Beginning June 1, NWHL teams can start signing players for the 2018-19 season. For players who have completed their college eligibility and want to continue their hockey careers, the free agency period provides them an opportunity to continue playing at the highest level of professional women’s hockey. The fourth season of the NWHL will begin in October as the Metropolitan Riveters defend their Isobel Cup championship, and with the addition of a fifth team – the Minnesota Whitecaps – as well as the inclusion of players who participated in the 2018 Winter Olympics, this very well could be the most competitive season yet.
My colleague Nathaniel Oliver will keep THW readers up-to-date on Boston and Buffalo’s signings throughout the summer, while I post updates on Connecticut and the Riveters. Together we will collaborate to keep readers informed of all of Minnesota’s signings.
On September 5 the Connecticut Whale made a big splash in free agency when they re-signed two players from last season’s team and also signed two highly decorated collegiate players. Juana Baribeau returns for her third season with the franchise, while Kaycie Anderson will be returning for her second season. Making their NWHL debuts this season will be the second and third leading scorers in Plattsburgh State history – Kayla Meneghin and Melissa Sheeran.
The 29-year-old Baribeau played in every game last season for Connecticut, registering her first NWHL goal and first assist this past season after putting up 62 goals and 118 points over 150 games at Clarkson University (2008-12). She was an alternate captain last season and as one of seven returning players, she will be looked to for leadership on a team with so many players making their pro debuts.
Anderson, 27, also had two points last season for the Whale (1g-1a) after a collegiate career at Norwich University (2011-2015) in which she was a point-per-game player: 118 points (48g-70a) in 118 games.
BREAKING: We are beyond excited to welcome Melissa Sheeran, Kayla Meneghin, and welcome back Juana "Juice" Baribeau to the Whale this season! #FinsUp if you're as excited as we are!
🔗: https://t.co/gSMJubwANT pic.twitter.com/0UoXmPS8Bg
— Connecticut Whale (@CTWhale_NWHL) September 5, 2018
Sheeran was a captain at Plattsburgh her senior season and was the 2018 Laura Hurd Award winner, given annually to the best player in Division III women’s hockey. She racked up an eye-opening 186 points (97g-89a) in 112 games during her four years playing college hockey.
Meneghin, 24, hails from Clifton, New Jersey and like Sheeran she was an offensive dynamo at Plattsburgh – finishing her collegiate career with 188 points (86g-102a) in 117 games. She’s ranked fifth all-time in Division III in both points and assists and alongside Sheeran won three National Championships. The two rookies bring the total of D-III players on the Whale roster to eight this upcoming season.
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.