What each NWHL team needs at this point in the offseason
Big moves have been made, but all five teams are still looking to solidify their squads.
The NWHL offseason has been especially crazy this year, to say the least. We’ve seen first signings from new countries, star players making cross country moves to new teams, and a handful of new GMs and coaches. So as the summer draws to a close and we inch closer to first puck drop, here is where each team might be looking to improve to solidify their rosters.
The Riveters, thus far, have the least amount of signings in the league so unless they are striving to break all the TOI records this year, they will definitely need to tack on a lot to their current six-player roster. However, there is one integral piece to the puzzle that the Riveters are definitely missing: a goaltender
The Metropolitan team is the last and only team to not sign a goalie, and all four of their rostered goalies from last season have not shown any inclination of re-signings with the team.
Some of the biggest news to drop last week was that Audra Richards, a rookie star for the squad last season, was signing with the Minnesota Whitecaps, her hometown team. This is a huge blow to the Rivs offense and a goal of theirs this offseason should be to try and replace that power. Richards was tied for leading scorer on the team along with Madison Packer who was the first to re-sign with the team.
Ivo Mocek recently was named the head coach of the team, leading me to believe a lot more signings will start to roll in now that more of the organizations management is solidified.
Bulbul Kartanbay signs with Riveters, becomes first Kazakh player in NWHL history
The Boston Pride are so well developed this off season, they could probably start a game today and win. It is no shock that the Pride as well as the Whitecaps have had the most success in signings considering they are heavily populated areas for hockey players.
Boston has seemed to check mostly all the boxes in terms of key players they need to sign. They’ve got their captain, Jillian Dempsey, back. They’ve inked a goalie in BU alum, Victoria Hanson. I would expect them to strive for another backup goalie or two, but they have significant players already locked down in every position.
If there is any hole to fill for the Pride this offseason, it would be that of Haley Skarupa. Last year’s assists and shots on goal leader leaves a lot more ground to cover in terms of play making for those top scorers they have managed to re-sign. Looking to their blue line, the obvious Gigi Marvin is missing as well.
Despite some key players missing, they are still extremely stacked compared to the other teams and probably aren’t stressing to gain back that ground.
Just like the Pride, the Whitecaps are sitting pretty with the second-most amount of signings, pretty close to being able to put a full team out on the ice. They have re-signed their rock solid goalie from last season, Amanda Leveille, as well as a backup.
They snagged Riveters leading scorer Audra Richards, tacked on University of Minnesota star Nicole Schammel, and despite not having a lot of the same big Olympic names on their roster as they did last year, their offense just looks completely lethal.
With only two defenders signed, that is where Minnesota’s focus should currently be. Amanda Boulier is a great start for any blue line, but I’m sure the Whitecaps are looking to add some traditional defense to their squad before October.
Last season was not very kind to the Whale, so with or without the impact of #ForTheGame, the Connecticut team is surely trying to build a new foundation and attempt to win a few more games.
So far, the Whale have re-signed defenders Shannon Doyle and Elena Orlando so while they still need to tack on to their defense, it is most likely not their main concern right now. Instead, the Whale should be looking to fill the hole caused by the loss of star forward, Katerina Mrázová. Last year, Mrázová led the team with 12 points and 6 goals and while that still didn’t add up to much, was definitely the reason why the Whale can claim two wins.
Alongside that, Emily Fluke does not seem to be returning. Without those two on the ice, there is a lot to make up for. Connecticut has begun that process by bringing back Kayla Meneghin and grabbing up a former NCAA player in Emma Vlasic but the Whale need to nail down a solid star forward who can create the plays when no one else can.
Finally, the Buffalo Beauts...who almost needed a new team name before the start of the season.
The Beauts were the last team to make a signing headed into the fifth season, but the wait was worth it. Corrine Buie’s signing on June 4, opened the floodgates for the team and since then they have made some pretty interesting signings. They are responsible for bringing goaltender, Kelsey Nuemann back in the game after a year off and bringing Canadian national player Brooke Stacey to the league.
So what’s left for the team? Star quality. Last year the Beauts had hands down, the most dominant line in the league with Scamurra, Elia, and Cameranesi. As well as a goalie tandem consisting of Shannon Szabados and Nicole Hensley. Not to mention all-star Blake Bolden dominating any and all blue lines. Just stepping into the building with these names was sure to shake you. The Beauts are arguably the closest team to being the first to win the Isobel Cup twice, but I wouldn’t set my hopes high unless Buffalo can bring back the intimidation factor and star power they ran on last season.