The first NWHL International Draft class
The five picks in the inaugural International Draft
Today, the NWHL held its first-ever International Draft on Twitch. The Draft consisted of a single round and was open only to players born outside of North America over the age of 21 with no NCAA, U Sports, or previous NWHL experience.
All five of the players selected have experience with their National Teams
Buffalo Beauts: Lovisa Berndtsson, goaltender, Sweden
The Beauts took goaltender Lovisa Berndtsson. She played in the SDHL with Djurgården for the past five seasons. Last season, she had a .903 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average in 22 appearances and played for Team Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Championship.
Based on her interview in the Draft Show, it sounds like Berndtsson has already signed with her team. She even already has her mask ready! She’ll join Carly Jackson and Caty Flagg as the Beauts goaltending trio for season seven. Berndtsson, 33, brings a lot of valuable experience to the table for Buffalo.
Connecticut Whale: Tsubasa Sato, forward, Japan
The Whale took the lone non-European player of the International Draft in Japanese forward Tsubasa Sato. She’s played for the Karuizawa Fairies, is a Red Bull Crashed Ice competitor, and has appeared on a reality show called “Terrace House: Opening New Doors.”
Newly drafted Tsubasa Sato with some words for the Whale faithful! 🇯🇵@korochan25 | @CTWhale_NWHL pic.twitter.com/0koDOGeuLC— NWHL (@NWHL) July 25, 2021
Boston Pride: Evelina Raselli, forward, Switzerland
The Pride’ pick, Swiss forward Evelina Raselli, has been a mainstay on Switzerland’s national team since 2010, and that’s not even counting her time on the U18 team. Raselli played on Ladies Team Lugano in the SWHL last season, racking up 33 points in 20 games. In her pro career in her homeland, Raselli has averaged 1.5 Pts/GP in the top league through 229 career games.
Given that the Pride lost forwards Mary Parker, Lexie Laing, and Carlee Turner this off-season, if they can sign Raselli — which is never a given with international players and visas — she’d be a great addition.
Toronto Six: Réka Dabasi, forward, Hungary
The first Hungarian player in the draft went to the Six in Réka Dabasi.
The 24-year-old forward has a lot of experience with the Hungarian National Team, which is coached by Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Lisa Haley. She’s spent her entire EWHL career with KMH Budapest where she totaled 16 points in 10 games in the 2020-21 season.
In international competition, she has 22 points in 40 games of Worlds Division 1A, 1B, and 2A competition. She scored two goals in five games at the D1A Worlds in 2019 to help her national team earn a promotion to the top division.
Metropolitan Riveters: Romana Košecká, forward/defender, Slovakia
The Riveters signed Romana Košecká. The Slovakian player was at three free agent camps this offseason — the Riveters, Whale, and Beauts. Mike Murphy described her as having “good instincts on the rush and looked like a strong skater” after the Whale camp.
Meet Romana Košecká!#NWHLDraft21 pic.twitter.com/nlqWgjzFlG— Metropolitan Riveters 🏳️🌈 (@Riveters) July 25, 2021
Košecká has 63 games of EWHL experience to her name as well as experience playing pro in Sweden and in her native Slovakia. Even with all of that experience, she’s still just 22, so we’ve yet to see her play her best hockey. She could be looking at the NWHL as a unique experience to grow her game against North American competition.
Minnesota Whitecaps: Fanni Gasparics, forward, Hungary
The final pick in the draft was another Hungarian forward, Fanni Gasparics. She spent five seasons in the ZhHL with Agidel Ufa where she had 204 points in 156 games. Most recently, Gasparics with the MAC Budapest in the EWHL where she scored 17 goals and notched 12 assists in 16 GP in 2020-21.
The veteran forward has been Hungary’s most productive skater in international competition over the past several years and is a legitimate star. However, Gasparics has already re-signed with MAC Budapest so it is unlikely she’ll join the Whitecaps. If she does eventually make her way to the NWHL she would be a huge addition for Minnesota or any other team.
In addition, Haley confirmed in her interview in the show that season seven will start in November.
All data courtesy of EliteProspects.com.