[Originally written June 2017, when the Premier Hockey Federation, PHF, was called the National Women’s Hockey League, NWHL]
With the offseason now in full swing and free agency open, there’s plenty of movement around the league. Here I will take a look at some of the biggest signings and roster news so far.
First of all, I will note that the majority of players signed on for the 2017/18 season have signed with their current team. However, there have been some big names moving around.
5 Brownie and McLaughlin Retire:
This won’t be news for many as both players announced their retirement following Buffalo’s underdog performance to win the Isobel Trophy against the Boston Pride. They’ve both done great things for both the league and Buffalo. The league as a whole will miss their personalities- but more importantly for the scoreboard, their talent.
4 Rookie Signings:
So far, five new players will be taking to the ice this coming season: a very promising stat as it shows that players are wanting to come and play in the NWHL. They’re going to have some big shoes to fill with many of the league’s key superstars away on national duty at the Olympics. The current rookie class includes Brianna Laing, sister of Denna Laing who suffered a spinal injury in the 2016 Winter Classic, sadly ending her playing career. Another addition is Sydney Rossman who will try to bring some consistency to the Whale’s goal tending situation.
3 Kelli Stack moving to the CWHL:
This signing is a huge blow to the league- particularly the Whale, who will be losing one of their key play makers and fan favourite. She is the franchise leader in points (41), 10 more than second place Kelly Babstock. Her move will massively help the new CWHL franchise Kunlun Red Star get off to a great start, but that will be little consolation for the Whale and the league as a whole.
2 Janine Weber signs with the Pride:
The Pride are losing 7 of their top players as they head off to train for the coming Olympics and so they have a big skill vacuum to fill. They’ve certainly found some skill in the signing of Janine Weber, who enjoyed a breakout year last year putting up 22 points in 17 games for the Rivs last season. This is a huge blow to the Riveters, who will be losing their two star players in Weber and Kessel. Meanwhile, the Pride will be over the moon with the addition of Weber; they will massively increase their chances of reclaiming the Isobel Trophy with her on the roster.
1 Ten Players off to the Olympics:
This is by far the biggest loss of talent for the league, with the biggest, most recognisable names heading off to ‘centralisation’ to train for the Olympics. Those departing include Kessel, Knight, Decker and Carpenter. Although this will hurt the league, this was always going to happen and so the NWHL as a whole has been preparing for this departure. As well as this, these players will most likely be returning for season 4 and so this talent isn’t leaving the league forever. As for where the players came from: 7 players from the Pride, 2 from the Beauts and 1 from the Rivs.
A lot of talent is leaving the league for this upcoming season making room for some new guns to make their mark on the ice, whether they will or not will have to be seen. One can only hope that the players who have yet to re-sign with a team will be doing so soon. There are a lot of star players who have yet to make an announcement, including Kelly Steadman and Lauren Slebodnick to name a few. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…