PWHL training camps will open for the league’s inaugural season this week. And while there are still many questions, like where do the teams play? – at least we are getting closer to seeing how the teams’ final rosters take shape.
Camps will be held in the league’s six original markets (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Minnesota, New York and Boston) over the next four weeks leading up to the roster deadline on Dec. 11, when each team must downsize. to 23 players. . Each team can also sign two reserve players to increase their player pool to 25.
Heading into camp, teams were allowed to bring a minimum of 28 players and up to a maximum of 35 players. As of Thursday morning, teams have announced 82 player signings, but there are still many significant battles between the league’s six teams.
Using the PWHL’s signing tracker and training camp rosters, we decided to simulate each camp roster to illustrate who has signed, who hasn’t, and where the most interesting competition will occur for each team. The graphics assume that teams choose to sign 14 forwards, seven defenders and two goalkeepers, but leave the option of 13 forwards, eight defenders and two goalkeepers. Of course, some teams may choose to sign three goalkeepers, but it will all depend on the players’ performance in camp.
Signed players: 7
Available places: 16
Squad battles ahead: Minnesota has the fewest players signed heading into training camp, meaning there will be significant competition for roster spots. As of Wednesday morning, there are 16 spots open and 22 players remain unsigned. There are plenty of spots (eight or nine, depending on how GM Natalie Darwitz fills out the roster) in the forward group and every spot on the blue line is open except for No. 1 D, which is Lee Stecklein. One of the interesting battles will be for Nicole Hensley’s endorsement. Minnesota drafted Amanda Leveille, but Maddie Rooney poses a threat. Rooney led Team USA to a gold medal in a penalty shootout at the 2018 Olympics and was cut from the final national teams, but she is still only 26 years old. I assume one goalie will get a standard player contract and the other will be on the reserve list.
Signed players: 19
Available places: 4
Squad battles ahead: Boston general manager Danielle Marmer went to work during free agency, signing all of her draft picks and even one free agent (Kaleigh Fratkin). That means there won’t be many jobs up for grabs in camp, particularly on the back end with seven defensemen under contract and two goaltenders. Cami Kronish or Lindsay Browning could realistically make the reserve list as No. 3 goalie options, and perhaps Lauren MacInnis will have such a good camp that Marmer and coach Courtney Birchard-Kessel decide to go with 13 forwards and eight defensemen. But for the most part, it looks like the biggest battle on the roster will be between six players for the four remaining spots in the forward group.
Signed players: 15
Available places: 8
Squad battles ahead: New York has some significant spots open at all three positions, with several solid players fighting for those spots. Up front, keep an eye on Kelly Babstock and Madison Packer, two former Metropolitan Riveters players; and Jill Saulnier, a two-time Olympian for Team Canada who adds depth to the roster and is beloved in the room. On defense, expect current Team Canada defenseman Jaime Bourbonnais to earn a spot and Olympic record holder Claire Thompson to be a reserve player. That leaves two or three spots on defense for six players. New York still needs a second goalie. Corinne Schroeder should have the inside track: she was excellent in the PHF last season and was recently named to Canada’s Rivalry Series roster for the November games against Team USA.
Signed players: 17
Available places: 6
Squad battles ahead: Ottawa cast a wide net with its camp invitations and in total will have 14 unsigned players and six open spots. The biggest battle at training camp in Ottawa will be up front, with eight* players competing for four or five open spots. Notable players include former NWHL MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Fanni Garát-Gasparics and Japan national team forward Akane Shiga.
*Note: Audrey-Anne Veillette underwent knee surgery in October, according to the Journal Express. Otherwise, there would be nine forwards fighting for a roster spot in camp.
Signed players: 10
Available places: 13
Squad battles ahead: Montreal should have an interesting camp with significant competition for all three positions. Erin Ambrose is the only defenseman signed as of Thursday morning, leaving six (or seven) spots for seven unsigned defensemen expected to be in camp. Up front, most of the core is signed, with top players from college (Maureen Murphy and Gabrielle David) and PHF (Leah Lum) still looking for spots. Montreal will need a second goalie behind Ann-Renée Desbiens and has four options to choose from, although Elaine Chuli may be the betting favorite given her excellent year with the Toronto Six in 2022-23.
Note: Mélodie Daoust is expected to be a substitute player, not full-time, as she concentrates on her work at Collège Bourget. Lina Ljungblom will not play in Montreal this season because she is under contract with MoDo in the SDHL, according to The Hockey News.
Signed players: 15
Available places: 8
Roster Battles forward: The top of the lineup in Toronto seems to be defined with eight forwards, four defensemen and two goalkeepers signed. That leaves significant depth roles up for grabs, particularly on forward and defense. I hope Victoria Bach gets a spot in Toronto’s middle six, and I’m curious to see how she fares in camp against Alexa Vasko, who appeared during the PWHPA performances last year. General manager Gina Kingsbury also mentioned that a traditional method of building a roster could consist of 13 forwards, seven defensemen and three goaltenders, although it will depend on the performance of the players over the next few weeks. So expect Toronto to maybe have three goalies.
(Photo of Toronto players Blayre Turnbull, Renata Fast, Jesse Compher and Sarah Nurse with general manager Gina Kingsbury: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)