Ahead of training camp on November 15, Minnesota has only signed seven players — five forwards, one defender, and one goalie. With 22 unsigned players and 16 spots left, the ball (or puck) is now in GM Natalie Darwitz's court (or zone) to determine how to build the best roster possible based on who shines in training camp.
Expected Camp Roster
|PLAYER NAME||POS||STATUS||2022-23 TEAM||NOTE|
|Coyne Schofield, Kendall||F||SIGNED||PWHPA - Team adidas||Initial signing 80k+|
|Pannek, Kelly||F||SIGNED||PWHPA - Team Scotiabank||Initial signing 80k+|
|Stecklein, Lee||D||SIGNED||PWHPA - Team Harvey's||Initial signing 80k+|
|Heise, Taylor||F||SIGNED||NCAA - Minnesota||Drafted 1-1, 80k+|
|Hensley, Nicole||G||SIGNED||PWHPA - Team Sonnet||Drafted 2-12, 80k+|
|Zumwinkle, Grace||F||SIGNED||NCAA - Minnesota||Drafted 3-13, 80k+|
|Tapani, Susanna||F||SIGNED||Did not play||Drafted 5-25|
|Boreen, Abigail||F||Undrafted||NCAA - Minnesota|
|Brodt, Sydney||F||Draft pick||PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps||Drafted 15-85|
|Bryant, Brooke||F||Undrafted||NCAA - Minnesota State|
|Butorac, Claire||F||Undrafted||NCAA - Minnesota State|
|Cava, Michela||F||Draft pick||PHF - Toronto Six||Drafted 12-72|
|DeGeorge, Clair||F||Draft pick||PWHPA - Team Harvey's||Drafted 6-36|
|Fleming, Brittyn||F||Undrafted||PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps|
|Křížová, Denisa||F||Draft pick||PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps||Drafted 8-48|
|Kunin, Sophia||F||Draft pick||PWHPA - Team Harvey's||Drafted 10-60|
|Schepers, Liz||F||Draft pick||PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps||Drafted 13-73|
|Skaja, Catie||F||Undrafted||NCAA - Minnesota|
|Buchbinder, Natalie||D||Draft pick||NCAA - Wisconsin||Drafted 7-37|
|Cook, Abby||D||Undrafted||SWHL A - Lugano|
|Flaherty, Maggie||D||Draft pick||NCAA - Minnesota Duluth||Drafted 4-24|
|Greco, Emma||D||Undrafted||PHF - Toronto Six|
|Kremer, Dominique||D||Undrafted||PHF - Buffalo Beauts|
|Marshall, Patti||D||Undrafted||PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps|
|Morin, Sidney||D||Draft pick||PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps||Drafted 9-49|
|Nightengale, Nikki||D||Undrafted||PWHPA - Team Sonnet|
|Bench, Lauren||G||Undrafted||SDHL - MoDo|
|Leveille, Amanda||G||Draft pick||PHF - Minnesota Whitecaps||Drafted 11-61|
|Rooney, Maddie||G||Undrafted||PWHPA - Team adidas|
- Head coach: Charlie Burggraf, former DIII men's and women's head coach of 14 years with Bethel University
- Assistant coach: Jake Bobrowski, former DIII head coach with Hamline University and Elmira College, and former University of Minnesota assistant coach
- Assistant coach: Mira Jalosuo, former Team Finland defender and St. Cloud State assistant coach
- Skills coach: Johnny Seibel, who has previously worked as a camp instructor with the Minnesota Wild shooting coach Scott Bjugstad and now has his own hockey training company called Puck Dynasty
- Goalie coach: Brennan Poderzay, former goaltending coach with the University of Minnesota men's team and the Minnesota Whitecaps in the PHF
What They Have
The PWHL's first ever first overall draft pick, Taylor Heise, begins her pro career as a key centerpiece of Minnesota's roster. The 2022 Patty Kazmaier Award winner will be joined by electric power forward Grace Zumwinkle, who co-captained the Minnesota Golden Gophers with Heise last year.
If Heise and/or Zumwinkle are placed on a line with Kendall Coyne Schofield, they'll instantly be one of the deadliest lines in women's hockey. While the two young Minnesotans bring immense speed to the ice, Coyne Schofield (an honorary Minnesotan) would provide the same skill and veteran presence that she brought to the NWHL, PWHPA, and the US women's national team – not to mention speed of her own.
In addition to Coyne Schofield, forward Kelly Pannek and defender Lee Stecklein have been signed since the initial free agency period. Since then, Natalie Darwitz has also locked up a #1 goaltender in Hensley and creative Finnish forward Susanna Tapani.
What They Should Be Looking For
As of today, Minnesota has finalized the fewest signings of any team. Their core is very strong, but they seem to be opting against the draft-focused team-building philosophy of Ottawa and Boston in favor of a more open-ended and camp-focused one.
This will give the team more options and more time to test line and pairing combinations, but it remains to be seen if teams with fuller rosters will have a chemistry advantage going into the season.
This looks to be a highly competitive camp for blueliners, with only one – Lee Stecklein – under contract so far, and eight players at that position competing for what will likely be only six more roster spots. The backup goaltender position is also open, with three strong options coming to camp. Finally, there are eleven unsigned forwards entering Minnesota's camp, and only seven or eight of them will emerge with contracts.
News & Notes
Minnesota's inaugural season jersey was also revealed on November 14:
And on November 13, TRIA Rink was announced as the PWHL Minnesota practice facility. It previously served as the home game rink of the PHF's Whitecaps and is also the practice facility for the NHL's Minnesota Wild.