more years with the Whitecaps prior to the PWHL being created.
New York: forward Emma Woods earned a spot after being drafted 81st overall (Round 14) by the New York team playing in Connecticut (where she played collegiately at Quinnipiac). She previously played three seasons in the PHF with the Toronto Six, one season in the SDHL, and two seasons in the CWHL and in all of those seasons Woods was not only a consistent scorer, but also a balanced one. She was an alternate captain for the Six since their creation and was a big reason why they won the final Isobel Cup. Like Wenczkowski, Woods is a prime-time player.
Ottawa: goalie Rachel McQuigge earned a spot as an undrafted free agent after one season with the Metropolitan Riveters in the PHF. While she was limited to only eight games because of a mid-season injury, McQuigge showed her skills and talent level in every appearance. There is no doubt she will push for playing time in Canada’s capital as she did for the Rivs.
Toronto: defender Allie Munroe earned a spot after being drafted 50th overall (Round 9) by Toronto. She previously played two seasons for the Connecticut Whale and had signed a lucrative deal for the upcoming season that never was. Munroe also has two years of pro experience playing in Sweden and will be a major asset on what looks like (on paper) a really deep defense corps. She can play in all situations and was one of the PHF’s best passers in her two seasons.