Billie Jean King poses with Ella Shelton at the 2023 PWHL inaugural draft.
(Photo: PWHL)
- 6 min read

PWHL Draft Recap: New York

A well-rounded group will populate the New York PWHL roster to start, as the team added players at every position - including two goaltenders - in the inaugural draft.

PWHL Draft Recap: New York by Melissa Burgess

New York's picks were certainly an interesting mix of talent, filled with mostly Canadians and just a few American-born players in the later rounds. Chloé Aurard also joins the team as the lone French-born player in the PWHL and one of three players coming from the NCAA to New York. Brooke Hobson is one of just two in the league coming from the SDHL.

Overall: It's a nice balance of experience from the PWHPA, PHF, college and overseas as selected by general manager Pascal Daoust. Having already signed forwards Alex Carpenter and Abby Roque and defender Micah Zandee-Hart, New York filled out its roster nicely with two goaltenders, four defenders and nine forwards.

Draft picks

Round 1: Ella Shelton (LD), 1998, PWHPA (4th overall) – Shelton was a bit of a surprise this early in the draft, but she joins the PWHL with two years of PWHPA experience and a bit of Canadian national team experience. She captained Clarkson in her senior season and averaged a point per game, too, showcasing an offensive upside that could blossom.

Round 2: Jaime Bourbonnais (RD), 1998, PWHPA (9th overall) – Since Bourbonnais plays on the right side, she could be a nice top pairing match for the already-signed Micah Zandee-Hart. Bourbonnais spent the last two seasons in the PWHPA following four years at Cornell. She's also represented Canada at Worlds three times. The offensive side of her game that shone in college – she had 41 points in her senior season – hasn't translated to the pro game so far.

Round 3: Jessie Eldridge (F), 1997, PWHPA (16th overall) – General manager Pascal Daoust noted Eldridge's size and compete and key attributes, saying that she's always involved in every game. That reliability/dependability is a great factor to have, and Eldridge could complete a top line with Alex Carpenter & Abby Roque. Eldridge had 22 points in 20 games last season in the PWHPA and is a former Colgate captain.

Round 4: Chloé Aurard (F), 1999, NCAA (21st overall) – Aurard is one of three collegiate grads heading to New York, following five seasons at Northeastern. She recorded 204 points in 167 NCAA games and won a number of accolades at the 2022 D1A World Championships with France, including a gold medal, best forward, and top player on her team. Aurard spoke after being drafted about wanting to raise the profile of hockey in France. If you ever find yourself in a trivia game with the question Who was the first PWHL draft pick from France?, well, here's your answer. In Aurard's view, she hopes there will be many more.

Round 5: Élizabeth Giguère (F), 1997, PHF (28th overall) – The first of six PHF alumni to be picked up New York in the draft, Giguère is a skilled right-shot forward who had 22 points – mostly assists – with the Boston Pride last season. She captained Clarkson in her senior season before joining Minnesota-Duluth as a grad transfer and totaled 295 points (121G, 174A) in 177 career NCAA games. It's no surprise that she was a three-time Patty Kazmaier Award finalist.

Round 6: Corinne Schroeder (G), 1999, PHF (33rd overall) – A great pickup for New York as their first goaltender. Schroeder was unreal last season with the Pride; she had a 19-1-0 record with a 1.67 GAA and .955 save percentage and set multiple league records en route to being named both rookie and goaltender of the year. She previously spent four seasons at Boston University before playing for Quinnipiac as a grad transfer.

Round 7: Jill Saulnier (F), 1992, PWHPA (40th overall) – Saulnier is one of the more experienced New York draft picks, with her pro career dating back to 2015. She played the last few seasons in the PWHPA, but also skated with Les Canadiennes & the Calgary Inferno in the CWHL. Over four years in the C, she had 69 points in 62 games. A Cornell alum, she's also represented Canada at the Olympics and Worlds in recent years.

Round 8: Brooke Hobson (LD), 1999, SDHL (45th overall) - Hobson is one of a handful of draft picks who played internationally last season. She contributed at both ends of the ice for MoDo, where she had 20 points including 14 assists in 32 games. Hobson captained Northeastern for her fourth and fifth NCAA seasons, and finished her collegiate career with 98 points and a plus-104 in 170 games.

Round 9: Jade Downie-Landry (C), 1995, PHF (52nd overall) – Downie-Landry was one of just four Usports alumni to be drafted Monday. She played five seasons with McGill from 2016-2022, totaling 99 points in just 84 games. She also had 117 penalty minutes. Last season, she joined the PHF's Montreal Force, tallied 23 points in 24 games, was named an All-Star.

Round 10: Paetyn Levis (F), 1999, NCAA (57th overall) – Levis was one of 10 Ohio State alumni drafted Monday. She's fresh out of college after five NCAA seasons, including a 40-point campaign in her final year. Through 171 collegiate games, Levis put up 122 points and rated a plus-71. She formerly had a whopping 219 points in 125 high school games in Minnesota.

Round 11: Abigail Levy (G), 2000, NCAA (64th overall) – Levy joins Schroeder to tend goal for Pascal Daoust's team. A native of Congers, New York – about 45 miles from Manhattan – she's essentially heading home to kick off her pro career. Levy played two seasons with Minnesota State before three years at Boston College. She went 16-13-1 with a 1.77 GAA and .947 save percentage in her final year and was even named an alternate captain. She's also a two-time semifinalist for the National Goalie of the Year Award.

Round 12: Olivia Zafuto (LD), 1997, PHF (69th overall) – Zafuto has bounced around a bit since graduating from Colgate in 2019. Initially joining the PWHPA, she made the jump to Sweden for two seasons, playing with HV71 and Linköping before coming back stateside. Last year was her lone season in the PHF, where she appeared in 22 games with the Pride, had 10 points and 29 penalty minutes and was named an All-Star. In four years at Colgate, she had 176 penalty minutes and 104 points.

Round 13: Kayla Vespa (F), 1997, PWHPA (76th overall) – Vespa played four seasons at St. Lawrence, including serving as an alternate captain in her senior season. Her best season came in her senior year, when she put up 33 points in 36 games. From there, she joined the PWHPA for three seasons; she had 11 points in 19 games last year.

Round 14: Emma Woods (F), 1995, PHF (81st overall) – Woods really began to blossom last season on the eventual Isobel Cup champion Toronto Six. Her third season with the team (and third as an alternate captain) saw her near a point-per-game average, with 10 goals and 23 assists in 24 regular-season games. She also had three points in four playoff games. The former Quinnipiac captain also played for the Vanke Rays/Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays in the CWHL and spent one season with Leksads in the SDHL.

Round 15: Alexandra Labelle (F), 1996, PHF (88th overall) – Labelle is another Usports alum, having played five seasons at the University of Montreal from 2015-2020. She spent two seasons in the PWHPA following graduation, but her offensive production seemed to spark last season in the PHF with the Force. She had 13 points in 24 games.

By position, so far...

  • Forwards
    Alex Carpenter
    Abby Roque
    Jessie Eldridge
    Chloé Aurard
    Jill Saulnier
    Jade Downie-Landry
    Paetyn Levis
    Élizabeth Giguère
    Kayla Vespa
    Emma Woods
    Alexandra Labelle
  • Right-handed defense
    Jaime Bourbonnais
  • Left-handed defense
    Micah Zandee-Hart
    Ella Shelton
    Brooke Hobson
    Olivia Zafuto
  • Goalies
    Corinne Schroeder
    Abigail Levy

After signing Zandee-Hart prior to the draft, it was interesting to see Daoust use his first two picks on Canadian defenders. It turns out that both Roque & Carpenter had spoken to him about wanting to work with Canadian defenders, so it's fitting. In the end, Daoust went heavy on Canadians – 11 of his 15 picks.

"We already had Micah, and we decided to go from the start with Ella Shelton, and then Jaime Bourbonnais," Daoust said. "We knew from there, we'd have a great big three, and then our focus would be more on the forwards... there were so many great forwards available, [we felt] confident that we could build from there."

Shelton, Zandee-Hart and Bourbonnais are reunited, having played together nationally in the past. Shelton said she was "super excited" to hear they would be playing together. "I can't say how excited I am to play with those two," she said. "The three of us together have spent a lot of time together nationally, so be table to continue that together in New York should be super exciting... a super big opportunity for us to learn from each other and grow together... as a tripod," she said.

New York was also one of only two teams to add a pair of goalies in the draft. (Minnesota was the other.)

"The strategy for us was to show a bit of patience with the goalies – not because they don't deserve to get picked earlier, but because from my point of view, three teams were already having their own goalie," Daoust said. "We felt comfortable knowing, having two or three goalies available from our point of view that could be number one."

Overall, New York had a well-rounded draft and has a nicely-shaped roster in process and seem to be excited to play together. Of note, Daoust commented on Jessie Eldridge's involvement in every game she plays. Bourbonnais spoke about the importance of defense, and how much the organization seems to value that. Adding two top-tier goalies to the mix is a great start. Now, they'll look to add a few more right-handed defenders and fill in the gaps in their lines upfront when camps begin in November.

(Photo: PWHL/Lori Bolliger/Heather Pollock)