Finishing in first place during the NWHL's regular season meant that Boston Pride GM Hayley Moore was assigned the fourth and final pick during the 2016 NWHL Draft on Saturday.
Moore selected goaltender Ane-Renee Desbiens, forwards Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Sarah Nurse, and Lara Stalder, and defender Halli Krzyzaniak. Following the Draft, she spoke with members of the media via conference call to share some of the details of the drafting process.
"I knew that I had to come in over-prepared because there's a lot that can happen, especially in that first round," Moore said. "Being the fourth pick, I really wasn't sure what to expect." In April, Moore attended the NCAA Coaches' Conference, which she said helped her to acquire behind-the-scenes information about prospective draft picks. While the actual draft tends to be stressful, Moore said that the part she enjoys the most is yet to come.
"I've had the opportunity to watch these players since they were high school athletes, so it's been really fun for me to follow along since their senior years in high school throughout their college careers until now," she explained. "I've been able to see them in different roles and see them develop as players."
However, Moore is faced with the challenge of geography, as all five of the Pride's draft picks play on teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). Maintaining strong communication with their coaches will be the key to staying up-to-date on each of the Pride's draft picks, Moore said.
The other unique problem NWHL general managers must grapple with is the fact that all players are only allowed to sign one-year contracts, leaving the roster a mystery from year to year and making it difficult to plan ahead.
"At the end of the day I felt that it was the best strategy to just come in and take the best players that were available and then deal with the side effects later on," Moore said. "It's our job to make sure that we're creating the best and most attractive environment for players to play, so I put that weight on my shoulders to make sure that this is a spot in a team that they are gonna be really proud to join."
Moore used the Pride's first pick to select Ane-Renee Desbiens of the University of Wisconsin, who she described as "a program-changer." When asked if she felt pressure to focus on the WCHA, given the rumors of league expansion, she responded by noting that three of the Pride's five picks finished in the WCHA's top 10 in scoring during the 2015-2016 season. Brykaliuk ranked 6th with 47 points (18-29), Stalder was 8th with 41 (17-24), and Sarah Nurse tied for 10th place with 38 (25-13).
Aside from the Draft, there has been little news coming from the NWHL regarding...well, anything. Stay tuned — as soon as we know anything, so will you.