Each of six PWHL teams will finalize its 23-player roster this week, with the regular season set to begin on January 1.
After a series of pre-season scrimmages in Utica, New York last week, the PWHL opened a second waiver window between December 8 and December 11. The league has not yet publicly released a list of players who were released for this waiver window. This list will include unsigned players out of training camp, but may also include players who signed 1-year contracts which teams have decided to terminate during the preseason. During this period, teams can contact any released player with the intention of offering them a contract. Teams will then submit their final rosters to the league and they will be revealed on December 12.
To look at current signings and terms, check out our roster tracker. Any one-year deal is subject to change.
Originally, the PWHL had stated there would be two roster reserve spots, but the roster reserve system could see some changes announced in the coming days. Specifically, the number of available reserve spots may be expanded. This may be due to injuries sustained during training camp and in scrimmages, plus in the USA-Canada Rivalry Series, which could leave signed players unavailable for the start of the season.
Let's take a look at each team and how they've progressed since the first waiver window began.
GM Michael Hirshfeld's team hasn't announced any signings since November 9. Their 14th and 15th round picks (Caitrin Lonergan and Audrey-Anne Veillette, respectively) were released from the roster on November 29. With 17 players (9 forwards, 6 defenders, and 2 goalies) signed, Ottawa has six remaining active roster spots will likely add at least 3 forwards and a defender, and possibly a third goaltender. Free agents Akane Shiga, Fanni Garát-Gasparics, and Mikyla Grant-Mentis are likely to be on Ottawa's final roster, though their contracts have not yet been announced.
The day of the first round of roster cuts, Toronto announced the signing of forward Alexa Vasko, but they have been quiet since then. They've signed 16 players (10 forwards, 4 defenders, and 2 goalies) and will likely add at least 3 forwards and 3 defenders, and possibly a third goaltender. Three of GM Gina Kingsbury's unsigned draft picks remained on their camp roster after the first round of cuts – defenders Mellissa Channell (10-59) and Olivia Knowles (15-86), and forward Victoria Bach (7-38).
Per the Toronto Sun, Bach will not be on the active roster because she is completing her teaching certification and will be unavailable full-time until after February 1. She could appear on the reserve roster instead. Channell and Knowles could be eligible for waiver pickups if released.
Montreal completed its six mandatory three-year, $80k+ contracts by announcing the signing of forward Maureen Murphy on November 29 and announced the signing of forwards Gabrielle David and Tereza Vanišová on December 11. With 16 players signed (10 forwards, 4 defenders, and 2 goaltenders), GM Danièle Sauvageau will be announcing 7 contracts to complete the active roster. Most likely, they'll be signing at least 3 additional forwards and 3 defenders, and possibly a third goalie.
Montreal has just two draft picks on their roster who remain unsigned: defenders Madison Bizal (8-43) and Maude Poulin-Labelle (10-55). If released, they could be waiver-eligible.
PWHL New York
On December 5, GM Pascal Daoust announced the first undrafted signing out of training camp for New York in forward Savannah Norcross. With a total of 17 players committed to contract (11 forwards, 5 defenders, and 1 goalie), they still need 6 players to complete their active roster, including one three-year, $80k+ contract. They will sign at least one more goaltender to the active roster, and at least 2 more forwards and 2 more defenders.
Natalie Darwitz has been the most active among PWHL GMs in singing contracts since the first round of roster cuts. Since November 29, Minnesota has added forwards Brooke Bryant, Sydney Brodt, Liz Schepers, Claire Butorac, Sophia Kunin, Brittyn Fleming, Denisa Křížová, Clair DeGeorge, and Michela Cava.
With 14 forwards signed, Minnesota is perhaps indicating that they will not carry a third goaltender on their active roster. In addition to 14 forwards, they've signed 3 defenders and 1 goaltender. They'll need to add five players to their active roster, including at least one additional goaltender and probably 4 defenders. Defender Sidney Morin (drafted 9-49) and goaltender Amanda Leveille (drafted 11-61) remain on the camp roster but have yet to be signed; if released, they could be picked up by another team on waivers.
Boston announced the signing of goaltender Cami Kronish today, making them the first team to lock up 3 goaltenders to their active roster. They have 10 forwards, 7 defenders, and 3 goaltenders signed for a total of 20 roster spots filled, so there will be 3 more players added to the active roster. Most likely, Danielle Marmer will add at least 3 more forwards, and there may be additional transactions as well.
Notes and open questions
- A reminder that it is still unclear what the game roster size will be in the PWHL, but they could follow an NHL-style game roster rule where 20 players (18 skaters and 2 goalies) will dress in any given game out of a 23-player roster. Teams will also have at least 2 reserve roster positions to fill. Teams may or may not choose to carry a third goalie on their active roster; if they don't carry one on the 23-player roster, they will probably hold one in reserve.
- Victoria Bach's situation with Toronto is most similar to that of Claire Thompson, who is attending medical school at NYU. It's possible that Thompson could see herself on a reserve roster as well in New York, or that she simply goes unsigned and remains a free agent. But Thompson was undrafted. Bach's status will really depend on the circumstances under which she is left off the roster. Since Toronto likely doesn't want to lose her rights, offering her a reserve spot (if they expect her to possibly play this season) or allowing her to depart camp without cutting her to make her waiver ineligible (if they don't) makes the most sense.
- As mentioned earlier, the PWHLPA CBA specifies that multi-year contracts signed for the inaugural season may not be terminated due to on-ice performance. Single-year contracts for the initial league year are not similarly guaranteed. So, anyone signed to a one-year deal could be terminated at any time for performance-related reasons, allowing their team to sign a replacement player. Section 7.5 of the CBA fully outlines these terms.
- The 23-player roster for each PWHL team is mandatory throughout the season. Teams are only allowed 24-hour windows to add a replacement player to their roster if a player's contract is terminated or if a rostered player is injured.
Scrimmage Stats and Standouts
Statistics courtesy of the PWHL with help from Giants in the Crease.
- Among unsigned skaters, Minnesota's Abigail Boreen had the most points in preseason scrimmages, with 2 goals and 1 assist. She also had 10 shots on goal. Since Minnesota has already signed 14 forwards, it's unclear whether the undrafted forward might take a reserve position. Boreen scored at a point-per-game pace in the preseason. So did Ottawa's Mikyla Grant-Mentis, who is also (officially) not yet signed.
- Among unsigned goaltenders, New York's Corinne Schroeder and Minnesota's Amanda Leveille were the strongest performers. Leveille played over 91 minutes, the second-most of any preseason goalie, stopping 40 of 44 shots. Schroeder played 65 minutes, stopping 39 of 40. New York's Lindsey Post also played 65 minutes and stopped 37 of 41 shots.
- New York's Jessie Eldridge led the pack among all skaters with 5 points in 3 games, tallying 3 goals and 2 assists.
- The most productive defenders belong to PWHL Toronto. The d-pair of Renata Fast and Jocelyne Larocque contributed 4 points each (3 goals and 5 assists) during scrimmages. Their 8 points are as many as the next four leading scorers at defense combined, including teammate Kali Flanagan. Toronto defenders had 11 points in the preseason overall.
- Tereza Vanišová (Montreal), Hilary Knight (Boston), and Sarah Nurse (Toronto) led with 13 shots on goal during the preseason. Knight tallied hers in just two games.
Expect PWHL transactions and signings to continue to be announced up until the rosters are revealed tomorrow.