The PWHL Draft is coming up at the beginning of next week (September 18th) and yesterday the league announced the full eligibility list for the Draft and Free Agency. Players on the eligibility list had to register for the league on September 3rd, those who did not cannot play this upcoming season.
There is one notable player who didn't join the league. Amanda Kessel, who is working for the Pittsburgh Penguins, said that she was interested in playing in the PWHL come January. That is apparently no longer the case. We'll have to wait and see if the 32-year-old superstar is going to play hockey this season.
We have added to our roster and contract database (who are we kidding, it's Google Sheets for the time being) with the full eligibility list, of which there are 268 players from all over the world. Plus the 18 who have already signed (and also registered for the league on the 3rd), that's 286 players who want to join a league that can only hold 138 on their rosters and 168 at training camp. This league is going to be competitive to say the least. There are 47 goalies for between 12 and 18 jobs!
There are players from Canada, the United States, Finland, Czechia, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Denmark, Slovakia, Taiwan, Austria, Netherlands, France, Italy, and Germany. Including players who are planning to leave the SDHL. My current favourite player is 16-year-old Lilly Legault who is playing U18 AA with the Peterborough Ice Kats of the OWHL!
It is widely reported that Minnesota is going to pick 23-year-old local Taylor Heise, who won all the offense awards in the NCAA and won player of the tournament at the 2022 WWC, leading the tournament in scoring.
After Heise, Toronto has the chance to pick anyone they'd like. 25-year-old Swiss centre Alina Müller – who was runner up to Heise in a lot of the NCAA awards – is one pick that stands out. Her claim to fame was leading the 2018 Olympics in scoring and being named best forward of the tournament at the age of 20. She's been within the top handful of players during her college career. On top of her immense skill, Müller carries with her all the leadership and determination qualities you love and tend to see out of players who have to carry her whole country on her shoulders year in, year out. Just imagine what she could do on an even playing field with a bunch of great players around her.
Other players that stand out include Jamie Lee Rattray (Ottawa fans are begging for their local hero to fall to them), Natalie Spooner, Erin Ambrose, Hannah Brandt (USA's 1C), and Grace Zumwinkle (finished between Heise and Müller in NCAA scoring). I'm definitely missing names, but my guess is if Toronto pick a skater, it'll be between one of these players above.
Let's talk about goalies. We have some expected international goalies, like Emma Söderberg, but one goalie I didn't mention in my last article, Finnish hockey legend Noora Räty. Put her in a class with her teammate Meeri Räisänen, Abby Levy, Emma Söderberg, Kristen Campbell, Corinne Schroeder, and Maddie Rooney, Toronto should be able to come away with the goalie they need with picks 2 and 8.
Looking ahead to the Draft, I am planning to do some kind of mock draft for at most the first two or three rounds. It'll be really difficult because I don't watch the NCAA, and making determinations between the varying leagues and positions of value will be a completely impossible task for just one person. Nevertheless, I'll try, but it'll probably be really wrong.
In terms of coverage, what would you like to see from us? We probably shouldn't spam the front page with 15 articles for each draft pick, but maybe a few with additional details about how the roster is forming? Our focus will be on Toronto, but we'll make sure to go over the whole league.
The Draft will be streamed on CBC Sports in Canada and on Twitch in the USA and around the world, as well as live updates on the PWHL website. Coverage starts at 12pm with the Purple Carpet, with the draft itself beginning at 1pm. The Draft will be at the CBC building in Toronto and is sponsored by Canadian Tire.
Read back through our PWHL tag to catch yourself up on all the league news, including the draft order and initial rosters.