Beginning May 15, NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2018-19 roster and their draft picks. Additionally, for those players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, NWHL Free Agency provides the best opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fifth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Minnesota Whitecaps look to defend their Isobel Cup championship.
My colleague Dan Rice will keep THW readers up-to-date on Metropolitan and Connecticut’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Buffalo and Boston. Together we will be keeping readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.
Original NWHLer Kaleigh Fratkin has become the first player to sign with a team for the league’s fifth season. Word was released on May 20, 2019 that the defender had signed an $11,000 contract to play for the Boston Pride for 2019-20. This will mark Fratkin’s third straight season with Boston after a season apiece with the Connecticut Whale and Metropolitan Riveters.
“It means everything to me to be going on my third season with the Pride,” Fratkin said in the press release announcement, “and I’m certainly happy to have the opportunity to stay in Boston to play the sport I love. I’ve had experiences playing on three awesome teams in the NWHL, and being a Pride member is at the very top of the list.”
Fratkin has played 27 games for Boston across the past two seasons, scoring two goals, 12 assists and 14 points in the process.
Fratkin’s Veteran Leadership and Physicality
Factoring in her time spent with the Whale and the Riveters, Fratkin has played a career total of 63 NWHL regular season games. She has brought decent offense as a blueliner throughout her professional career, and is often a go-to for Boston’s specialty teams. Fratkin’s career offensive totals add up to eight goals and 29 assists through her previous four seasons in the league.
A right-handed shot, she presents some nice options at the point, particularly when working the power play. Fratkin also possesses a rocket of a shot that she readily finds room to release.
“In my view, Kaleigh was one of the top defenders in the NWHL last season,” said the Pride’s head coach Paul Mara in the same release. “She plays the game with intensity, with great intelligence, and she has one of the hardest shots in the league. I always try to have her on the ice against the opponent’s top line, so I’m really happy she’s back with the Pride.”
Fratkin plays a very robust game, and she has the size to back it at 5-foot-8 and near the 150-pound mark. Furthermore, her physicality has a number to back it too, as her 106 career penalty minutes are the highest total in NWHL history. Fratkin never backs down from any opponent, and makes things uncomfortable for any skaters that try to get too close to her net.
Is the Fifth Time the Charm?
While she has played in the league since Day One, Fratkin has never won the Isobel Cup, nor has she even played in the Cup Final. Pride fans have to hope that this is the season that she will finally get her name etched upon the chalice.
Be that as it may, Fratkin is no stranger to victory either. Her name is inscribed upon the Clarkson Cup after she and the former Boston Blades became CWHL champions for the 2014-15 season. Fratkin also took home a silver medal for Team Canada at the 2009 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship.
Fratkin is going to utilize her poise and love for the game to hopefully bring Lady Isobel back to Boston.
“Every season my goal is always to play the best hockey I can each shift,” Fratkin went on to say. “I always put a lot of pressure on myself to produce every game, which hopefully leads to team success so we can win the Isobel Cup at year’s end. Sometimes during a season it’s so easy to get caught up in the negatives when something doesn’t go your way or the team isn’t winning games, but this season in particular I just want to focus on all the positives and have fun.”