2024 PWHL Draft Recap: Toronto
- 8 min read

2024 PWHL Draft Recap: Toronto

2024 PWHL Draft Recap: Toronto by Nicole Haase

It was a successful draft night for Toronto as they filled their obvious needs, picked up a couple of players that likely slipped lower than they should and bolstered an already very talented and successful roster from last season.

Draft Picks

Round #1: Julia Gosling (F), 2001, (#6 overall) – A big lesson learned with Natalie Spooner's injury was that Toronto did not have another similar player to step into that role and it cost them a chance at the Walter Cup. It turns out that no matter how talented the other forwards are, having a large presence in the slot who can win pucks in front of the net is crucial to being successful in this league. So Gina Kingsbury selected three tall, physical forwards to help rectify that oversight, starting with Gosling. She's a player that has just started coming into her own and I think has a high ceiling we haven't yet seen her reach. She'll benefit from the high level of talent around her in Toronto. On her first senior team in Utica, she scored twice, including in the gold medal game. Gosling is still learning to have confidence and trust herself to take the shot when she has it, but should grow by leaps and bounds in Toronto.

Round #2: Megan Carter (D), 2001, (#12 overall) – Continuing a focus on physicality and size on the defensive side, Carter is a solid, poised defender who doesn't get easily ruffled and has a great eye for when to join in on the offensive play. In her early years at Northeastern, the team was more dominant and she was a big part of their ability to possess the puck and control the pace of play and that allowed her to become even more creative offensively. But she also played more shutdown defense as roster turnover shifted the team's style. She is patient and effective at waiting for her moment to poke check or flat-out steal the puck. Carter is a two-way player that adds depth to the Toronto defense.

Round #3: Izzy Daniel (F), 2001, (#18 overall) – Getting the reigning Patty Kazmaier Award winner and Cornell grad in the third round was a bit of a steal for Toronto. As Gina Kingsbury said, she's very familiar with Big Red coach Doug Derraugh, who's been an assistant for the Canada senior women's team for awhile now. She trusts his judgement and he has said Daniel is one of the best players he's coached in Ithaca. Another player that started to peak later in her college career, there's a lot of room for her to become more comfortable and confident. She's also another player that I think will benefit from the higher level of talent that will surround her in Toronto. She's a great puck handler.

Round #4: Lauren Bernard (D), 2001, (#24 overall)– Like Carter, Bernard is a big, solid, patient defender who can be stay at home and shut down on her end as well as impactful on offense. A strong shot from the point, she needs to get more confident in letting it rip. That being said, Bernard has a good eye for feeding the puck, picking out lanes and reading her teammates. I like what she can mean for a quick transition game.

Round #5: Noemi Neubauerová (F), 1999, (#30 overall) – One of my favorite underrated college players of the last few years, Nemo, as she goes by, is a bit of a controlled wrecking ball – and that's a compliment. She's an intriguing mix of physicality that can just straight up move people out of her way and off the puck, but who still has the finesse and puck handling that are necessary to succeed in the women's game. She's been a supporting player at both Colgate and with Czechia, but she has the talent to take on a bigger role. Of all the draft picks, she's the most aggressive and aware of how to use her body and is most ready to step into a Spooner-like role immediately. She is someone who I think will thrive in the more physical play of the PWHL.

Round #6: Anneke Linser (F), 2002 (#36 overall) – The UMD grad was most recently playing with Djurgårdens where she led the team with 31 points. In college, she was a gritty, tough player who used her size to claim space on the ice and win pucks along the boards. There's a clear type in the forwards Toronto selected and Linser is no exception. At 5'10" she's another big player who won't get pushed around easily. Coming from the WCHA and then SDHL, she's well-versed in playing physically and at UMD showed an ability to be adaptable but come up big when needed. We might look back and see this as one of the smartest picks in this draft.

Round #7: Raygan Kirk (G), 2001, (#42 overall) – In the NFL draft, the guy picked last is known as Mr. Irrelevant and honestly, the concept kind of works for Kirk, who went through a whole lot as a college student to get to this draft. The winning goalie for Ohio State in the 2024 NCAA Championship game, she was named tournament MVP. But she ended up a Buckeye after Robert Morris cut ice hockey and she was there was a third string goalie. But she put in the work and earned the starting role this last season over the netminder who'd won OSU's first title two seasons ago. She's also a friend and offseason training partner of Toronto's starter and fellow Manitoban, Kristin Campbell and the two have long commiserated over their unusual collegiate careers (Campbell was a player at North Dakota when that university cut women's hockey). Kirk has proven herself time and again and showed off a great work ethic already. She's a great pick up with this last selection and I think it was smart of Toronto to draft her rather than letting her hit the open market.


"I have a familiarity with the players – there's a lot of players I know and I look up to them. I know it's going to be a great team, great culture and everyone's going to push each other to get better so I'm excited to get started," – Julia Gosling

"I know how they play and the coaches know what to expect from me. I know I still have to prove myself and it'll be a challenge but they'll be super fun atmosphere and I'm just ready to grow as a player in Toronto," Gosling

"It's a dream come true. You watch NHL guys get drafted growing up. And the fact that there's a league for female hockey players to get drafted is surreal and I'm just really happy to be part of it," Megan Carter

"There are no words. Hugging my parents after hearing my name, knowing that I'm coming back home to the GTA was so special. I had some tears coming out of my eyes. Of course happy tears. I'm just really looking forward to being a part of the Toronto organization and sharing that experience with my family," Carter

"I'm really confident about my game. I think one of my best attributes is my hockey sense. I think I'm a really smart player. I consider myself more of a playmaking winger, I love to set up my teammates. But I think a lot of people maybe think that physicality or maybe I'm too small, but I'm just really confident in my own abilities in my mind game. I think it's gonna translate well in the pro leagues, and I hope to make an impact right away," Izzy Daniel

"I definitely take pride in the D-zone. I'm a 200-foot forward. I'm big and strong. I like to play physical. I like to get in the gritty areas and come up with the puck. I can block shots. I love to do it," - Anneke Linser

"I think the biggest thing is hard work and nothing is given to you. You have to earn everything that you get," – Lauren Bernard on what she learned playing at Ohio State

"When I was a freshman or sophomore if someone asked me if I would keep playing hockey after college the answer probably would have been no," – Bernard on what the creation of the PWHL means to her

"She's just been amazing role model to me. I'm so excited to be her teammate," – Raygan Kirk on Kristen Campbell

"Seven rounds is unique in a sense... you just get to bring together some of the pieces that you know you can build a strong puzzle with in year two and we're really happy with the choices that we were able to make," – Toronto GM Gina Kingsbury

"We got bigger today, for sure. I don't think that was our primary focus. I think there was a lot of elements out of these players – they were picked not just for size, but I think size helps in the league that is physical as it is," – Kingsbury

"To be quite honest with you I spent an hour to 90 minutes on calls with about 45 athletes, so I invested a lot of time and getting to know people. I can tell you that I actually really enjoyed talking to every single player. She might have been my favorite," – Kingsbury on Noemi Neubauerová

"I think we were a little surprised that she was still available. I think she brings you know a vision for the game that's pretty unique and there wasn't necessarily an abundance of that on on the board. She has an incredible spatial awareness," – Kingsbury on Daniel

Current Roster

(listed with the amount of years remaining on their current contract)

Kali Flanagan, D, 1 year
Renata Fast, D, 2 years
Jocelyne Larocque, D, 2 years
Allie Munroe, D, 2 years
Maggie Connors, F, 1 year
Jesse Compher, F, 1 year
Natalie Spooner, F, 1 year
Victoria Bach, F, 1 year
Hannah Miller, F, 1 year
Emma Woods, F, 1 year
Sarah Nurse, F, 2 years
Blayre Turnbull, F, 2 years
Emma Maltais, F, 2 years
Daryl Watts, F, 2 years
Izzy Daniel, F, 2 years
Kristen Campbell, G, 2 years

Draft Picks by Position

Forward: 4
Defense: 2
Goaltender: 1


On the surface, it looked like this was a pretty perfect team as the season wound down, but Spooner's injury was a wake up call that appearances can be deceiving. In a league as strong as this one, the difference is in the details. It's how the coaches bring about those talents that will prove whether or not this was a good draft. That might be obvious, but as more and more top-tier players enter the league, the difficulty becomes managing all those players and their talents and expectations. It's the problems of the national teams magnified across a whole season where elite talent is suddenly on the third or fourth line.

Gina Kingsbury said drafting for size wasn't her only focus, but it's hard to overlook that this year's class is much more in the likeness of Natalie Spooner than not. That being said, she's right that these players bring more than just their body type. This is a solid group of draftees that bolsters the roster at every position and the roster was already very talented and star-studded. I have every trust in both Troy Ryan and Kingsbury, but at the moment I'm not fully wrapping my head around how the pieces they had and these new draftees fit together and I don't think that's going to be a rare problem in this league.

Toronto is lucky in that they had a very good thing going and they had some of their weaknesses exposed. It was pretty clear going into the offseason what needed to change and it seems as though this draft addressed their needs. There was, I think, some drop off between the first and second defensive pairing, so Carter and Bernard really bump up the depth on the blue line while helping to stretch the game to the top of the zone on offense. Kirk was a great last pick of the draft if only because of her connection to Campbell, but she's also just shown a work ethic and perseverance that can't be taught.

A through line of these picks, I think, is their playmaking ability. Each of these players is talented enough to have been the star on their squads, but for most of them, it was more of a team approach where they sometimes stepped up, but more often were in a supporting, puck-dishing role. Every one of the forwards can wind their way through traffic and unleash a great shot when needed, but I think the hidden possibilities of this class come from their skills reading the ice, anticipating their teammates and knowing when to pass the puck and when to take it themselves.

Finding a way to use all the very talented forwards on this roster in ways that maximize their abilities is a good problem to have, but it is one Troy Ryan is going to have to figure out.

(Photo: Heather Pollock/PWHL)