PWHL Ottawa Complete Draft Analysis

An in-depth look at each of Ottawa's seven draft picks at the 2024 PWHL draft.

PWHL Ottawa Complete Draft Analysis
PWHL Ottawa's first pick in the draft was Danielle Serdachny, taken second overall. | Photo via PWHL

The PWHL held its second-ever draft Monday night in Minnesota. Ottawa picked second in the draft and selected a total of seven players.

Ottawa general manager Mike Hirshfeld seemed happy with the results, telling reporters after the draft he liked how the night had gone. "We're thrilled with what happened tonight and the players we were able to add to our organization," he said during the press conference.

Hirshfeld said the team had three priorities at the draft: To get gritter, to add size, and to become tougher on the back end. They also wanted to draft a goalie. Hirshfeld wanted to ensure Ottawa has a healthy corps of defenders heading into training camp. He said he learned from the mistakes of last season when a trade and string of injuries left Ottawa light on the back end.

Here's an in-depth look at all of the picks made by Ottawa at Monday night's draft.

1-2 Danielle Serdachny (F) CAN

NCAA | 23 years old | 5'9"

As was widely predicted, Ottawa selected Serdachny second overall in Monday's draft. Serdachny is originally from Edmonton but played her college hockey in New York State at Colgate University.

Serdachny scored above a point a game in her final three NCAA seasons and, at 23 years old, already has two world championships under her belt with the senior Canadian national team.

She comes from a big hockey family with multiple relatives playing NCAA hockey. Her father was an NHL skating and skills coach, but according to her elite prospects profile, Danielle will be the first in her family to play pro.

Speaking to reporters after being selected, Serdachny said she already knew a handful of PWHL Ottawa players who were her teammates on Team Canada. She specifically listed Brianne Jenner, Emily Clark and Ashton Bell as players she learned from.

Serdachny said she was excited to be headed to a Canadian city with fans like she saw in Ottawa last season. "I'm super excited to be a part of this organization," she told reporters. Serdachny is also familiar with Ottawa's coach, Alberta native Carla MacLeod. MacLeod coached Serdachny on Team Alberta at an inter-provincial under-18 tournament. She seemed eager to be coached by MacLeod in the PWHL.

She considers herself a playmaker, which matches her stats from her college career. Serdachny had 39 assists and 22 goals in last year's 40-game NCAA season. Hirshfeld told reporters that Serdachny was the team's number one target for months because of her current skill and high ceiling. "We're excited to see what's ahead," he said.

2-8 Ronja Savolainen (D) FIN

SDHL | 26 years old | 5'10"

Ottawa took the second European selected in the draft with Ronja Savolainen, a Finnish defender who has played in the Swedish pro league for the last eight seasons. Savolainen is a big defender with a lot of scoring and playmaking ability.

She's played 256 regular season games for Lulea in the SDHL and 64 playoff games. Combined, she scored 263 points over the eight seasons and took 337 penalty minutes: she's a physical player. Savolainen's Elite Prospects profile lists her as 5'10" and 168 lbs. Ottawa manager Mike Hirshfeld told reporters she was one of the players he selected to address some of his size and physicality concerns with Ottawa.

Savolainen is only the second Finnish player selected by a PWHL team in two years. She said she's hopeful more players come to the PWHL, helping to make their national programs more competitive with the US and Canada.

Savolainen is dating Swedish defender and former Luleå teammate Anna Kjellbin. Kjellbin was selected in the sixth round by Montréal.

3-14 Gwyneth Philips (G) USA

NCAA | 23 years old | 5'7"

Ottawa selected the first goalie of the 2024 draft, Gwyneth Philips, from Northeastern University. Philips took over the starting role at Northeastern after star goalie Aerin Frankel graduated. She was named NCAA goalie of the year in 2023 when she won 34 of her 38 games played with a .960 save percentage and ten shutouts.

Philips said she plays a different style from Maschmeyer but uses athleticism and speed to make great plays. "I like to consider myself athletic," Philips said. "I'm not the biggest goalie." She described herself as composed and not "too all over the place."

She told reporters she's excited to head to Ottawa. "I didn't know where I was going to go," she said. "There were teams who needed a goalie more than others." Hirshfeld said he showed her video to NHL goalie coaches, and they saw a lot of potential in her game.

4-20 Stephanie Markowski (D) CAN

NCAA | 22 years old | 5'8"

Markowski is another Alberta native and lifelong friend of Danielle Serdachny. Markowski said they've known each other for almost 20 years, and they played together on team Alberta under coach MacLeod. "We went to preschool together," she said. "And I know Carla pretty well. I really like her coaching style."

Hirshfeld said he only knew about the friendship between Markowski and Serdachny when it was pointed out to him by MacLeod. He said he's happy they're reunited, but it wasn't a deciding factor in drafting either.

Markowski played most of her college hockey at Clarkson University but transferred to Ohio State for her senior year, where she won an NCAA championship. Hirshfeld said he had heard her described as mean and nasty. "Markowski is one of the toughest and most competitive players out there," he said.

5-26 Mannon McMahon (F) USA

NCAA | 22 years old | 5'7"

McMahon played college hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she was captain in her senior season. She accumulated an impressive streak, playing 173 consecutive games, setting a UMD record and never missing a collegiate game, according to the UMD website.

She's also a big centre who likes to use her size. She said she likes to play in the defensive zone and use her body. "I'm known for my physical game," she told reporters at the draft. "I got a lot of physical penalties in college, so I'm excited for a bit of leeway."

Hirshfeld said he liked McMahon for her special teams play and faceoff success. He said she was one of the best faceoff takers in the NCAA. "Having improvement in the faceoff circle is a big step for us," he said.

McMahon isn't familiar with the city of Ottawa, but she does know a handful of Ottawa's players. McMahon's former UMD teammates Ashton Bell and Gabbie Hughes are on track to play a second season with PWHL Ottawa. "It's a sense of comfort going to a place where I have two of my best friends," McMahon told reporters.

6-32 Anna Meixner (F) AUS

SDHL | 29 years old | 5'3"

If Anna Meixner joins PWHL Ottawa for the 2024-25 season, it will be her first taste of North American hockey. Meixner began making occasional appearances on Austrian pro women's hockey teams when she was thirteen and joined an Austrian team in the European Women's Hockey League in central Europe in 2011 when she was 16. Her EWHL career-high was 40 goals in 19 games in 2014-15. She has since moved to Sweden and scored 95 goals in 160 games over five years.

Meixner has been a goal-scoring leader for teams she has played for at the professional and international levels. She brings the kind of scoring experience Ottawa's forward depth needs. Hirshfeld said drafting older players was intentional to help Ottawa in difficult situations. "Experience will help us," he said. "Some of those games we lost in the third period last year, those [experienced] players will help us get better at that."

7-38 Madeline Wethington (D) USA

NCAA | 29 years old | 5'10"

Ottawa's final draft pick was another big defender, Madeline Wethington. She was a top defender at the University of Minnesota and played in the NCAA's Frozen Four in 2023.

At the draft, Wethington told reporters she was excited about heading to a new city. "It's a surreal feeling to be drafted to PWHL Ottawa," she said. "It's literally the first time I'll ever play outside of [Minnesota]." She said she researched the city ahead of the draft and thought it looked like a great place to live.

Wethington described herself as a physical player, something that might be appealing to Hirshfeld. "I'm not afraid to throw my weight out there," she said. "I use my size to my advantage."