From May 1-31 NWHL teams can re-sign players from their 2016-17 roster and their draft picks during the restricted free agency period, and beginning on June 1 any unsigned players left will be free to sign with any team. The third season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Buffalo Beauts begin defense of their Isobel Cup championship, and with up to 12 players unable to participate in the league this season due to their selection for Team USA’s 2018 Olympic team, this will be the most competitive season yet.
My colleague Nathaniel Oliver will keep THW readers up to date on Buffalo and Boston’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Connecticut and New York.
On June 15 the Whale came to terms with Juana Baribeau on a new deal. Last season she joined the team midseason and appeared in eight games. The Quebec native played four seasons at Clarkson University where she tallied 117 points (62g-55a); She is currently the third-leading scorer in school history and had 12 career game-winning goals. Baribeau joins Kelly Babstock as the only other forward currently under contract.
“I’m really excited to get the chance to properly prepare for the season and to show what I am capable of as a player,” Baribeau said in a press release. “As the NWHL continues to rise in stature and popularity, I want to do my part to help the league and grow the game.”
— Connecticut Whale (@CTWhale_NWHL) June 15, 2017
On June 19 Connecticut added another defender when they signed Rachael Ade who just completed a career at Vermont and attended the NWHL Free Agent Camp in Boston. Originally from Davenport, Florida, Ade joins a blue line with the previously signed Anya Battaglino, Elena Orlando, Shannon Doyle and Cydney Roesler.
“This is a unique opportunity to be able to play the sport I love professionally, and to be a part of the NWHL while the league is growing and evolving,” Ade said in a press release. “It’s a little surreal that I get to be one of the athletes that show my younger sisters this new, possible avenue.”
Thanks @AlastairUVM for this really nice write up, very honored! https://t.co/J6UQExCfLM
— Rachael Ade (@RachSevenAde) June 20, 2017
On June 19 the Riveters signed rookie forward Lindsey Hylwa, who was captain at RPI this past season and played alongside current Rivs Alexa Gruschow and Lauren Wash. The first rookie on the New York roster this season originally hails from Cary, North Carolina and played in the girls’ programs of the Junior Carolina Hurricanes prior to attending RPI.
“The last few weeks have been amazing,” said an obviously excited Hylwa in a press release. She starts a new job next month in NYC as a product consultant for Standard and Poor’s. “Things couldn’t have worked out better.”
On June 22 Bray Ketchum signed with the Rivs, joining Ashley Johnston and Kiira Dosdall as the only three players left from the original team two seasons ago. Ketchum’s 21 career points rank her 18th on the NWHL’s all-time leaderboard. With ten points this upcoming season she would surpass Janine Weber as New York’s all-time leading scorer.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of this league and I am ready to bring the Isobel Cup to New Jersey. Our team proved a lot last season and I know we can do more this year,” Ketchum said in a press release. “I hope for all of our young fans out there that this league will continue to be successful. We have a strong following and the product is unmatched. It has been wonderful to be a part of this league from the beginning, and I can only hope that the future is even brighter.”
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.