The Toronto ??? need some netminders! Gosh, I hope that doesn't become a refrain for the next decade. Lucky for Toronto's new PWHL team, there are plenty of stellar options for them to pick from in the upcoming PWHL Draft.
To recap, Toronto have reportedly signed three skaters (Sarah Nurse, Blayre Turnbull, and Renata Fast) to contracts in the pre-Draft free agency period where each team is allowed to sign three players. Following the 15-round draft there will be another free agency period, as well as options for training camp invitations.
Two forwards and a defender, but note no goalie. Montreal has their goalie in Ann-Renee Desbiens, as do Ottawa with Emerance Maschmeyer. On the American side of the league, we haven't seen a goalie get signed yet, but New York currently has a spot after reportedly signing Abby Roque and Alex Carpenter to contracts.
As is always the case in hockey, PDO – often known as luck – can vary wildly from team to team from year to year. But it always helps to have high skill in the positions that do a lot of shooting and saving. That means, whenever possible, getting a stellar goalie. Toronto's two main rivals arguably have that already, meaning it's up to the third Canadian team to get on program.
But who's available and how can they join the team?
Second part first. Toronto picks second in the inaugural PWHL draft, as well as 11th, 14th, and so on in the snake draft. You can find the team's draft list, as well as who is on the roster in the link below. We've made a contract and roster tracker for the PWHL!
Will Toronto need to use one of their top picks on a goalie? It wouldn't hurt. The last thing they'd want to do is lose out on a massively important position, or even go into the season shorthanded. Trades are not allowed until after the first game.
If Toronto are indeed going to prioritize, here's who they can select from. I've sorted by location for obvious reasons.
Kristen Campbell is the obvious first choice in net as one of Canada's three national team goalies. The 25-year-old from Brandon, Manitoba is an NCAA champion and multiple gold medalist, and she'll absolutely be hoping for lots of playing time outside of centralization practices with the national team. In 11 games with the PWHPA, she had two shutouts and a .920 save percentage. She also played with Turnbull on Team Scotiabank last year. She plays aggressive and would be down for some fun hockey.
Shea Tiley has played in the CWHL, SDHL, and PWHPA for Toronto and others with generally good results. She was behind Aerin Frankel and Maddie Rooney on Minnesota's PW team (with Nurse and Fast), but when she played she looked solid with a .907 in two games last year. Her name has been floating around as she's well-regarded. Marlène Boissonnault also only played in two games last year, but she had an impressive .935. She's been fighting to get onto the scene and be a regular goalie for a couple years now.
Erica Howe and Amanda Makela are sort of where the results drop off among former PWHPA goalies. Both Howe and Makela struggled with below .900 save percentages. I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't in the group of 12 goalies with regular lineup spots, but potentially in the area as third or fourth strings.
Moving over to the former PHF, it was a weaker league on skater talent, so goaltending results were strong. Corinne Schroeder of the Boston Pride held a .955 (!) save percentages over 22 games, leading the league in both categories. The 24-year-old is a Canadian, also from Manitoba, and likely had a season impressive enough to land her one of those 12 jobs. It'll likely come down to pro scouting and training camp for the team (and us) to know how things shake out. Comparing between leagues is tricky for reasons like this.
Also from the PHF are Amanda Leveille, who I brought up in my signing prediction article as a goalie option in Ottawa. But with Maschmeyer and likely Lacasse in net there, she could travel down the 401 to Toronto. She was second in the PHF save percentage with a .923 in Minnesota. Again, Schroeder was in another world.
I also like Elaine Chuli from Waterford, Ontario who played for the Toronto Furies back in the day and the Toronto Six for three seasons. She's Toronto through and through, and she has the results to backup a shot at a full-time job. Her backup in Toronto, Carly Jackson, might also get some attention.
In all, from Canada, there's an obvious top candidate, and many backup and depth options that could provide some upside. I think in this case, depending on what Toronto considers the skill difference between the PWHPA and PHF, we might see some of the PHF goalies get some bigger jobs. That is, unless Toronto can lure some international goalies over to Lake Ontario.
- Aerin Frankel (USA)
- Maddie Rooney (USA)
- Nicole Hensley (USA)
- Alex Cavallini (USA)
- Abby Levy (USA)
- Emma Söderberg (SWE)
- Anni Keisala (FIN)*
- Andrea Brändli (SWI)*
- Sara Grahn (SWE)*
- Sandra Abstreiter (GER)
- Riko Kawaguchi (JPN)**
- Miyuu Masuhara (JPN)**
*The several players above with asterisks next to their names have contracts with the SDHL (Swedish Women's Hockey League) and would have to break their contract or something to come here since the leagues overlap in schedules.
The American goalies will probably find spots are starters in the USA within the PWHL, but it's worth putting them on the board just in case, especially since we have a Draft. Frankel is arguably the best young goalie in the world (debatable with Levy), and acquiring her talent would be a huge coup in women's hockey.
Emma Söderberg, 25, is one goalie without those SDHL restraints and could be a huge get for Toronto, filling their Swedish quota in the process. Söderberg recently graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, so she's on this side of the coast and told the Swedish press she was declaring for the PWHL draft.
Finland's goalie, Anni Ahola, isn't available as she's still in college. Meanwhile, Sandra Abstreiter of Germany has graduated from Providence College and might also come by this way rather than play in Europe.
**Last but not least are Japan's two goalies, 18-year-old Riko Kawagushi and 21-year-old Miyuu Masuhara. Neither are in the NCAA from what I can tell, but it's also unclear to me whether they're willing to come and play pro in Canada versus potential school in Japan since their both post-secondary age.
All-in-all, if you were to ask me who Toronto would have in net this season, I would say Kristen Campbell as a no-doubter, along with Emma Söderberg behind her. The wild card is the Americans. During the PWHPA and PHF seasons, goalies played across both borders.
Trying to get two out of those seven (Campbell, Söderberg, Frankel, Rooney, Hensley, Cavallini, Levy) would be excellent. That said, none of the American teams have picked up a goalie yet. The market is going to put them in high demand and the draft is going to be a frenzy.
And with that, I ask you. Do you think the Toronto ??? should take a goalie with their second overall pick?