The National Women's Hockey League's inaugural entry draft was not open to media, but the League made up for that somewhat by having excellent social media coverage, and a Periscope Q&A after the draft. Boston had the third pick through five rounds, after the Riveters and the Whale, and followed by the Buffalo Beauts. All four teams had excellent players available to them, but there were fewer defense available, making each team's selection on the back end especially interesting.
With that in mind, here are the Boston Pride's very first five draft picks and a brief scouting report of each. I consulted my memory, knowledgeable folks on Twitter, At Even Strength's pre-draft rankings, and USCHO's D-I Women's Hockey page.
- Kendall Coyne F (Northeastern, Team USA) - Ranked third overall by At Even Strengh, Coyne was the obvious choice after Hannah Brandt and Alex Carpenter went at #2 and #1, respectively. She is an energy player who makes up for her smaller size with speed and assertive play down low. Her points per game pace with Northeastern leading into her senior year is just over 1.7. She also had 2G 4A in five games in the 2014 Olympics, winning the silver medal with Team USA. Coyne's maturity, responsibility away from the puck, and prodigious scoring ability make her one of the best available players in the draft.
- Emerance Maschmeyer G (Harvard, Team Canada) - Maschmeyer's career save percentage at Harvard has always hovered around 0.94, good for 4th best overall in the entire NCAA Division I this past season. She also has a strong pedigree with Team Canada, earning a shutout back in 2012 to clinch the gold medial in the 2012 World Women's U18 Championship. She made her debut at the senior level in 2015 on Canada's silver medal winning squad at the Women's Worlds in Sweden. Her steady, consistent play at a young age (she earned the starting job with Harvard as a freshman) would seem to forecast an enormous upside for her going forward.
- Lexi Bender D (Boston College) - The Snohomish, Washington native took a few years to make her mark on a deep Eagles team, but had a breakout year in 2014-15 with 6 goals and 23 assists, nearly doubling her offensive production from each of the previous two seasons. As At Even Strength pointed out, this was the best point total from a junior class defender. When asked why Bender was on her radar among available blueliners, GM Hayley Moore cited Bender's size (she's 5'8") and speed. Bender has big shoes to fill with Emily Pfalzer departing after her sparkling senior year, and it will be interesting to see how she develops.
- Miye D'Oench F (Harvard) - D'Oench is a gifted forward whose goal totals speak for themselves, and she has produced more and more on the power play as her college career has progressed. She has been described as energetic and a strong skater, and is a right-handed shot. She is also a teammate of Maschmeyer's. Several sets of teammates went to the same NWHL club in this draft, which is probably equal parts team-building and convenience of location. You'll also note that Boston's first four draft picks are all already local to the Boston area.
- Shannon Macaulay F (Clarkson) - Macaulay breaks the mold for Boston--she currently plays for Clarkson in Potsdam, NY and is from Prince Edward Island. She's physically one of the taller players in the game at 5'11" and her offensive production has increased steadily over the years. She has also been a leader for her team, earning the C on her jersey for her junior year. Her timely scoring, size, and two-way play make her stand out.
After the draft, Rylan emphasized that this draft system is about future planning while allowing each player to finish their collegiate eligibility and degree programs. "We're strategically drafting players going into their senior year of college, class of 2016, so they have a chance to establish themselves in their new city," she said. "It was very heavily shaped by the [NCAA] compliance rules. We put a heavy emphasis on the players finishing their college careers. . . It is our feeder program. We want to make sure that the players get their four years of eligibility before they come to play for the NWHL."
For the full list of draft picks, check out the NWHL's list. Boston and New England based college players were well-represented, and BC's Alex Carpenter, as expected, was picked by the NY Riveters first overall. A lot of BC and Harvard players went in the draft, but the only Boston University player drafted was F Sarah Lefort. Any player who was not drafted is eligible for free agency after she graduates as a senior. Drafted players can also choose not to sign with the team that drafted them and enter free agency, too--the point of the draft is to allow for planning ahead between teams and prospects. And players who recently graduated as seniors may be announced as signing with an NWHL club by the August 17 deadline (which is, by the way, immediately followed on August 18 by the CWHL draft).
You can follow the new draft picks on Twitter: @ShannonMacaulay, @Me_yay_doench, @bendy0, @Emerance_M, and @KendallCoyne. A big welcome to Boston professional hockey to Kendall, Emerance, Lexi, Miye, and Shannon!