The 15-round PWHL Draft took place Monday afternoon in Toronto with 90 players selected to fill out the bulk of the six rosters in the fledgling league.
As expected, Minnesota selected University of Minnesota star and Team USA offensive leader Taylor Heise first overall, followed by Team Canada veteran Jocelyne Larocque going to Toronto second overall, and Swiss superstar Alina Muller going to Boston third.
While each team found talent in the draft, some did better than others. Here’s a ranking of the 2023 PWHL Draft classes:
The riches Montreal came home with, adding to their existing trio of Marie-Philip Poulin, Ann-Renee Desbiens, and Laura Stacey, were shocking.
Montreal grabbed fellow Canadian national team members Erin Ambrose and Kristen O'Neill, along with Czechia national team members Dominika Laskova and Tereza Vanisova, plus Swedish national team leading scorer Lina Ljungblom.
Montreal getting Jade Downie-Landry in the 9th round is going to turn out as a steal for them. She's such a complete player who's been overlooked as a USports grad. #PWHLDraft2023
The scoring punch up front that Montreal will roll out will keep their opposition spinning, as the team also selected former PHF MVPs Kennedy Marchment and Jillian Dempsey, NCAA stars Gabrielle David and Maureen Murphy, and longtime Canadian national team member Ann-Sophie Bettez. They also added offensive defenders Kati Tabin — who led the PHF in scoring from the blueline last season — and flashy NCAA grad Maude Poulin-Labelle. They’ll be a fun team to watch.
Adding to Sarah Nurse, Renata Fast, and Blayre Turnbull, Toronto GM Gina Kingsbury took a wealth of players familiar to the Canadian National Team, including current members Emma Maltais, Jocelyne Larocque, Kristen Campbell, and Natalie Spooner. She also grabbed former USA National Team members Kali Flanagan, Jesse Compher, and former Canadian National Teamer Victoria Bach.
There’s a lot of skill and speed on Toronto’s roster, but Kingsbury also selected role players. It’s a model Kingsbury and head coach Troy Ryan, who also helms the national program's squad, have followed at the international level.
With Team Canada, they’ve leaned into choosing players suited to bottom-six roles, and they did this again in Toronto, grabbing players that will excel on both sides of the puck. One wild card to watch is Hannah Miller, who was the 2022 World Championship D1A MVP while playing for China.
Boston will have a freighting power play with Hilary Knight, Loren Gabel, Alina Muller, Megan Keller, and Sophie Jaques. General Manager Danielle Marmer also did a nice job of infusing players that can move up and down her lineup, including former Toronto Six captain Shiann Darkangelo and Taylor Girard, a powerful forward who finished fourth in PHF scoring last year. Marmer also nabbed versatile forward Jamie Lee Rattray, USA veteran Hannah Brandt, Wisconsin standout Sophie Shirley, and Austrian star Theresa Schafzahl.
Perhaps where Marmer stole the show, however, was by putting together potentially the best goaltending tandem in the league. With Aerin Frankel already signed, Marmer dipped back into the netminding pool, selecting World Championship Best Goaltender Emma Soderberg of Sweden.
Nobody is scoring on Boston. Aerin Frankel AND Emma Soderberg
— Ian Kennedy (@IanKennedyCK) September 18, 2023
After signing Brianne Jenner, Emily Clark, and Emerance Maschmeyer in free agency, Ottawa managed to grab past and present Canadian and American National Team players including Savannah Harmon, Ashton Bell, Jincy Dunne, Gabrielle Hughes, and Hayley Scamurra.
They also selected Czech national team members Aneta Tejralova and Katerina Mrazova, plus German national team netminder Sandra Abstreiter. Ottawa found good value in the draft claiming former Patty Kazmaier Award winner Daryl Watts, and USports All-Canadian Audrey-Anne Veillete.
Daryl Watts goes to Ottawa. Tons of skill.
— Ian Kennedy (@IanKennedyCK) September 18, 2023
It’s a well-rounded roster that will have every ounce of potential squeezed out from it under the guidance of head coach Carla MacLeod.
Getting Taylor Heise first overall is a game-changer for the next decade. General manager Natalie Darwitz also claimed arguably the top remaining goaltender in Nicole Hensley, a member of Team USA, and added Susanna Tapani, a Finnish legend who could become the steal of the draft.
Darwitz also grabbed a handful of former Minnesota Whitecaps players in Denisa Krizova, Liz Schepers, Sidney Morin, Sydney Brodt, Amanda Leveille, and young defender Maggie Flaherty, who signed with the Whitecaps in the offseason.
It’s a veteran roster, and Minnesota has perhaps the best remaining pool of free agents available to choose from geographically outside of Toronto’s crop.
6. New York
New York General Manager Pascal Daoust wasted no time addressing his blueline, picking Ella Shelton and Jaime Bourbonnais to pair with free agent signing Micah Zandee-Hart. New York also grabbed highly underrated netminder Corinne Schroeder, who was the reigning PHF Goalie of the Year and could turn into the PWHL’s top netminder.
Where New York may struggle is with their lack of firepower up front outside of Alex Carpenter and Abby Roque, both of whom were signed in free agency, and the team's third-round selection Jessie Eldridge.
Players like Elizabeth Giguere, Jill Saulnier, and Chloe Aurard are intelligent puck movers with slick skills, and Jade Downie-Landry is one of the better value picks made in the draft, but this team will undoubtedly look to supplement its potential scoring deficiencies with passed over offensive players like Madison Packer, Mikyla Grant-Mentis, and Allie Thunstrom in free agency.