The Connecticut Whale have finalized their roster for the 2016-17 season with the signings of Haley Skarupa, Dana Trivigno and Ivana Bilic on Sunday, the final day of NWHL free agency.
The pair of Boston College graduates — Skarupa and Trivigno — have signed one-year deals carrying a value of $20,000. Bilic comes with a cap hit of $14,000.
“Skarupa is a strong skater with excellent hands and a knack for scoring, and Trivigno is a true hockey player with great knowledge and vision for the game,” said head coach Heather Linstad. “Both players are a fantastic addition to our forward group, and will be relied upon to make things happen on the ice.”
The Whale acquired the rights for both Skarupa and Trivigno via trade earlier in the summer. Skarupa, who had an incredible collegiate career, was drafted fifth overall by the New York Riveters in the 2015 draft. She was acquired by giving the Riveters the rights to 13th overall draft pick Michelle Picard, who eventually signed with New York.
— Connecticut Whale (@CTWhale_NWHL) July 31, 2016
While at Boston College, a team that nearly went undefeated this season until they lost a heartbreaker to the University of Minnesota in the national championship, Skarupa scored 115 goals and 129 assists in 144 games.
“I am so excited to be a part of the NWHL and cannot wait to represent the Connecticut Whale,” said Skarupa in a statement. “Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way. Fins up!”
Meanwhile, Trivigno scored 57 goals and 81 assists through 148 career collegiate games.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the NWHL and playing for the Connecticut Whale,” said Trivigno in a statement. “Thank you to everyone involved in the process. Go Whale!”
Both have spent time playing for the U.S. National Team, including playing in the 2015 and 2016 World Championships where the U.S. won back-to-back gold medals.
We look forward to signing our contracts this week and helping advance the league to new heights in our second season
— Haley Skarupa (@skrooops28) August 1, 2016
All National Team players have had their deals negotiated collectively, and are not technically signed to their contract yet. Terms have been reached with all national team players who are going to join the league, but they have not actually put ink to paper. The NWHL announced the deals Sunday to meet their self-imposed July 31 free agency deadline.
Bilic, a Canadian, was the 2016 WCHA Defensive Player of the Year for the Bemidji State, where she served as an alternate captain. “Ivana is a solid defenseman who can block a lot of shots,” said Whale general manager Lisa Giovanelli. “She’s a great addition to our defensive core and will make our blue line even stronger.”
While at Bemidji, Bilic scored 13 goals and 61 points in 128 games and posted a collective plus-20 rating in her final two seasons. She recently spent time at the 2015-16 Hockey Canada Selection Camp.
She joins the team as a replacement for Shannon Doyle, who had signed a contract, but will now only be a practice player as she “chooses to pursue other career opportunities,” according to a league release.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.