Summer has begun, but a lot is still going to happen in the women's hockey world before October.
Dates to Remember
Might want to keep these in your calendar.
- Saturday, June 20: The inaugural NWHL Entry Draft will take place in Boston at 12pm. NWHL draft prospects are not eligible to play this season; instead, they will have just completed their junior years of four-year college and will be eligible to play for the team that drafts them upon the completion of their senior years. According to the NWHL's site, players are not committed to the team that drafts them; they can choose to become free agents and sign with another team, but being drafted gives them a chance to establish themselves in a new city if necessary and also get involved with their team. The draft order was decided on Monday June 8th by lottery: the New York Riveters will pick first, followed by the Connecticut Whale, the Boston Pride, and the Buffalo Beauts. Each team will get five picks. In future seasons, the draft order will be decided by regular season standings. The NWHL draft is currently free to enter for prospective players.
- Thursday, July 23 through Sunday, July 26: The NWHL will hold an international players' camp at Ristuccia in the afternoon. Over the weekend of July 25-26, two teams will play in the Women's Beantown Classic in Marlborough, MA--one NWHL International Players team and one team of NWHL prospects.
Monday, August 17: NWHL free agent signing deadline. Players must be signed by this date to be eligible for the 2015-2016 NWHL season.
- Tuesday, August 18: The CWHL will release a list of the top 3-5 players in each position (forward, defense, goaltender) who have registered for their draft.
- Sunday, August 23: The CWHL Entry Draft will take place. The CWHL entry draft rules are different from the NWHL's; you can go over them yourself here. Mainly, there is no requirement that you be registered at any college program--in fact, you can only enter the draft if you are not committed to any college or professional team, and draftees are eligible to play in the upcoming season. There is a $150CAD registration fee.
CWHL Contracts? The Mystery Endures
I had previously thought that when discussing contracts in the CWHL, that the contracts were technically to play in the league rather than for a specific team in the league. However, certain language in the above linked draft guidelines for the CWHL refers to the signing of a "standard player contract with a CWHL club."
This creates more questions than answers, and I still can't tell you what a CWHL contract or its terms entails. I have asked before, but have never received an on-the-record response from the CWHL (not even a "no comment"). I will, however, say the following: CWHL players were involved in some kind of contract through the end of the 2015 season and possibly subsequent to that.
CWHL players who appeared in NWHL tryout camps may have burned bridges with respect to returning to the CWHL to play--practicing with another league may be in violation of any current contract, resulting in some kind of suspension. This is extrapolation based on rumor and hearsay, so take that with a grain of salt.
Looking Forward: Teams and Commitments
- Marie-Philip Poulin will be returning to the Montreal Stars for the 2015-16 NWHL season, which was first reported by Radio Canada on June 3rd (French link). Poulin played with the Stars between 2007 and 2009 before beginning her collegiate career at Boston University. As those of us who root for USA Hockey know all too well, Poulin is an incredible player who will elevate the Stars' offense considerably. Further reports: CWHL.ca, TVA Sports (French)
- Former Boston Blade and OT heroine Janine Weber has signed with Linköpings HC Dam in Sweden. Weber, formerly of Providence College, attended Connecticut Whale tryout camp last month, but the relative proximity to her home in Austria may have been a factor in deciding to play in Europe. LHC Dam is part of Dam Division I (Women's Division I) in Sweden, which consists of 25 teams, often affiliated with a local Swedish Hockey League men's team. Over 600 players play in Dam Division I according to eurohockey.com.
- There was a weird mix-up at Buffalo Beauts camp. Jenelle Kohanchuk (Toronto Furies, Team Canada) was listed as a camp attendee, but she refuted this on Twitter and did not actually attend camp. Watch This Hockey has a full recap of the Beauts camp here.
- I finally got a New York Riveters camp roster while I was away on vacation. Here it is.
- The CWHL maintains that the Boston Blades will exist next season, if you take note of their draft registration page. However, no news has emerged about team staff or who will be on the roster, or if any players from the 2014-15 Boston Blades Clarkson Cup championship campaign will remain. As you may recall, both most recent Blades' team captains Hilary Knight and Jessica Koizumi appeared at the NWHL launch event in April, and other Blades players appeared at Boston Pride camp.
- Former Blades head coach Digit Murphy and GM Aronda Kirby appear to be devoting their energies to a semi-professional women's lacrosse league, called United Women's Lacrosse (UWLX), through Murphy's Play It Forward Sport Foundation and in partnership with STX. Kirby and Murphy were fired by the CWHL on April 10. STX provided a press release regarding UWLX and their equipment sponsorship on May 21.
We may be entering a slightly dry period of women's hockey news, but hopefully rosters begin to take shape sooner rather than later, and we get an idea about what the ice is going to be like out there come October. August 17 and 18 are the big dates to look forward to, since that's when we will begin to see for sure who will be playing in each league next season among currently eligible players. If any more signings or commitments are released, I'll post about them as soon as I can. Go Blades? Go Pride? Go everyone?