NWHL to hold first International Draft on July 25

Could a new crop of NWHLers be coming from overseas?

The National Women’s Hockey League will be hosting its first International Draft on Saturday, July 25 at 1 p.m. on Twitch.

The Draft, touted as the inaugural iteration of what will be an annual event, is a single-round selection process of players over 21 years of age born outside of the United States or Canada with no NCAA or USports experience.

For example: Buffalo’s Lenka Curmova, the NWHL’s press release details, would have been eligible for the International Draft in her rookie year as she was born in Slovakia and played exclusively for Slovakian youth and junior teams before entering the league. Boston’s Lovisa Selander, however, would not be eligible for the International Draft despite being born in Sweden due to her having played collegiate hockey at RPI in the United States.

International players with NCAA or USports experience remain eligible for the NWHL Entry Draft in June. Players eligible for the International Draft that are not selected will become free agents on July 26.

Draft order for the International round has been determined by win percentage during the 2021 Lake Placid season, consistent with the NWHL Draft. The Buffalo Beauts will have the first overall pick, followed by the Connecticut Whale, Boston Pride, Toronto Six, Metropolitan Riveters, and Minnesota Whitecaps.

“The NWHL International Draft will help strengthen league talent and competitiveness while growing professional women’s hockey beyond our North American borders,” said Lisa Haley, the NWHL’s Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations. “This is an event we hope develops over time with unique interest and exposure of our brand overseas and another opportunity to generate excitement for our fans.”

It remains to be seen whether players selected in the International Draft will make the trek to the NWHL. Travel restrictions related to the global pandemic continue to pose an obstacle for any imported player across the hockey landscape. Of note in that regard: former Riveter and Russian forward Tatiana Shatalova has signed in the ZhHL in Traktor, while Czech defender Sammy Kolowrat has signed with Brynäs IF in Sweden’s SDHL.

The five-round 2021 NWHL Draft for NCAA and USports players will be held on June 29 at 7 p.m., also to be streamed on Twitch.