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The inaugural PWHL draft is on Monday, and that means it’s mock draft season. There is no shortage of talent available, with 236 players declared for the 15-round, 90-pick draft. With so many options and so few picks, every team will have tough decisions to make as they look to build the best team possible while making sure they have a balanced roster.
Boston holds the third overall pick in the draft. During free agency, they signed franchise cornerstones Hilary Knight (RW), Megan Keller (LD), and Aerin Frankel (G). With so many players to choose from, it is hard to narrow down who Boston might pick first come Monday. Here are some of their best options at each remaining position to create the best top-line and defense pairing possible.
Center | Alina Müller, ZSC Lions Frauen (SWHL)
Müller is a generational talent. She first made a name for herself at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where at just 15 years old, she scored the bronze-medal-winning goal for Switzerland and became the youngest ice hockey player ever to win a medal. She then went on to play at Northeastern, where her 156 career assists smashed the program’s former all-time assists record of 119. Müller was a huge part of the reason Northeastern has made three straight Frozen Four appearances.
The two-time Patty Kazmaier award finalist is currently playing over in Switzerland while awaiting the start of the PWHL season. At 25 years old, if she stays healthy, Müller will be a star in the league for a long time. She and Frankel know each other well from their three seasons together at Northeastern, and the pair could make excellent long-term franchise cornerstones.
If Müller is still on the board when the third pick rolls around, Boston would do well to snatch her up.
Left Wing | Loren Gabel, Boston Pride (PHF)
Gabel enters this draft on a high note after being named the PHF’s most valuable player, outstanding player of the year, and newcomer of the year. She scored at nearly a goal-per-game pace, and she led the league in all scoring categories with 20 goals, 20 assists, and 40 points. Prior to that, Gabel spent three seasons with the PWHPA after completing her decorated collegiate career at Clarkson as the program’s all-time leading scorer. She also won the 2019 Patty Kazmaier Award as the best Division I collegiate women’s hockey player.
Gabel’s speed combined with her killer shot makes her a threat every time she steps on the ice. At 26 years old, Gabel will be a star for years if she stays healthy, just like Müller. With all of her recent and past honors, she will be highly sought at the draft, but should she be around come Boston’s second pick, they would be foolish not to take her.
Right Defense- Kali Flanagan, Boston Pride (PHF)
Underrated throughout her career, Flanagan is coming off a career year after her second season with the Pride, in which she was named PHF defender of the year. An excellent two-way presence, Flanagan’s 16 points provided crucial offense from the back end that helped make the Pride such an offensive threat last season. In her first season with the Pride, Flanagan played a vital role in the Pride’s back-to-back Isobel Cup win, with two goals and three assists in their three playoff games. Prior to joining the Pride, she spent two seasons with the PWHPA.
In addition to her professional experience, Flanagan has represented the U.S. on the national stage. She was a member of the gold-medal-winning 2017 IIHF World Championship and 2018 Olympics teams. She spent her college career at Boston College, where she is tied for the most career games in program history with 157. While Flanagan may not seem like the flashiest pick, her wealth of experience and excellent two-way game would be a huge boost to any team’s defensive corps. A Massachusetts native, she is sure to want to stick around Boston, and they would be smart to oblige.
PWHL Boston is off to a hot start with their free-agent signings, but Pride left big shoes to fill, so the newcomers will also have to draft smart. With players coming from so many backgrounds, and given the tense PHF/PWHPA relationship, team chemistry is going to be just as important in the PWHL as talent.
In addition to being talented enough to build a team around, all of the players above have ties to at least one other. All of them have played in the area before and have demonstrated a desire to stay there. All of them have leadership experience, serving as captains on their respective college teams. If PWHL Boston wants to build another perennial contender like its predecessors, these are all qualities they should be looking for come Monday, and these players would start them off with a bang.
The PWHL Draft will take place at the CBC Headquarters in Toronto on Monday, September 18 at 1 p.m. The draft will be live-streamed on CBC Sports in Canada, and international audiences can watch via the CBC Sports and Radio-Canada YouTube pages.