PWHL announces locations for 6 teams, details of free agency and draft

The newly-formed Professional Women's Hockey League has announced its first six teams, plus information on free agency and the draft.

The PWHL is expected to launch in January. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
The PWHL is expected to launch in January. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL) unveiled its six franchise locations and player intake process on Tuesday as the league inches closer to its scheduled launch in January 2024.

Teams will be located in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, New York, Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul, the league announced.

The league's initial free-agency period opens on Sept. 1 and closes Sept. 10. Teams will have the ability to sign three players during this window. Current or graduating players from NCAA or U SPORTS programs are not eligible for this free agency period.

The PWHL will then hold its 15-round draft on Sept. 18 in Toronto. The order for the first round of the draft will be determined by a lottery, with subsequent rounds following a "snake" format. Undrafted players will be free to sign with any club. Draft picks are not permitted to be traded until at least the completion of the 2023-24 season.

Each team will play 24 regular-season games, with the full schedule being released in the coming months. Training camps will open the week of Nov. 13.

“Today, we look ahead to a phenomenal future for the PWHL,” senior vice president of hockey operations Jayna Hefford said in a release. “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.”

The PWHL was created when the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises acquired the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) in June. In addition to former PHF players, the PWHL will feature members of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), which formed in 2019 following the dissolution of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

Players in the PWHL will be paid a minimum salary of $35,000, a figure that teams can sign a maximum of nine players to. Teams must sign a minimum of six players to contracts of at least $80,000 that will be guaranteed for three years. The league's CBA does not include a salary cap but it does outline that teams must adhere to a $55,000 average salary.

-With files from Yahoo Sports Canada's Ian Kennedy