With its press conference this morning, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), has come to life, as they’ve officially introduced themselves to the hockey world.
Naming their six markets across Canada and the U.S., league officials announced that some of the world’s best women’s hockey players will hit the ice in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the New York City Area.
The PWHL will be supported financially by Mark and Kimbra Walter. The league has also announced its board of directors, which includes sports icon Billie Jean King, sports executive Ilana Kloss, Los Angeles Dodgers president Stan Kasten, and Dodgers senior vice president of business strategy Royce Cohen.
“On behalf of ownership and our board, I am honored to announce the official name of our new league, and to unveil the blueprint for this historic inaugural season. And we are especially proud to be providing this new platform for elite women athletes,” said Stan Kasten in the PWHL press release.
The original six teams will begin to build their rosters with a 10-day free agency period occurring from Sept. 1 to Sept. 10. During that time, each team will be eligible to sign three players to standard player agreements. Current or graduating players from NCAA or USPORTS are not eligible for this preliminary free agency period. The remaining eligible players who are not signed throughout that initial free agency period will then become eligible for the 2023 PWHL draft on Sept. 18.
Every single player who is interested in competing in the 2023-24 PWHL season must declare for the draft by Sept. 3. Players with remaining collegiate eligibility are permitted to declare for the draft (in consultation with their campus compliance officers). The order of selection for the first round of the 2023 PWHL draft will be determined by a draft lottery.
The order of selection for the first round of the inaugural draft will be determined by a draft lottery. The following rounds will follow a ‘snake format’ where, once a round is completed, the following round will be conducted with the teams selecting in the reverse order of the previous round. The 2023 PWHL draft will have 15 rounds. No draft picks will be eligible for trade until the completion of the 2023-24 PWHL season.
Following the inaugural draft, all undrafted players will then become free agents and may sign a standard player agreement with any team at any point following the draft. Selected players may go unsigned for two years before becoming eligible to enter the draft again. No player can declare for more than two drafts.
Throughout the 2023-24 PWHL schedule each team is set to play 24 regular season games with the full schedule to be announced in the coming months.
The league has announced that they are in the final stages of hiring their six general managers, who will immediately begin to work on building their rosters through free agency and the draft. The PWHL has assembled a player evaluation advisory committee that has assessed the eligible player pool as an additional resource for each general manager. The committee has extensive knowledge in coaching, scouting, and player development, with members representing all levels of the women’s game.
“We have never seen more excitement and demand for women’s sports, and through the launch of this league, the top women’s players in the world will have the opportunity to reach even greater heights,” said Jayna Hefford, PWHL senior vice president of hockey operations.