Noora Räty | goaltender
I think the obvious rebuttal to this choice is that she’s 34. And yes, she is definitely on the older side of the draft. But, that doesn’t mean she isn’t a solid choice, and I’m surprised that she wasn’t drafted, even towards the end of the rounds. Like come on, she’s got seven medals in international competition.
I fully think Noora will get picked up at training camp because she makes a very solid backup or third-string goalie, with tons of experience at this level.
If I was a younger goalie, I would kill to learn from someone who’s as experienced and skilled as Noora. And, she’s proven that she can play well against any of the World Championship players and Olympians. There’s a reasons she hasn’t retired yet and I hope a team gets lucky enough to sign her.
Becca Gilmore | forward
That the only current member of Team USA to go undrafted also happens to be the only one who played in the PHF last season is not, in my opinion, a coincidence. North American national team players who opted to play in the PWHPA instead of in the NWHL/PHF were noticeably rewarded in the draft and while it's not a surprise to anyone familiar with the unspoken yet obvious hierarchical structure of North American women's hockey, it's still unfortunate.
All that said, though, Gilmore had a down year in terms of her production and an injury sidelined her at the 2023 World Championship. Here's hoping for a big year wherever she lands for 2023-2024.
Mikyla Grant-Mentis | forward
I need someone to explain this to me like I'm five. True, Grant-Mentis had an uncharacteristically down year in Buffalo compared to her seasons with the Toronto Six. She also showed her versatility and work ethic, morphing from a purely offensive talent into someone who can kill penalties, block shots, and get gritty when need be. Moreover, on a young and poorly coached Beauts squad, she still led the team in points (21) and did the best she possibly could with what she was given. So for her to slip completely off the board without anyone even so much as leaving a late-round spot open for her is... a choice.
Then again, this is the same Mikyla Grant-Mentis who has been paid dust by Hockey Canada, only being invited to one camp in the past three seasons or so and never getting so much as a sniff of the national team. And for the all-time leading scorer at Merrimack and first-ever Black woman to win the PHF's MVP trophy (in her rookie year, mind you) to be so snubbed just speaks volumes of not the talent pool, but the politics of it all. To say nothing of the fact that Grant-Mentis is 25 years old and I don't think she has even reached her full potential yet as a player. She played center in Buffalo but thrives completely on the wing, and I find it hard to believe a team couldn't do a little research and realize what an asset she is.
(Side note, Sophie Jaques was the sole Black player to be drafted by the PWHL. Just saying. Grant-Mentis and Saroya Tinker were right there. Just saying.)
Jonna Albers | forward
You know that question, what have you done for me lately? Look at Albers' performance in the 2023 PHF playoffs – five goals and an assist in 3 GP. She's also coming off back-to-back 20-point seasons with the Whitecaps and averaged 1.00 Pts/GP across the past two seasons. That puts her in an elite class of productive forwards in the PHF. For whatever reason, Albers (like Mikyla Grant-Mentis and Madison Packer) was one of the members of that elite group who did not hear her name called on draft day.
In my opinion, she should have been a lock for PWHL Minnesota. Albers is on the right side of 30, she can kill penalties, and she adds speed to any lineup. There are few players who have shined as brightly as she has without getting a nod from the national team. Recently, news has surfaced that she is retiring. It's not hard to connect the dots here and, to state the obvious, it feels bad. Albers deserved better. She is one hell of a hockey player.