NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan. (via NWHL/Vimeo)
The National Women’s Hockey League is heading towards its first season, and, like the NHL, the league will be putting on a June draft with hopes of securing the league some top talent. Commissioner Dani Rylan held the league’s first draft lottery, and the New York Riveters won the first selection.
Days before the spotlight shifts to the 53rd NHL draft in Florida and Connor McDavid becomes the center of attention, the NWHL will be holding a draft of its own to determine who will make history as the league’s first ever draft selection.
Before draft day arrives, however, the league needed to determine which of its four clubs would be selecting first in the first NWHL draft, which is to be held June 20 in Boston. Following a somewhat old-school drawing of pucks out of a helmet, the New York Riveters landed the first overall pick.
Following after the Riveters are the Connecticut Whale, then Boston Pride, with the Buffalo Beauts closing out the first round with the final selection.
At the moment, the top prospects for the NWHL include Boston College’s Alex Carpenter, who was named the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner as the NCAA’s top female player and scored 37 goals and 81 points in 37 games, and University of Minnesota’s Hannah Brandt, who finished second in scoring in the NCAA last season with 34 goals and 74 points.
"The college system, right now, is the best way for players to grow and develop and face quality competition regularly,” NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan said in a release. “The top college programs have historically produced the best talent in women's hockey, which is exactly what we're looking for."
Draft eligible players are those in their junior year of collegiate play, with the idea being the women can continue to grow at the NCAA level before leaving school to become a professional.
If the player decides not to sign with the team that drafted her, she is free to ink a deal with any of the other three teams, but the draft allows a player to get prepared for a professional career where she was drafted.
“The purpose of drafting players before they have graduated is that it gives them time to establish themselves in the city they're drafted in, should they choose to play there,” Rylan said.
Other top draft prospects who finished top-10 in NCAA scoring include Boston College’s Haley Skarupa (31 goals, 71 points), Northeastern’s Kendall Coyne (28 goals, 52 points), Boston University’s Sarah Lefort (23 goals, 50 points) and Minnesota’s Maryanne Menefee (23 goals, 47 points).
The entire list of top prospects will be released on the NWHL’s website and the draft itself will be announced pick-by-pick on the NWHL’s Facebook and Twitter pages. In subsequent years, the draft order will be determined by the previous season's standings.