Yes, we're going to talk about trades before the PWHL season has even begun. Why? Because it's fun and because it could happen. We've already seen players move around in free agency after being released but trades are very much in play in this new pro league. From Article 13 of the PWHL's CBA:
"Teams shall have the right to trade Players unless otherwise provided in a Player’s SPA. Teams shall not have the right to trade Players after the Roster Freeze Date."
Of course, as fun as it may be to play general manager from the couch, trades are a serious business that can and will disrupt lives. In some cases, they can also reunite families and friends. They can also put players in a position to succeed or reach new heights in their playing careers. The best deals are those where all parties involved come away from a transaction happier and feeling more whole than they had been beforehand.
Here are three deals that have the potential to make a lot of folks very happy.
To Boston: Jillian Dempsey, one industrial barrel of poutine
To Montreal: Sophie Shirley, $200 in Dunkin Gift Cards
Why would they do it? Shirley, 24, will add more youth and size to a Montreal roster that could use both of those things – I've read the CBA and youthful giraffes aren't mentioned at any point. Shirley could flourish under the influence and guidance of veterans like Marie-Philip Poulin and Ann-Sophie Bettez and could also be a menace with her size and skill in Montreal's lineup.
This deal would also send Dempsey, 32, back to Boston. If that's the wrong thing to do, then I don't want to be right. When Dempsey scored against Boston in the preseason, it felt wrong. It felt dirty. It felt like someone from Boston pronouncing every "r" in "Harvard." This needs to change. Boston, a team that looks built to win a championship right flipping now, would be adding a player who was born to play playoff hockey. This move would unbreak a lot of hearts and give Boston an elite two-way center and penalty killer.
To Boston: Rebecca Leslie
To Toronto: Shiann Darkangelo
Why would they do it? Leslie was selected with the 71st pick and Boston took Darkangelo off the board with the 70th pick. So this one is just a small swap on the draft board that could potentially benefit both teams.
We already know Darkangelo fits the market – she was a tremendous captain for the Toronto Six. She would add size and a key net-front presence to compliment superstars like Sarah Nurse, Natalie Spooner, and Blayre Turnbull. Darkangelo can play center and wing but I picture her as the keystone to Toronto creating the best third line in the league with all the forward depth the coaching staff has to play with. With Darkangelo on the ice, Toronto could overwhelm the opposition between the dots at evens and on the power play.
Leslie had a quiet (in terms of production) 2022-23 campaign in the PWHPA but there's no doubt she's at least a middle-six forward in this league. Leslie has had a big camp for Toronto and, at 27, is in the prime of her career. This deal would make a veteran Boston forward group a little younger – they have seven players over 30. It may be a short season, but it will be fast and furious, and sacrificing some experience and size for younger legs that can play in a variety of roles could be a win for Boston.
To Minnesota: Amanda Boulier
To Ottawa: Michela Cava
Why would they do it? In the PWHL Draft, Minnesota selected Michela Cava 72nd overall and Liz Schepers 73rd overall. With the 77th pick, Ottawa got one of the biggest steals in the draft with Amanda Boulier. Looking at how the rosters have come together, I bet Minnesota would like to find a way to bring Boulier back to the State of Hockey.
To be clear, this trade would upset the balance of both rosters. It takes a defender away from Ottawa and adds another to Minnesota. Trades that aren't parallel (a forward for a forward or a defender for a defender) are probably out of the question, but this could serve as the foundation for a two-for-two deal. Also, this is all just for giggles, so let's not allow common sense to get in the way of anything.
In Cava, Ottawa would add a crafty, versatile forward who would fit in beautifully with the stable of talent they already have. Cava can play wing and center and has a lot of experience playing with European players, which is part of PWHL Ottawa's identity. She can play all over the lineup and can add even more scoring depth to a team that looks like it was built to be an offensive hydra. It's not that Ottawa "needs" Cava. But it would make them that much more entertaining.
In Boulier, Minnesota would have an elite skating and puck-moving defender with tremendous offensive upside. Boulier can be a power play quarterback and spring the puck out of her zone at even strength to send Taylor Heise and company on the attack. As it stands now, the Minnesota blue line is big. It's also a little one-dimensional and in need of some speed and puck movement. Boulier, a right-handed defender, could pair up with Lee Stecklein – the pair won an Isobel Cup together with the Minnesota Whitecaps in 2019.