Olympian Molly Engstrom Signs With Whale

Former Olympian Molly Engstrom has inked a one-year pact with the Connecticut Whale for the upcoming NWHL season, the team announced Saturday. The contract carries a value of $18,000, which is a $6,000 raise from last season.

“I am so happy to be signing another NWHL contract with the Whale,” said Engstrom. “This is a special moment in time for women’s hockey and I am so grateful to be a part of it.”

The former University of Wisconsin Badger and CWHLer put up three goals and five points through 15 games last season. The 33-year-old defenseman was an asset early in the year when the Whale were running with the Pride on an impressive undefeated run.

The Whale struggled to close out the season and lost their opening round playoff series against the Buffalo Beauts in three games.

“Molly is an experienced veteran who will be a leader on and off the ice,” said head coach Heather Linstad. “She will inspire the younger players to work hard at every practice and bring intensity to every shift. In addition, she will be a steady blue liner who will make smart decisions in the defensive zone and make things happen offensively from the blue line.”

Bringing back Engstrom gives the team a veteran leader, but also might leave the blue line too similar to last year, when they struggled late in the year. As other teams began to gel, the Whale fell apart. Practice issues with some leaders being unable to consistently be at practice may have contributed to that.

Engstrom’s international accolades include a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics and a silver at the 2010 Olympics, as well as six World Championship appearances and two Four Nations Cup tournaments.

The signing comes one day before the NWHL’s free agency deadline of July 31.