PWHL Training Camps Approach First Major Deadline and Waiver Period
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PWHL Training Camps Approach First Major Deadline and Waiver Period

PWHL Training Camps Approach First Major Deadline and Waiver Period by Zoë Hayden

The six PWHL teams will reduce their training camp rosters to 27 players by Wednesday, November 29, the first step towards finalizing a 23-player roster for the regular season. Rosters will be finalized on December 11.

After that roster reduction, those players released from training camp become part of the "first waiver window" period. Any team can sign these players to available roster spots between November 30 and December 2.

The "second waiver window" period comes between December 8 and December 10, just after a pre-season evaluation camp in Utica, New York. Teams will receive a list of released players, including undrafted players who have not been offered an SPA, on December 8, and will be able to sign any of these players during the second waiver window.

Getting everyone together for scrimmages ahead of the second waiver period will give teams a real chance to test team chemistry on the ice – and scope out their opponents. GMs should have a pretty clear idea from the evaluation camp if they want to make an offer to any players who end up on the second waiver list.

Per the PWHL, if a player receives but declines a contract offer from the club that invited them to camp, they are not eligible for the waiver periods. A drafted player who leaves camp or does not come to camp is also ineligible for the waiver periods. Additionally, drafted players who are unsigned after the conclusion of the waiver periods will have their rights retained by the club that drafted them, even if they were previously waived. Undrafted players become free agents after the conclusion of the waiver periods.

Ultimately general managers will construct a 23-player active roster, but they will also need to secure two reserve players. The question of reserves becomes more intriguing at this point, and it'll be interesting to see if there's any variation in how each GM uses the spots. Some teams may use their reserves for skaters and keep three goalies on the active roster, others may decide to use one of their reserve spots for a third goalie.

A pertinent question that remains unanswered is what the gameday roster rules will look like in the PWHL and how that might inform GMs' upcoming decisions. Most of us seem to be operating under the assumption that the gameday roster size will be identical to the NHL, with 18 skaters and 2 goalies permitted to dress out of a 23-player active roster, but that hasn't actually been confirmed. I have reached out to the PWHL to see if they can shed any light on this yet. Back in September, I outlined how the NHL, PHF, NCAA, and IIHF handle game rosters versus active rosters – each handled it differently in the 2022-23 season.

Here's a look at where each team stands as of the evening of November 28...

For a list of all current signings and camp invites, check out our 2023-24 PWHL roster tracker.

PWHL Ottawa

Ottawa has 17 players signed as of November 28, with six roster spots and two reserve spots available. They've signed 9 forwards, 6 defenders, and 2 goalies. They haven't announced any additional signings since camp began.

The undrafted forwards at Ottawa's camp everyone has their eye on are former PHF MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis and international stars Akane Shiga (Japan) and Fanni Garát-Gasparics (Hungary). Ottawa has also yet to sign 14th-round pick Caitrin Lonergan and 15th-round pick Audrey-Anne Veillette.

Allowing Grant-Mentis to go to the waiver period might break women's hockey Twitter, though that's probably not top of mind for GM Mike Hirshfeld. According to Simon Hopkins of The Ice Garden, 15th-round pick Audrey-Anne Veillette is at camp but has not been able to participate in on-ice sessions due to a knee injury. How Ottawa chooses to manage her rights with regards to the waiver restrictions will be interesting to see and will likely depend on her timeline to an on-ice return.

With 31 players at camp, at least 4 will be cut tomorrow.

PWHL Toronto

Toronto GM Gina Kingsbury has also not announced any signings since training camp began on November 15, except Hannah Miller, whose contract was announced on that day. The team has signed 9 forwards, 4 defenders, and 2 goalies – a total of 15 players, with eight roster spots and two reserve spots remaining to be filled.

There are several strong options outside of the draft class to fill out Toronto's blueline depth, including veteran Lauriane Rougeau and SDHL stalwart Jessica Kondas. Their 10th and 15th-round picks, Mellissa Channell and Oliva Knowles, are also still unsigned.

And there are several intriguing names at forward who have yet to ink a contract. Seventh-round pick Victoria Bach has only been intermittently available for on-ice camp sessions, per Kyle Cushman, and it's unclear what exactly is impacting her status since she does not seem to be injured, though head coach Troy Ryan expects to see her in Utica. 14th-round pick Alexa Vasko remains unsigned as well.

Toronto has 30 players at camp, so expect 3 players to be on the waiver list tomorrow.

PWHL Montreal

Montreal's Danièle Sauvageau has been somewhat active during the first weeks of training camp, signing forward Ann-Sophie Bettez, goaltender Elaine Chuli, and defenders Kati Tabin, Dominika Lásková, and Mariah Keopple. They have 13 players under contract (7 forwards, 4 defenders, and 2 goaltenders), with 10 roster spots remaining to fill plus two reserves. A lot has been solidified since the beginning of camp, but there are still some question marks in Montreal's roster.

Unlike the other Canadian PWHL teams, Montreal has not signed its mandatory six players to 3-year contracts valued at $80k or more – they have signed just five. Third-round pick Maureen Murphy is still unsigned and seems the obvious choice for that deal, but if she's unwilling to commit for 3 years, it could be offered to someone else. Montreal's list of undrafted camp invites is just as impressive as its draft class, and with 31 players at camp they have some tough choices to make. At least 4 players on their training camp roster will be cut tomorrow and hit the waiver list.

PWHL New York

The lone announced signing by GM Pascal Daoust since training camp opened has been defender Jaime Bourbonnais. New York has signed 16 total players, so they have seven remaining roster spots to fill, plus two reserves. The breakdown by position of who is signed so far comes to 5 defenders, 1 goalie, and 10 forwards.

Like Montreal, New York still needs to add one 3-year, $80k+ contract per the PWHL CBA. Most likely they'll offer it to their presumptive starting goaltender, which could be sixth-round pick Corinne Schroeder. Third-round pick Jessie Eldridge only agreed to 2 years. Their seventh-round draft pick, Jill Saulnier, also remains unsigned.

New York has the largest camp roster in the PWHL with 33 players. They'll be cutting at least 6 players tomorrow to put on the waiver list.

PWHL Minnesota

Minnesota GM Natalie Darwitz has signed two defenders since the start of training camp in Maggie Flaherty and Natalie Buchbinder, their fourth and seventh-round picks, respectively. They have eight unsigned draft picks remaining on the camp roster. With just 5 forwards, 3 defenders, and 1 goalie signed, the State of Hockey has just nine players under contract and needs to make 14 signings before December 11. They'll be adding at least seven forwards, four defenders, and an additional goaltender to serve as backup for Nicole Hensley, plus their two reserve spots.

Minnesota also has a very small camp. With 29 players at camp, they'll only be sending 2 players tomorrow to the waiver list.

PWHL Boston

Danielle Marmer was the busiest GM in the PWHL before camp. She had 19 players signed before training camp and still has just those 19 players, including each and every one of the 14 draft picks on the camp roster, plus undrafted defender Kaleigh Fratkin and the initial three free agent contracts. She only has four more roster spots available, plus two reserves, with 7 defenders, 2 goaltenders, and 10 forwards already locked up. It wouldn't be surprising to me if we don't see any other contracts announced for Boston until Utica.

With just 28 players at camp, Boston only needs to send one player to the waiver list tomorrow.

Key Dates

  • November 29 – Teams cut their training camp roster down to no more than 27 players.
  • November 30 - December 2 – First Waiver Window; players released during the initial roster cuts can be signed by any team
  • December 3 - December 7 – Pre-season evaluation camp and scrimmages in Utica, New York
  • December 8 - December 10 – Second Waiver Window; any undrafted player who has not been offered an SPA will appear on this list
  • December 11 – 23-player roster finalized