Kaliya Johnson signs with Boston Pride

The NWHL’s 2017 unrestricted free agency period has officially begun and Kaliya Johnson is the first player to stay in the league and switch jerseys.

Johnson, a 22-year-old rookie defender with the Connecticut Whale last season, signed with the Boston Pride today. Johnson was injured last season but still picked up three assists in 14 games in Connecticut.

“I had a great time with the Whale, but my home and job are in Boston, so going to the Pride is a personal decision,” Johnson shared in the league’s press release. “I’m excited about the potential of getting the Isobel Cup back to Boston. You can’t win games without strong defense, and that’s what building with Thomas Poeck as head coach.”

Johnson played her college hockey with the BC Eagles, so she has plenty of ties to the Boston area. The Arizona-born Johnson had 43 points in 142 NCAA Division I hockey games including 17 in her senior season.

The Johnson signing looks like Boston’s first step towards rebuilding its blue line. The young stalwart defender should help ease the pain of losing Gigi Marvin, Kacey Bellamy and Blake Bolden for the 2017-18 season.