NWHL Free Agency: August Update
August saw the most signings of the off-season thus far
NWHL teams were super busy in August. The third month of free agency saw 38 signings (compared to 26 in June and 23 in July), the most of all three months. Eighty-eight players are now under contract.
Of the 38 signings, 17 of them are first-year NWHL players. Two players will be with new teams from last season.
* - first year player ** - signed with different team than last season
Forwards: Emily Field, Dana Trivigno, Denisa Krizova*, Haley Skarupa, Jillian Dempsey, McKenna Brand*, Amanda Pelkey, Taylor Wasylk*, Gigi Marvin, Mary Parker, Jordan Smelker
Defenders: Alyssa Gagliardi, Toni Ann Miano*, Lauren Kelly*, Lexi Bender, Kaleigh Fratkin, Mallory Souliotis, Kaliya Johnson
Goaltenders: Katie Burt*
The Pride’s blue line is taking shape
The Pride signed a whooping 13 players in August, including three returning Olympians in Haley Skarupa, Amanda Pelkey, and Gigi Marvin. Combined with the large crew from last season — including last season’s captain Jillian Dempsey, Jordan Smelker, Lexi Bender, and Kaleigh Fratkin — the Pride are building a strong core. They also added three strong first year players: Denisa Krizova, McKenna Brand, and Taylor Wasylk, who comes to the Pride from the CWHL.
The one position they didn’t improve: goalie. While Boston College alumna Katie Burt had a great college career, the Pride could use a veteran goaltender.
Forwards: Hayley Scamurra, Maddie Elia, Dani Cameranesi*, Kelly Babstock**, Corinne Buie, Julianna Iafallo*, Annika Zalewski*, Jordan Juron, Emily Janiga**, Taylor Accursi
Defenders: Lisa Chesson, Savannah Harmon*, Jacquie Greco, Sarah Edney, Sarah Casorso, Jordyn Burns, Blake Bolden**, Emily Pfalzer
Goaltenders: Nicole Hensley*, Julie DiTondo, Shannon Szabados*
Emily Pfalzer headlines Buffalo’s stacked blue line
The Beauts added five players, but with those five players, they continued to make a huge splash. First, they re-signed a trio from last season, adding to their large returning core. Next came the news that Blake Bolden would come back to the NWHL after a season in Switzerland, and not to the Pride, but to the Beauts. Then it was Emily Pfalzer signing with her pre-Olympics team. Four of the five players were defenders, making the possibility of scoring goals on the Beauts even harder.
Forwards: Emily Fluke, Sarah Hughson*, Randi Griffin*, Michelle Lowenhielm*, Katerina Mrazova*, Sarah Schwenzfeier*, Nina Rodgers*
Defenders: Rachael Ade, Hanna Beattie, Cydney Roesler, Shannon Doyle, Kaycie Anderson
Goaltenders: Sam Walther*
The Whale also signed five players in August, though they’re still missing some fire power. BU alumna Nina Rodgers is a good addition. She had a strong junior season, but was quiet in her senior season. The Whale also brought back defenders Cydney Roesler, though as a player-coach this season, and Shannon Doyle.
Perhaps the bigger issue is who the Whale has lost: goaltender Sydney Rossman and defender Amanda Boulier both went to the Whitecaps and Anya Battaglino retired. To be frank, the Whale need some help in all positions.
Why the Connecticut Whale should pursue Meeri Räisänen
Forwards: Amanda Kessel, Kelly Nash, Rebecca Morse, Audra Richards*, Miye D’Oench, Rebecca Russo, Kristin Lewicki**, Fiona McKenna*, Madison Packer
Defenders: Jenny Ryan, Courtney Burke, Michelle Picard, Chelsea Ziadie*, Kelsey Koelzer, Lexi Slattery*, Kiira Dosdall
Goaltenders: Katie Fitzgerald, Kimberly Sass, Sarah Bryant
Five was the magic number for signings in August, as the Riveters also signed five players. There were questions as to if some of their stars would return, namely Madison Packer. It was a relief for fans of the reigning Isobel Champions when she, Kiira Dosdall, and Kelsey Koezler re-signed. Their two first year signees have experience with their teammates from college, giving both a leg up on joining a new team in a new league.
Forwards: Hannah Brandt*, Kate Schipper*, Kendall Coyne Schofield*, Allie Thunstrom*, Meaghan Pezon*, Amanda Boulier**, Jonna Curtis*, Brooke White-Lancette*, Amy Menke*, Sadie Lundquist*, Lauren Barnes*
Defenders: Lee Stecklein*, Emma Stauber*
Goaltenders: Amanda Leveille**, Sydney Rossman**, Julie Friend*
The Whitecaps added 11 players to their roster in August. All but two of the players are first year NWHL players, though those nine players all played for the Whitecaps prior. Three of them are listed as forward/defenders, so while the newest NWHL team looks short on defenders, they most likely aren’t.
The other two — Amanda Boulier and Sydney Rossman — are heading west from the Whale in what’s possibly a bigger loss for the Whale than addition to the Whitecaps. Anticipate seeing Leveille and Rossman split starts since the Whitecaps will be playing back-to-backs all season.