PWHL Ottawa's 2023 Draft Retrospective

Hindsight is 20/20, and it shows in the hits and misses from Ottawa's inaugural draft.

PWHL Ottawa's 2023 Draft Retrospective
Savannah Harmon was Ottawa's first-round pick in 2023 | The PWHL

General manager Mike Hirshfeld, coach Carla MacLeod, and the team's support staff took a unique approach to the 2023 PWHL inaugural draft. After signing two forwards and a goalie in free agency, Ottawa selected three defenders in a row, followed by three forwards.

Hirshfeld told reporters following the draft that Ottawa intentionally left Czech players on the board even though they knew they wanted them, on MacLeod's advice. MacLeod is the Czech national team coach and knew about the player's skills but also knew they would be overlooked and Ottawa could grab them later in the draft. That is precisely what they did, taking Czech players in rounds seven and eight.

Ottawa's leading goalscorer this year was 6th-round pick Daryl Watts, followed closely by 4th-round pick Gabbie Hughes. That's a lot of value found outside of the first three rounds.

How will Ottawa approach its draft this year? I think they'll be more aggressive in the opening rounds, and they need an elite finisher/goal scorer. But I think there are Czech players MacLeod will want to target – but will they fly under the radar again? And will Hirshfeld target hardworking defenders as the foundation of his team? I think so.

Let's look back at who Ottawa took in last year's draft and what those players turned into.

1st Round, 5th Overall
Savannah Harmon (D) - 24 GP, 12 PTS

Harmon began the season mostly paired with Amanda Boulier before MacLeod began shuffling defence. In the middle of the year, she spent time as a regular partner with Bell and Tejralová, where she ended the season. Harmon averaged about 23 minutes a night in the first half of the season but nearly 30 minutes a game in the latter half. Harmon was a key Ottawa player, but Ottawa's first-round pick may have been better spent elsewhere.

2nd Round, 8th Overall
Ashton Bell (D) - 24 GP, 7 PTS

Bell had 4 points in her first four games but just three in the next twenty. Her ice time was consistently around 20 minutes but spiked in the last five games of the season. Bell is a good pick, maybe a little too high at eighth overall, but she could become one of the best defenders in the league.

3rd Round, 17th Overall
Jincy Roese (D) - 24 GP, 5 PTS

Roese had five assists in her first PWHL season. She saw defensive time with many of Ottawa's other defenders: Tejralová to start, but then games paired with Howran, Boyd, and Boulier before mostly playing with Bell at the end of the season. Roese is a strong player, but I don't think she performed to the level of a top-20 draft pick.

4th Round, 20th Overall
Gabbie Hughes (F) - 24 GP, 12 PTS

Hughes made things happen for Ottawa all year long. She spent most of the season as the team's top centre, a position from which she had nine goals on 61 shots. Hughes also made things happen on special teams. She had 20 penalty minutes and scored two powerplay goals and one shorthanded. This was an excellent pick for Ottawa.

5th Round, 29th Overall
Hayley Scamurra (F) - 24GP, 10 PTS

Scamurra led the team in shots with 91 despite only scoring five times. Three of her goals were on the powerplay. As a top-six winger, Scamurra was a great pickup in the fifth round.

6th Round, 32nd Overall
Daryl Watts (F) - 24 GP, 17 PTS

Daryl Watts was Ottawa's top goal scorer and sixth in the league. She could have and should have been drafted much higher—this was a steal for Ottawa. She shone in the second half of the season as her numbers exploded. As a result, she's a much-coveted free agent and Ottawa should be pursuing an extension for the dangerous goal scorer.

7th Round, 41st Overall
Aneta Tejralová (D) - 23 GP, 8 PTS

Tejralová spent most of the season as one of Ottawa's busiest defenders. She played more than 20 minutes in 20 of her games. Tejralová was an essential workhorse for this team.

8th Round, 44th Overall
Kateřina Mrázová (F) - 23 GP, 18 PTS

Mrázová was one of Ottawa's most consistent contributors, scoring a point in more than half of her games. To MacLeod's credit, she was a brilliant pick-up in the eighth round. This one was an absolute home run.

9th Round, 53rd Overall
Zoe Boyd (D) - 16 GP, 3 PTS

Boyd was a consistent part of Ottawa's defence for over half the season. She played with several defence partners, but coach MacLeod seemed confident in Boyd's ability to play in different situations. Boyd missed the final eight games of the season with an injury.

10th Round, 56th Overall
Kristin Della Rovere (F) - 9 GP, 1 PTS

Della Rovere was a regular on the fourth line early in the season. She often played centre or occasionally on the wing. An injury kept her out of the lineup in the later half of the season.

11th Round, 65th Overall
Lexie Adzija (F) - 17 GP, 8 PTS

Adzija was a breakout player for Ottawa and quickly became a fan favourite. Her high energy, fashionable outfits, and early-season goals made her quite the star. Adzija was traded to Boston in exchange for Shiann Darkangelo.

12th Round, 68th Overall
Sandra Abstreiter (G) - 3 GP, 0.913 SV%

Abstreiter was injured less than 20 minutes into her first start. She was Ottawa's clear backup but played well in all her appearances. She had a phenomenal tournament with Germany at the World Championships, earning her some clout.

13th Round, 77th Overall
Amanda Boulier (D) - 17 GP, 6 PTS
Boulier was a regular in the Ottawa lineup and a key part of the team's night-to-night game. She was traded to Montréal in exchange for Tereza Vanišová.

14th Round, 80th Overall
Caitrin Lonergan (F)

Lonergan did not play in the PWHL this year, instead pursuing an off-ice career. Her player contract was traded to Boston in the Adzija trade for Shiann Darkangelo.

15th Round, 89th Overall
Audrey-Ann Veillette (F)

Ottawa released Veillette from training camp in the fall. The young forward had an injury that would keep her out for the season. She is in Ottawa rehabbing her injury and hopes to play in a future season, according to an article published by the PWHL.

All stats from the PWHL website.