Olympian Michelle Picard Signs With New York Riveters

The New York Riveters have locked down 2015 2nd round draft pick Michelle Picard to a one-year, $17,500 contract, the team announced Monday.

The 23-year-old defender has just finished her career at Harvard, where she wore the “C” during her final season.

“The success Michelle has had as a player speaks for itself,” said general manager Chad Wiseman. “Her attitude, commitment, and respect she has earned from every other coach and player she has worked with is what makes her a perfect fit for our organization.”

In her career at Harvard, she posted 53 points (8-45-53) through 128 games. Picard also has two gold medals with the U.S. National Team at the World Championship and a silver from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where she suited up in five matches

Her rights were acquired by the Riveters in a trade with the Connecticut Whale, who selected her sixth overall in the 2015 junior draft. In return the Riveters sent along the rights to Boston College forward Haley Skarupa, who was selected fifth overall in the 2015 draft. Skarupa has not yet signed a contract.

“I decided to join the NWHL so that I could continue playing the game I love,” Picard said in a statement. “Last year I was honored to be drafted, knowing that it provided a great opportunity for me to join the league this year. I’m excited to be in New York and join my teammates in a battle for the Isobel Cup!”

Picard is the third draft pick that the Riveters have signed this offseason, as well as the un-drafted Amanda Kessel. Those draft picks have been a part of the organization completely remaking their blue line. Of the five defensemen currently signed for the coming year, only captain Ashley Johnston and Kiira Dosdall are returning from last season’s squad. Picard, U of Wisconsin draft pick Courtney Burke and free agent signing Kaleigh Fratkin are all newcomers.

With smaller roster sizes in the NWHL’s sophomore season, it will be interesting to see what Wiseman does with the blue line from here. He’s moved from solely coaching the team, to be its architect as well. A defenseman like Gabie Figueroa defined the kind of hard-nosed game he made their calling card, but they appear to be going in a somewhat different direction. That style of play may have been more of a reactive decision, as the team had trouble getting the puck in the net all season long. Adding Kessel should help with that.