With the 2014 NHL Draft quickly approaching, draft and prospect talk is heating up. There is a ton of talent in NCAA women’s hockey that fans and experts would also be analyzing, if only those players were eligible. Here is a hypothetical look at how the first 30 picks would go if NHL teams were choosing from a pool of only NCAA women’s players.
#1, Florida Panthers: Michelle Karvinen, Senior, Forward, North Dakota
2013-14 stats: 24 GP, 14 goals, 9 assists, 23 points
Named Best Forward at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Karvinen is one of the best players in the world and clearly the most elite talent on the board.
#2, Buffalo Sabres: Hannah Brandt, Sophomore, Forward, Minnesota
2013-14 stats: 41 GP, 23 goals, 42 assists, 65 points
The Sabres decide to go with Brandt, a quintessential power forward who showed she’s capable of driving an offense as only a sophomore.
#3, Edmonton Oilers: Jamie Lee Rattray, Senior, Forward, Clarkson
2013-14 stats: 41 GP, 29 goals, 37 assists, 66 points
The Oilers are more than happy to take the 2014 Patty Kazmaier Award winner, whose blend of offensive abilities and hard-nosed effort every shift makes her a handful for opposing defenses.
#4, Calgary Flames: Erin Ambrose, Sophomore, Defense, Clarkson
2013-14 stats: 37 GP, 14 goals, 36 assists, 50 points
With the three best forwards off the board and a bunch of up-front talent already in the system, the Flames go with Ambrose, who led all defensemen in scoring and whose possession tools give her a very high ceiling.
#5, New York Islanders: Jillian Saulnier, Junior, Forward, Cornell
2013-14 stats: 34 GP, 28 goals, 28 assists, 56 points
Saulnier plays a grinding style while possessing high-end skill. Her ability to finish has come a long way this past year, making her an excellent option here for the Islanders.
#6, Vancouver Canucks: Alex Rigsby, Senior, Goaltender, Wisconsin
2013-14 stats: 17-7-2, 1.32 GAA, .945 save %, 7 shutouts
Vancouver’s pool of goaltending prospects is extremely shallow, and Wisconsin’s all-time leader in wins and saves will fix that. She’s a truly dominant netminder who can shift momentum and take over a game.
#7, Carolina Hurricanes: Phoebe Staenz, Freshman, Forward, Yale
2013-14 stats: 20 GP, 11 goals, 15 assists, 26 points
Staenz led all rookies in points per game and already has an Olympic bronze medal to her name; she projects to be a high-end offensive player.
#8, Toronto Maple Leafs: Sarah Lefort, Sophomore, Forward, Boston University
2013-14 stats: 38 GP, 32 goals, 23 assists, 55 points
Lefort was tasked with leading the charge for the Terriers and did well even in Marie-Philip Poulin’s absence, becoming the nation’s leader in goal-scoring.
#9, Winnipeg Jets: Rachel Ramsey, Junior, Defense, Minnesota
2013-14 stats: 41 GP, 12 goals, 31 assists, 43 points
The Jets desperately need a difference-maker at any position, and as a top-pairing defender who plays big in all three zones, Ramsey will be just that on the blue line.
#10, Anaheim Ducks: Susanna Tapani, Freshman, Forward, North Dakota
2013-14 stats: 24 GP, 8 goals, 12 assists, 20 points
The Finnish Olympian was second among WCHA rookies in points per game, and her elite skill level warrants a spot in the top 10. She’s a deceptively fast skater and her ability to make a play isn’t outranked by many.
#11, Nashville Predators: Lara Stalder, Freshman, Defense, Minnesota Duluth
2013-14 stats: 28 GP, 4 goals, 18 assists, 22 points
Stalder played big minutes for both Minnesota Duluth and the Swiss Olympic team, and her ability to push the pace offensively will be an upgrade to the Predators’ pool of defensive talent.
#12, Phoenix Coyotes: Rachael Bona, Junior, Forward, Minnesota
2013-14 stats: 41 GP, 23 goals, 38 assists, 61 points
Bona is a speedy, tenacious forward who has always been a really good support player in a top-six. She showed a new level of craftiness and top-line upside this year.
#13, Washington Capitals: Alyssa Gagliardi, Senior, Defense, Cornell
2013-14 stats: 34 GP, 8 goals, 23 assists, 31 points
The Capitals elect to go with Gagliardi, who lacks the more dynamic abilities of some of the other defensive options still on the board but whose defensive-mindedness is something their system is lacking.
#14, Dallas Stars: Milica McMillen, Sophomore, Defense, Minnesota
2013-14 stats: 39 GP, 11 goals, 28 assists, 39 points
McMillen’s ability to help run a fast-paced attack from the back-end gives her plenty of upside that the Stars can build around.
#15, Detroit Red Wings: Gracen Hirschy, Freshman, Defense, North Dakota
2013-14 stats: 36 GP, 9 goals, 13 assists, 22 points
Hirschy moves the puck very well and isn’t afraid to jump in on the play. The Wings will give her plenty of time to develop and hit her potential as a game-breaking D.
#16, Columbus Blue Jackets: Kelly Babstock, Senior, Forward, Quinnipiac
2013-14 stats: 37 GP, 19 goals, 30 assists, 49 points
Babstock’s production has a tendency to tail off at times, but she’s also capable of being the best player on the ice on any given night. The pure amount of talent that she possesses is something the Blue Jackets can’t pass up.
#17, Philadelphia Flyers: Kelly Terry, Senior, Forward, Minnesota
2013-14 stats: 41 GP, 22 goals, 32 assists, 54 points
Terry’s an extremely fast, effective player who’s very good at creating pressure. Though she might not be a true star herself, her versatility will help her thrive anywhere in the top-nine.
#18, Minnesota Wild: Dani Cameranesi, Freshman, Forward, Minnesota
2013-14 stats: 41 GP, 19 goals, 17 assists, 36 points
The Wild select Minnesota’s own Cameranesi, who was the WCHA Rookie of the Year. It didn’t take too long for her to produce in the NCAA and she should be a solid top-six pick-up.
#19, Tampa Bay Lightning: Halli Krzyzaniak, Freshman, Defense, North Dakota
2013-14 stats: 36 GP, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points
Krzyzaniak is an all-situations player with an off-the-charts hockey IQ. She’s already a top-pairing defenseman at UND, and she’ll develop into a cornerstone defender for the Lightning.
#20, San Jose Sharks: Brittany Ammerman, Junior, Forward, Wisconsin
2013-14 stats: 38 GP, 23 goals, 21 assists, 44 points
The Wisconsin forward had a good bounce-back year after suffering a concussion last season, taking control of the Badgers’ offense and becoming a top-20 scorer nationally.
#21, St. Louis Blues: Rebecca Vint, Junior, Forward, Robert Morris
2013-14 stats: 34 GP, 24 goals, 17 assists, 41 points
Vint has been a constant force up front for the Colonials for three years now, even with little support. She’s also a reliable player in all three zones.
#22, Pittsburgh Penguins: Haley Skarupa, Sophomore, Forward, Boston College
2013-14 stats: 33 GP, 25 goals, 16 assists, 41 points
Skarupa struggled a bit this year as the main target for opponents, but she still projects as a top-line player. She has all the abilities of a star forward but her decision-making still needs more time to develop.
#23, Colorado Avalanche: Christine Bestland, Senior, Forward, Mercyhurst
2013-14 stats: 37 GP, 22 goals, 32 assists, 54 points
The Avs settle on Bestland, who’s been a very productive player in her four years at Mercyhurst, and should find ways to score at the next level.
#24, Anaheim Ducks: Carly Mercer, Senior, Forward, Clarkson
2013-14 stats: 41 GP, 14 goals, 31 assists, 45 points
Mercer just captained the Golden Knights to a national championship; though she likely won’t be more than a secondary scorer, she’s had a lot of success in that role.
#25, Boston Bruins: Amanda Pelkey, Junior, Forward, Vermont
2013-14 stats: 36 GP, 21 goals, 19 assists, 40 points
Pelkey’s skating and puck skills have always been there, but she made big strides this year to become a legitimate first-line threat. She’s especially effective on the rush and has shown an ability to change a game with one shot.
#26, Montreal Canadiens: Shiann Darkangelo, Junior, Forward, Quinnipiac
2013-14 stats: 37 GP, 23 goals, 17 assists, 40 points
The Canadiens could use some size in their forwards, and Darkangelo offers that plus solid offensive instincts.
#27, Chicago Blackhawks: Erica Howe, Senior, Goaltender, Clarkson
2013-14 stats: 31-5-5, 1.10 GAA, .941 save percentage, 14 shutouts
Howe has always shouldered a lot of responsibility with Clarkson, playing big minutes and seeing tons of rubber. She is starting-goaltender material and would help shore up the Hawks’ goaltending prospects.
#28, Tampa Bay Lightning: Shannon MacAulay, Sophomore, Forward, Clarkson
2013-14 stats: 39 GP, 13 goals, 11 assists, 24 points
MacAulay was huge for the Golden Knights at the Frozen Four, and brings plenty of size plus great crease-crashing ability.
#29, Los Angeles Kings: Ashleigh Brykaliuk, Freshman, Forward, Minnesota Duluth
2013-14 stats: 36 GP, 11 goals, 12 assists, 23 points
The Kings land a potentially huge steal in Brykaliuk, who was counted on heavily by the Bulldogs as just a freshman and who has a ton of untapped potential.
#30, New Jersey Devils: Josefine Jakobsen, Junior, Forward, North Dakota
2013-14 stats: 36 GP, 14 goals, 19 assists, 33 points
Jakobsen is the best two-way forward in the draft, something that the Devils will love. She has good hockey sense and significant offensive upside to go along with that.
Gabriella is now in her third season of covering NCAA and international women’s hockey for The Hockey Writers. She is the founding editor of At Even Strength, a website dedicated to providing full-time coverage and analysis of women’s hockey. She is currently working towards a degree in Communication at the University of North Dakota, and is also interning with UND Athletic Media Relations. She can be reached on Twitter (@gabfun) or via e-mail (gfundaro10 [at] gmail [dot] com).