It's going to be a busy day, both for those at the helm of pro women's hockey's latest venture and for us here at Black Rosie Media, as the PWHL gears up for its inaugural draft.
On Monday, 268 of the world's best players will be up for selection amongst six teams, all of whom have already selected three free-agent signings apiece ahead of Monday's proceedings.
We've been trying to hone all of the info received thus far in one post, but there may be details that come to light after publication, so be sure to follow along on social media @BlackRosieMedia, @Founding4Pod, @elindsay08 and @ReinaDeLaIsla on social media for the latest details. For now, here's an outline of what to expect and my basic thoughts heading into the fray.
Where and When?
The PWHL draft will be held Monday, Sept. 18, at 1:00 p.m. ET at the CBC headquarters in downtown Toronto. A "purple carpet" where players will greet fans will be set up around noon.
Draft Order and Format
The PWHL draft will follow a snake format, where the initial draft order reverses for the following round. This means that the final team selecting in a given round will select back-to-back, becoming the first team selecting in the next round. This draft is set to be nine rounds in total.
The order is as follows:
Again, Montreal will be the first team to select in the second round with the snake format.
A full list of players who have declared for the draft can be found here. There have been reports of a "Top Prospects" list of players invited to attend with their expenses paid for, but this list has not been made public.
The coach and GMs involved
As a refresher, here are the general managers for each team, who were announced at the beginning of the month.
Boston: Danielle Marmer
Minnesota: Natalie Darwitz
Montreal: Daniele Sauvageau
New York: Pascal Daoust
Ottawa: Michael Hirshfeld
Toronto: Gina Kingsbury
The six coaches for the inaugural season were announced Friday.
Courtney Kessel joins Boston's staff after spending some time in college hockey, both with ECAC Hockey as an assistant coach with Princeton and, most recently, with Hockey East as an assistant with Boston University. She's also got ties to the U18 program at Hockey Canada as their bench boss, and in her playing days, she was a defender with the CWHL's Brampton Thunder. Kessel does have head coaching experience outside of international hockey as well, having headed the Toronto Furies in their final season (2018-19).
Charlie Burggraf and Minnesota GM Darwitz go way back, as he assisted behind the bench during her days as a player with the Gophers in the mid-2000s. In addition, Burggraf has deep ties to Minnesota hockey in general, coaching both men's and women's hockey at Bethel University prior to this hire. With that lineage, it's clear Minnesota is following the long and proud tradition the Whitecaps have established, sticking close to their roots with hires based in the State of Hockey.
Kori Cheverie will be Montreal's first head coach. Cheverie has served in an assistant capacity for a while and at multiple levels, including most recently as Toronto Metropolitan University's men's assistant coach. (Toronto Metropolitan University was previously known as Ryerson University and is still referenced as such in certain publications/websites). She's another pick with connections to Hockey Canada and the CWHL, as she spent her entire pro career with the Toronto Furies and has served as an assistant for the Canadian women's hockey team since 2021.
PWHL New York (Area)
Howie Draper joins New York after a long stint in the U SPORTS coaching realm. He has seen some huge success with the University of Alberta, including eight national championships and four Coach of the Year awards. U SPORTS isn't a league I presume a lot of Americans are familiar with, so this might be a hire that seems out of left field -- but I assure you, it's a great one.
Carla MacLeod has been pegged as Ottawa's head coach in what is my favorite hire thus far. MacLeod is a former Team Canada standout, but more recently (and perhaps more relevantly) has been a force in international coaching. Her most recent success has been with Team Czechia, including historic back-to-back bronze medals in Women's Worlds, but she has spent time with Team Japan and also coached at the University of Calgary.
And finally, Troy Ryan will head the bench in Toronto on the back of his coaching experience within Hockey Canada. He's been successful on both the men's and women's sides, most recently this year, where he won both silver and gold with the women's and men's teams, respectively.
FIRST THREE SIGNINGS
Aerin Frankel, G
Megan Keller, D
Hilary Knight, F
Kendall Coyne Schofield, F
Kelly Pannek, F
Lee Stecklein, D
Ann-Renee Desbiens, G
Marie-Philip Poulin, F
Laura Stacey, F
Alex Carpenter, F
Abby Roque, F
Micah Zandee-Hart, D
Emily Clark, F
Brianne Jenner, F
Emerance Maschmeyer, G
Renata Fast, D
Sarah Nurse, F
Blayre Turnbull, F
You can watch the player press conferences and other PWHL media on the Black Rosie Media YouTube channel.
If I were GM ...
I'm biased toward the net in the best of circumstances, but I honestly do think the best teams focus on the back end and build their way out from there. With the wealth of talent in goal, I'm firmly of the opinion that you can get a solid netminder at any point, but a perhaps tougher find is a blueliner who can truly move the puck while still being an anchor in their own zone.
New York already has a leg up in that regard, having signed a player in that caliber in Micah Zandee-Hart, but there are other blueliners -- Tori Howran, Savannah Harmon, Saroya Tinker -- who can fill that role as well. Sophie Jaques is much more offensively-minded but is one hell of a pick to build your team around as well. If you've got your heart set on forwards, though, there are some incredibly well-rounded ones like Kennedy Marchment, Mikyla Grant-Mentis, and McKenna Brand, who will likely be taken later than they should, but are awesome on both ends of the ice and can be electric on special teams.
How to watch
A full list of links to watch the draft, including via CBC, TSN, regional U.S.-based NESN, Twitch, and YouTube, can be found here.