Danielle Marmer, Billie Jean King, Alina Müller, and Jayna Hefford pose at the PWHL draft.
- 8 min read

PWHL Draft Recap: Boston

PWHL Draft Recap: Boston by Zoë Hayden

General manager Danielle Marmer picked up some of the best offensive talent available in the draft, but made sure to add some of the best defensive talent as well to play alongside forward Hilary Knight, defender Megan Keller, and goalie Aerin Frankel.

Draft Picks

Round 1: Alina Müller (F), 1998, NCAA (3rd overall) – The Swiss national team superstar just finished up her five years of NCAA eligibility with Northeastern where she was a five-time Patty Kazmaier Award finalist and consistently one of the top scorers in the nation. The 25-year-old already has a decorated career including an Olympic bronze in 2014 when she was just fifteen. She's one of the best skaters below the goal line that you'll see in hockey and is a potentially ideal center to pair with Hilary Knight at right wing.

Round 2: Sophie Jaques (RD), 2000, NCAA (10th overall) – Jaques was one of the top prospects in this draft and was surprisingly still available at 10th overall, even with the run on skilled defenders early on. The recently-graduated Ohio State Buckeye is originally from Toronto and adds another deadly right-handed shot to Boston's blueline. Her five-year NCAA career saw her put up 156 points (61G, 95A) in 172 games. At just 22, she's the youngest player drafted by Marmer and is the reigning Patty Kazmaier Award winner.

Round 3: Jamie Lee Rattray (F), 1992, PWHPA (15th overall) – Another pick who could have gone earlier, 30-year-old Rattray is a veteran utility-knife forward who could see herself slotted in any line or special teams situation. Originally from Kanata, Ontario, she played in the NCAA at Clarkson, winning the Patty Kaz in 2014. She has represented Canada internationally at six World Championships, two U18 World Championships, and one Olympics. This past season with Team Harvey's in the PWHPA, she had 11 goals and 5 assists in 20 games, plus a goal and three assists with Team Canada at the 2023 Worlds. Her ability to score in any situation and physical edge will fit in nicely in Boston.

Round 4: Loren Gabel (F), 1997, PHF (22nd overall) – 26-year-old Gabel will remain in Boston. The erstwhile Boston Pride forward is another former Clarkson Golden Knight originally from Ontario. Gabel represented Team Canada at a single World Championship in 2019 and was another casualty of the shakeup that occurred when that team fell to the bronze medal game in Espoo. After three years in the PWHPA, Gabel joined the Boston Pride for the 2022-23 season and scored 20 goals and 20 assists in just 22 games, leading the league in all offensive categories and earning the league MVP title.

Round 5: Hannah Brandt (F), 1993, PWHPA (27th overall) – Marmer waited until round 5 to draft another Team USA player. Brandt played college hockey at the University of Minnesota from 2012-2016 before joining the Minnesota Whitecaps when they were still independent. When they joined the NWHL/PHF, she stayed on for one year before joining the PWHPA. While she has represented Team USA over seven seasons, she was not on the international roster this past World Championships. Regardless of her international future, she has a spot in Boston as a pro. Brandt brings leadership, experience, and a pure goal-scoring touch; she had 7 goals and 4 assists in 20 games with Team Sonnet this past PWHPA season.

Round 6: Jessica DiGirolamo (LD), 1999, PWHPA (34th overall) – 24-year-old DiGirolamo originally hails from Mississauga and played five seasons of NCAA hockey at Syracuse, where she was also team captain in 2021-22. After completing her college eligibility, she joined the PWHPA and played for Team adidas and had a goal and 4 assists in 20 games. DiGirolamo is a mobile defender who is not afraid to generate offense through traffic.

Round 7: Theresa Schafzahl (F), 2000, NCAA (39th overall) – 23-year-old Schafzahl just graduated from the University of Vermont and becomes the only Austrian player selected in the PWHL draft. As team captain during her senior season with the Catamounts, she recorded 21 goals and 24 assists in 36 games. She had just signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Force in May but now has the opportunity to bring her offensive talents and quick shot to Boston. She also has a long history of representing Austria internationally and, like her new teammate Müller, will be looking to elevate the profile of women's hockey in her home country.

Round 8: Emily Brown (LD), 1998, PWHPA (46th overall) – Brown is a Blaine, Minnesota native who played five seasons with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, her last two as team captain, graduating in 2022 with a degree in mechanical engineering. From there, she joined Team Sonnet in the PWHPA. In women's hockey, where even defensively-minded blueliners can tend to move up on plays and get involved in offense, Brown is one of the most "stay-at-home" defenders you'll see, which is a great asset to have in a league so stacked with offense. She's pesky to play against and is excellent at disrupting zone entries and exits; she also has strong passing ability and generates offense indirectly by controlling play from the blueline. The 24-year-old is a great foil and d-partner for a more offensively-minded defender like Keller or Jaques.

Round 9: Taylor Girard (F), 1998, PHF (51st overall) – Girard played five years of college hockey, first at Lindenwood before transferring to Quinnipiac, graduating in 2021. She then joined the PHF's Connecticut Whale after being drafted first overall in 2021. The 25-year-old most recently most posted 28 points in 24 games with the Whale. She's a consistent goal-scorer who can also block shots and forecheck hard.

Round 10: Emma Söderberg (G), 1998, NCAA (58th overall) – Boston snagged arguably the best available goalie in the draft to play alongside Frankel, perhaps indicating that they'll be more of an evenly split goaltending tandem. 25-year-old Söderberg hails from Sweden where she's been a mainstay on their national team since 2015, first at the U18 level and later at the senior World Championships and Olympics. She just finished her NCAA eligibility at the University of Minnesota Duluth; in her final season, she boasted a 1.39 GAA and 0.938 save percentage with 12 shutouts in the offensively stacked WCHA conference. She then went on to start for Sweden at their best World Championships showing in quite some time, posting a 0.924 save percentage over 5 games.

Round 11: Sophie Shirley (F), 1999, NCAA (63rd overall) – Shirley played one season with the Calgary Inferno in 2017-18 before joining the University of Wisconsin where she was a two-time national champion in a five-year NCAA career. She has represented Canada twice at the U18 level, winning two silver medals. The 24-year-old from Saskatoon is an offensive threat who plays with high energy and physicality – a "wrecking ball" as described by VP's Nicole Haase – and may prove to be a steal in the 11th round for Boston with a higher offensive ceiling than she showed in college. And it's not like she didn't score goals for Wisconsin; in her senior season, she had 12 goals and 25 assists in 41 games.

Round 12: Shiann Darkangelo (F), 1993, PHF (70th overall) – 29-year-old Darkangelo's pro career has already taken her to many different teams, but she's never before played in Boston. She joined the Connecticut Whale in the NWHL/PHF's inaugural season after an NCAA career split evenly between Syracuse and Quinnipiac. She then joined the Buffalo Beauts, followed by two years in the CWHL with the Kunlun Red Star in China and then the Toronto Furies. After one year as part of the PWHPA, she returned to the NWHL/PHF, serving as captain of the Toronto Six during the team's entire tenure. In addition to being an Isobel Cup champion with both the Six and the Beauts, she has two gold medals with team USA, one each at the U18 and senior levels. Darkangelo brings a ton of experience and strong two-way ability to Boston.

Round 13: Emma Buckles (LD), 1999, PWHPA (75th overall) – Buckles, a Toronto native, spent five years at Harvard and was named team captain during the season the program took off due to COVID-19. Buckles is another stay-at-home defender, though she did amass 7 goals and 10 assists in 32 games during her senior NCAA season, both career highs. She then joined the PWHPA and played for Team Sonnet in 2022-23.

Round 14: Tatum Skaggs (F), 1998, PWHPA (82nd overall) – Skaggs returned to North America last year to join the PWHPA's Team Scotiabank after spending the 2021-22 season abroad playing in both the European Women's Hockey League and the SDHL with Djurgårdens. The 24-year-old Wisconsin native previously played her entire college career at Ohio State where she studied special education. Skaggs had 3 goals and 3 assists in 18 games with Team Scotiabank last season; her best NCAA season was her junior year with the Buckeyes where she had 42 points (17G, 25A) in 38 games.

Round 15: Jess Healey (LD), 1996, PHF (87th overall) – Danielle Marmer concluded her draft class by picking another defensive defender in 26-year-old Jess Healey, this time from the Buffalo Beauts by way of HV71 in the SDHL and the University of Minnesota Duluth. While Healey was able to adapt her game to the SDHL and found more of an offensive touch in Jönköping, she usually had a single-digit points total at the end of each NCAA campaign (the exception being her senior season, when she had 5 goals and 9 assists). Healey had 1 goal and 6 assists with the Beauts last season; she also has a U18 gold medal with Team Canada back in 2014.

By position, so far...

  • Forwards
    Hilary Knight
    Alina Müller
    Jamie Lee Rattray
    Loren Gabel
    Hannah Brandt
    Theresa Schafzahl
    Taylor Girard
    Sophie Shirley
    Shiann Darkangelo
    Tatum Skaggs
  • Right-handed defense
    Megan Keller
    Sophie Jaques
  • Left-handed defense
    Jessica DiGirolamo
    Emily Brown
    Emma Buckles
    Jess Healey
  • Goalies
    Aerin Frankel
    Emma Söderberg

Interestingly, after locking up two of the most gifted offensive defenders in the game in Keller and Jaques, general manager Danielle Marmer really zeroed in on defensive blueliners who will think about point coverage first and scoring second. In a league that's dripping with offense, having players like Brown or Healey on the blueline will allow the skaters around them to take some more risks without getting burned on turnovers.

That said, none of Marmer's selected forwards have questionable defensive skill – it's hard to think of a forward trio from this draft class who you wouldn't have confidence in lining up for a defensive zone faceoff, for example. But each of them also has goal-scoring ability, either from the circles or in the crease. This is a team that seems constructed to be a pain in the ass at both ends of the ice and in the middle of the ice, too.

On top of that, Frankel and Söderberg by their powers combined could easily create the best goaltending stat line in the PWHL. You really can't go wrong starting either of them in any situation.

In her post-draft media availability, Marmer mentioned working with Quinnipiac's director of hockey ops, Paul Nemetz-Carlson, as a draft specialist, alongside head coach Courtney Kessel, in order to come up with Boston's selections. She described the way the real draft went, after many mock drafts in preparation for the event, as "as close to perfect as we wanted it to be." Their focus on pure defense and opportunistic offense make this team feel like a bit of a wild card – you'll see different strengths come out depending on their opponent, and each version of them should be difficult to play against.

(Photo: PWHL/Lori Bolliger/Heather Pollock)