BREAKING: PWHL Boston Re-Signs Four Skaters

PWHL Boston took care of business by locking up four of their free agents this afternoon.

BREAKING: PWHL Boston Re-Signs Four Skaters
Hannah Brandt celebrates a regular season win over Minnesota. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

This afternoon, PWHL Boston announced that they re-signed four free agents. Forwards Hannah Brandt and Sophie Shirley and defender Emily Brown have all been locked up for the next two seasons, while defender Sidney Morin earned another one-year contract. 

Today was the last day of the exclusive re-signing window for teams to bring back their free agents, so it’s not surprising to see Boston make some moves. Boston general manager Danielle Marmer appears to have prioritized players who maybe weren’t the flashiest but could be used up and down the lineup and in all situations. Considering the likely high roster turnover across the league, having players right off the bat that you know you can trust anywhere at any time will be a big boost. 

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In my season wrap-up story, I identified Brandt and Brown as the top two priority players for Boston to re-sign. Brandt ended the season on the second line with Hilary Knight and Jamie Lee Rattray while contributing five goals (including many at clutch moments) and five assists in 24 regular season games. She also added a goal and an assist in eight playoff games. However, her versatility was her most valuable trait, and Boston deployed her in all situations on any line without fear. When hand injuries slowed Brandt down significantly in the playoffs, her diminished impact was felt throughout the lineup. 

“Hannah is a player with a wealth of experience playing at the highest levels,” said Marmer in a press release. “Her elite hockey sense and her leadership on and off the ice make her an invaluable member of our group. We look forward to her contributing significantly to our team’s success.” 

Brown leans into a shot follow through. She is wearing a white away jersey and patrolling the left side of the blue line.
Emily Brown takes a shot during a game against Minnesota. Photo by Kelly Hagenson/PWHL.

As for Brown, she was a great compliment to Megan Keller on the team’s top pair, as the stay-at-home defender can big, tough minutes while allowing Keller the freedom to jump in to the offense more. Brown is never going to be a high-octane offensive player, but she still contributed one goal and three assists in 24 regular season games and two assists in eight playoff games, both of which were second on Boston’s defense (which is not a great statistic for them). However, every team needs a strong stay-at-home defender that they can deploy anywhere at any time, and Brown is exactly that.

“Emily is a steady and reliable presence on D and brings a hard-to-play-against style,” said Marmer. “She is a key member of our D-core and we’re excited to see her continue to raise her game.” 

Meanwhile, Shirley also performed well this season, especially considering she was fresh out of college. She lost four games in the middle of the season due to injury which slowed her down a bit, but the 24-year-old remained a reliable depth skater with the ability to play up and down the lineup. She didn’t produce a ton offensively, with three goals and two assists in 20 regular season games and one goal and one assist in eight playoff games. However, most of Boston’s offense struggled last season, and Shirley has a lot of potential to grow in that area with a less discombobulated supporting cast. 

“After an impactful rookie season, I have no doubt that Sophie has the potential to be an elite player in this league for many years to come,” said Marmer. “Sophie is an incredibly dynamic skater and has high-end offensive instincts. We look forward to supporting her development and we’re excited to see her continue to elevate her game here in Boston.” 

Finally, Morin ended up on the team’s third pair by the end of the season, but it was more due to who other players fit best with than poor play. She still averaged 18:31 TOI in the regular season and 22:03 in the playoffs, which are higher than your typical third-pairing defender. Like all of Boston’s re-signings, Morin’s most valuable attribute is versatility. However, in a smaller role, Morin managed to chip in identical offense to Brown, so one wonders what she could’ve done if she had been played in a few more offensive situations.

“Sid is another player with extensive experience at the highest levels,” said Marmer. “She adds an offensive dimension to our backend as a great puck mover and transporter, playing fast in transition.” 

Overall, this was a strong cohort of re-signings for Marmer. These moves give Boston 13 skaters and two goaltenders under contract for next season, which is a good amount to ensure enough roster stability while also creating heavy competition for spots in training camp. Marmer also focused on the right kind of players, since having players you can trust anywhere will be vital while the new faces find their fit on the team (and in the case of the draftees, the league). Notably, none of these contracts are guaranteed per the league CBA, but barring any surprising lack of training, it's a safe bet these players will stick on Boston's roster again given what they showed last season.