NWHL Mock Expansion Draft: The Toronto Edition

The NWHL doesn’t do expansion drafts. But what if it did?

An expansion draft doesn’t work for the NWHL as things stand today. Until the league can offer players enough money for them to agree to pack up and move wherever, trades of players and expansion draft setups are purely hypothetical. But, hey, you can only refresh Twitter so many time (seriously, get off Twitter, just trust me).

What could an expansion draft look like, in a universe where we could have one for Toronto?

First, we’d need to assume that all players under contract from last season are under contract through next season. Next we’ll need expansion draft rules.

Last season, the NWHL rosters had 25 players on them, but teams only dressed 20 or 21 at a time. So let’s say they can protect six forwards, three defenders, and one goalie. Here’s a stab at what those protected lists might look like:

Buffalo Beauts

Protected: Taylor Accursi (F), Corinne Buie (F), Mikyla Grant-Mentis (F), Kristin Lewicki (F), Iveta Klimášová (F), Brooke Stacey (F), Marie-Jo Pelletier (D), Lenka Čurmová (D), Sarah Casorso (D), Léa-Kristine Demers (G)

Unprotected: Ashley Birdsall (D/F), Becki Bowering (F), Kim Brown (F), Sara Bustad (D/F), Erin Gehen (F), Nikki Kirchberger (F), Cassidy MacPherson (F), Maddie Norton (F), Emma Ruggiero (F), Kandice Sheriff (F), Mariah Fujimagari (G), Kelsey Neumann (G), Tiffany Hsu (G)

Toronto’s Selection: This is a tough one. On one hand, Mariah Fujimagari is a pretty solid goaltender from the Toronto area (Markham specifically), and it would be cool to bring her home. On the other hand, Toronto already has a great young goalie in Chuli and presumably could find a backup or tandem partner for her without using an expansion draft selection on it.  Ultimately, I think the best choice is Cassidy MacPherson. The Ontario native had a very solid college career at Providence and a quietly underrated season with Buffalo last year in spite of the young team’s struggles.

Boston Pride

Protected: McKenna Brand (F), Jillian Dempsey (F), Christina Putigna (F), Lexie Laing (F), Tori Sullivan (F), Mary Parker (F), Kaleigh Fratkin (D), Mallory Soulioutis (D), Lauren Kelly (D), Lovisa Selander (G)

Unprotected: Emily Fluke (F), Jordan Juron (F), Marisa Raspa (F), Whitney Renn (D/F), Carlee Toews (F), Alyssa Wohlfeiler (F), Lexi Bender (D), Briana Mastel (D), Jena Rheault (D), Victoria Hanson (G), Christina England (G)

Toronto’s Selection: There really is no wrong answer here. Again, taking a goaltender makes little sense based on what Toronto already has going. Jenna Rheault would be a great choice; she’s a versatile defender with more offensive upside than we got to see last season with the Pride. The Pride roster is so stacked that she saw less ice time than she might in Toronto, where she could even be a top-pair defender, now that she has a season in the league under her belt. Pairing her with someone who tends to favor offense would balance a starting D pair well.

Connecticut Whale

Protected: Janine Weber (F), Emma Vlasic (F), Allie LaCombe (F), Kaycie Anderson (F), Katelynn Russ (F), Grace Kleinbach (F), Shannon Doyle (D), Elena Orlando (D), Jordan Brickner (D), Brooke Wolejko (G)

Unprotected: Cassandra Goyette (G), Sonija Shelly (G), Brinna Dockniak (D), Erin Hall (D), Laurel Hill (D), Taylor Marchin (D), Alexa Aramburu (F), Hanna Beattie (F), Maddie Evangelous (F), Elena Gualtieri (F), Sarah Hughson (F), Kayla Meneghin (F), Jane Morrisette (F), Haley Payne (F), Sarah Schwenzfeier (F)

Toronto’s Selection: Kayla Meneghin is an underrated player, even on the Whale. I think picking her or Schwenzfeier would give Toronto some great depth at forward, but I lean towards Meneghin, whose game is particularly gritty and physical, ideal for rounding out a forward group that already has some speed and soft hands in Darkangelo and Woods.

Metropolitan Riveters

Protected: Madison Packer (F), Kendall Cornine (F), Kate Leary (F), Cailey Hutchison (F), Mallory Rushton (F), Tatiana Shatalova (F), Ashley Johnston (D), Rebecca Morse (D), Kiira Dosdall-Arena (D), Sam Walther (G)

Unprotected: Brooke Avery (F), Brooke Baker (F), Haley Frade (F), Bulbul Kartanbay (F), Kelly Nash (F), Nicole Arnold (D/F), Cassie Dunne (D), Anna Keys (D), Leila Kilduff (D), Jayne Lewis (D/F), Colleen Murphy (D), Abby Niewchas (D), Nichelle Simon (D), Dana DeMartino (G), Zoe Zisis (G)

Toronto’s Selection: There are a couple of really good choices here, but in my opinion if Kelly Nash is available, you have to take her. An expansion team needs a lot of things, but what really sets a brand new team on the right track is veteran leadership. Nash has NCAA coaching experience and three seasons of experience with the Riveters. She’s an extremely well-respected player who can and will guide a team and help shape the locker room.

Minnesota Whitecaps

Protected: Jonna Curtis (F), Allie Thunstrom (F), Nicole Schammel (F), Meaghan Pezon (F), Stephanie Anderson (F), Audra Richards (F), Sydney Baldwin (D), Amanda Boulier (D), Winny Brodt-Brown (D), Amanda Leveille (G)

Unprotected: Lauren Barnes (F), Sam Donovan (F), Kalli Funk (F), Meghan Lorence (F), Nina Rodgers (F), Haylea Schmid (F), Brooke White-Lancette (F), Rose Alleva (D), Chelsey Brodt-Rosenthal (D), Kelsey Cline (D), Lisa Martinson (D), Emma Stauber (D), Allie Morse (G)

Toronto’s Selection: To me this is a no-brainer. If Meghan Lorence is available—and I think one of either her or Pezon would have to be—you have to take her. Lorence had 21 points in 24 games, almost equally split between goals and assists. You could drop her onto a first or second line no problem.