The National Women's Hockey League continues its offseason with numerous player signings, its first international draft and several front office moves. In case you've missed anything over the last few weeks, let's take a look at what's happened in the league.
The 2016 CWHL draft took place on Sunday. Over 16 rounds, 66 players were chosen, as each team sought to strengthen its weaknesses.
The Inferno padded their depth and added the best prospect in the draft by taking Emerance Maschmeyer in the first round. Brampton shored up their forward depth, allowing Toronto to address issues on defense. The Blades, who finished with the most draft picks, focused on correcting offensive woes.
Clarkson had five players taken, the most in the draft. Four of those players ended up in the Greater Toronto Area, while one went to Boston. Boston University was next on the list of most drafted players, with four, and three of those players were taken by the Blades.
1 1 Kayla Tutino F Boston University
2 6 Chelsea Goldberg F Northeastern
3 11 Casandra Opela D UConn
4 16 Meghan Grieves F Boston College
5 21 Dakota Woodworth F Boston University
6 26 Margaret Zimmer F UConn
7 31 Alexis Woloschuk D Boston University
8 36 Sato Kikuchi D Nippon Sports Science University (Japan)
9 41 Taylor McGee D Holy Cross
10 46 Melissa Bizzari F Boston College
11 50 Katie Leary F Boston College
12 54 Lauren Dahm G Clarkson
13 58 Amanda Fontaine G Sacred Heart
14 61 Megan Fitzgerald F Hamilton
14 64 Alexandra Karlis F UMass Boston
16 66 Jennifer Currie F UMass Boston
The Blades picked in every round, adding players who could score and play defense. Boston also received all the other players who had not been drafted, but who listed Boston as their primary location.
"We definitely got some much-needed depth," general manager Krista Patronick said. "I was really happy with that."
Boston started off the draft by addressing their scoring depth through taking Terrier alumnus Kayla Tutino. Tutino registered 30 points in 39 games last season.
"When you have someone like Tutino who, A has the scoring touch, and B she can step into that leadership role because she’s had that leadership role at BU, all those things together kind of keep the wheels on towards the end when you have those games and the team needs to rally to kind of come together and finish," Patronick said.
Defense was another issue for the Blades last season, an issue that the Blades addressed by picking up four defenders in the draft. One of them was third-round pick Cassandra Opela and another was Japan's Sato Kikuchi.
"Everything that I’d heard about her was that she was a solid [defender]," Patronick said of Kikuchi. “We definitely had a need in the defense area; if you remember last season, we were running sometimes four or five D and they were getting heavy minutes -- especially kids like Watch -- were getting heavy minutes. So anytime you have the opportunity to draft a [defender] who maybe isn’t even an offensive [defender] like Watch, is but is a stay at home or whatever it is, anytime you can get relief on the back end is a good thing so I was really happy to draft her."
Opela, the team's highest-drafted defender, played in 98 games over her career at Connecticut.
"Stay-at-home defensemen don’t really get the clout that the forwards do sometimes, but she is such a solid [defender]," Patronick said. "She’s a big body, she’s not as big as [Tara Watchorn] obviously, but she’ll definitely add size on D which is one of those things, it's genetic, so when you get a big body on D, that’s so helpful."
It's still difficult to know how the defense will play together, but a better offense will certainly boost the team's possession and should help the defense.
1 2 Renata Fast D Clarkson
2 7 Erin Ambrose D Clarkson
3 12 Michela Cava F Minnesota Duluth
5 22 Jenna Dingeldein F Mercyhurst
6 27 Danielle Gagne F Ohio State
7 32 Erin Zach F RIT (Buffalo Beauts)
8 37 Vanessa Spataro LW SCSU
9 42 Ella Stewart D Elmira
10 47 Victoria Mackenzie F University of Ontario Institute of Technology
11 51 Carlee Eusepi D Clarkson
12 55 Jaclyn Gibson F University of Ontario Institute of Technology
13 59 Nicole Kirchberger F Buffalo State
14 62 Jessica Platt D NA
14 65 Alessandra Armstrong G Ryerson
The biggest weakness for Toronto from last season was the defense, which the Furies immediately addressed by selecting one of the best blue-liners available in Renata Fast from Clarkson. But the great drafting didn't end there, as the Furies picked up another Golden Knight in Erin Ambrose, which gave Toronto two stellar defenders early on.
The Furies then looked to address scoring and got some depth in Michela Cava. While Cava wasn't an NCAA scoring leader last year, she recorded 38 points in 37 games with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Toronto got a lot better just in the draft, and the defense -- combined with some added offense -- makes the Furies a team to look out for in the league.
1 3 Laura Stacey F Dartmouth
2 8 Shannon MacAulay F Clarkson
3 13 Nicole Brown F Quinnipiac
4 17 Jaimie McDonell F Princeton
4 18 Kaitlyn Tougas F Bemidji State
5 23 Taylor Woods F Cornell
6 28 Kristen Barbara D York
7 33 Darlene Clapham F Western
8 38 Jessica Hartwick D Ryerson
9 43 Melissa Wronzberg F Ryerson
10 48 Emily Grainger D University of British Columbia
11 52 Jetta Rackleff G RIT
12 56 Jessa McAuliffe D York
13 60 Nicki Robinson F University of Saskatchewan
14 63 Kelly Campbell G Western
Brampton didn't have a specific need going into the draft, but Lori Dupuis said she it would be great if the team could add some scoring depth. They did just that by drafting nine forwards.
The Thunder, already strong defensively, snagged forward Laura Stacey third overall. The former Dartmouth captain recorded 23 points her senior year. Brampton added more scoring in Shannon MacAulay, Nicole Brown and Jaimie McDonell and Kaitlyn Tougas.
Brampton also added some defense and goaltending in the draft, which helps to secure some depth. The Thunder were already a contender before the draft, and more offensive depth can only help.
1 4 Emerance Maschmeyer G Harvard
2 9 Katelyn Gosling D Western
3 14 Iya Gavrilova F University of Calgary
4 19 Misty Seaston D N/A
5 24 Akane Hosoyamada D Syracuse
6 29 Cara Schlitz D N/A
7 34 Caitlin Zevola F Spruce Grove Saints
8 39 Claudia Tellez F Mexico Women's National Team
9 44 Debbie Beaudoin F Vancouver Griffins
10 49 Rina Takeda D NA
11 53 Stephanie Nehring G University of Guelph
12 57 Toni Ross G University of Regina
The reigning CWHL champions had little to improve on, as they only needed to fill spaces of retired players. Calgary started with goaltending by drafting Emerance Maschmeyer, the best prospect available at the draft.
“She is one of the type of people that just works hard, doesn’t take a day off and then wants to make sure that she’s bettering herself," Calgary general manager Jeff Stevenson said.
Calgary then went on to strengthen all areas of the ice in the first three rounds, adding Katelyn Gosling -- one of the best defenders available in the CIS -- and Iya Gavrilova, a member of the Russian National team who led the CIS in scoring last year.
"[Gosling] is very level-headed," Stevenson said. "She’s very relaxed and poised out there, so she doesn’t get in situations where she panics very often and can really control the game from the back end, get the puck out of the zone and move it out to the attacking zone. She’s definitely got some growth to do there but is going to be a solid addition to our team.”
The Inferno also added Mexico's Claudia Tellez in the eighth round.
“There’s definitely a lot of intrigue and mystery surrounding Claudia Tellez from Mexico, not a lot known about her," Stevenson said. "We’ve been able to see some footage and some game tape and speak to her. One thing we know for sure is that she’s very committed to learning and getting better and improving her game and trying to help make hockey more popular in Mexico. That’s something that, as a league and as a team, to have an opportunity to bring in a player that wants to help grow the game at that level was too interesting of an opportunity for us to pass up when she was still there in the eighth round.”
Last season, Tellez played for Mexico in the World Championship Division II Group B and recorded four points through five games.
“She definitely had some pretty good hands, a good shot that was there," Stevenson said. "It’s definitely hard to know for sure what you’re getting because you don’t know the level that she was playing against, but when you see someone shoot the puck you can generally tell if they’ve got a good shot or not...Her desire to come to Canada to play and to work hard to get better. That’s something that we’ve always looked for [are] players that are going to work hard to improve and get better, both on and off the ice."
1 5 Sarah Lefort F Boston University
2 10 Cassandra Poudrier D Cornell
3 15 Ariane Barker F University of Montreal
4 20 Brittney Fouracres D McGill
5 25 Marion Allemoz F University of Montreal
6 30 Taylor Hough G McGill
7 35 Melanie Desrochers D St. Lawrence
8 40 Amanda Makela G Mercyhurst (Buffalo Beauts)
9 45 Nachi Fujimoto D Sapporo International University
Les Canadiennes were also a strong team entering the draft. But general manager Meg Hewings had wanted to add defensive depth, especially with veteran Julie Chu taking a part-time role with the team this season.
Les Canadiennes did just that by taking three defenders, starting with Cassandra Poudrier in the second round.
"Poudrier was an outstanding player on the blue line for Cornell," Hewings said. "She’s been developing with the national program and she really proved herself in her senior year with showcasing some of her offensive talent, but also just being a really solid player for Cornell. We're hoping she can do the same for Les Canadiennes.
"She’s obviously, she’s a really mature player, a smart player and also a leader too so she’s the kind of player that we like to bring into the organization and hopeful with grow with us for many seasons to come."
Les Canadiennes also picked Brittney Fouracres from McGill and Melanie Desrochers from St. Lawrence. Hewings pegged Desrochers as a more unheralded draft pick.
"She obviously was quite an offensive [defender] at St. Lawrence when she was there," Hewings said.
"She’s also someone who was very solid for St. Lawrence and I think was pretty much their top scorer even in [her] senior year also, so all three are offensive defense and solid on the blue line.”
They started the draft by taking Sarah Lefort, who netted 35 points in 34 games last year. Lefort, who ended the season on an injury, said she is still healing.
“Coming off an injury, [I'm] still not 100 percent cleared to participate in play and in all physical activity off the ice," Lefort said. "So I'm just getting back to my mindset, getting back to the ice and then hopefully playing come the beginning of the season in October.”
Lefort, a graduate of Boston University, played several seasons with Les Canadiennes' star Marie-Philip Poulin.
"I was just pretty excited," Lefort said. "Obviously it’s the end of my college career chapter of my life and the beginning of a new chapter, so that’s just an exciting moment to be drafted by Montreal.”
The regular CWHL season will begin on Saturday, October 15th and run until February 19th, 2017, followed by the Clarkson Cup playoffs.
(Photo credit: Chris Tanouye/CWHL)
Filed under: cwhl; ice hockey; 2016 cwhl draft
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