On April 28 the NWHL held the first two rounds of its 2020 Draft with each pick announced on Twitter by a special guest or celebrity. Rounds 3-5 will be held on April 29 at 7 pm and will be recapped by our Nathaniel Oliver.
After a draft day trade involving multiple picks it was Sammy Davis from Boston University who was chosen first overall by the Boston Pride. Davis had 52 points (25g-27a) in 37 games for the Terriers as a senior and joins a stacked roster next season while continuing her hockey career close to her hometown.
We Have a Trade to Announce…
Hours prior to the start of the 2020 NWHL Draft the league’s newest team Toronto, traded the first overall pick and their 5th round pick to Boston for the Pride’s first round pick (6th overall) plus Boston’s 1st and 2nd round picks in the 2021 NWHL Draft. Sure Boston gets stronger immediately, but Toronto will be able to pre-scout a plethora of young talent that they will be able to add to their roster after their first season.
By the Numbers
Prior to the 2020 NWHL Draft, there had been 85 players previously drafted and just like every other sport’s draft, it’s mainly a crapshoot. For the league’s teams, they may not necessarily take the best available player or the most talented player. Instead, they might select a talented player who has ties to their geographical area/region and would be willing or able to play in their city.
But there have been instances where no matter what the best player available was taken. We’re expecting that to change this year. Considering the current climate in women’s hockey, NWHL GM’s will likely make sure that whomever they select will at least have an interest in joining their franchise.
Of the previous four No. 1 picks, only two signed/played with the team that drafted them, and three of those four players have played in the NWHL. In 2015 Alex Carpenter was the first ever draft pick in the league by the New York Riveters. Her rights were eventually traded a year later to the Boston Pride for the rights to Miye D’Oench. Carpenter would play only one season for the Pride and D’Oench played three seasons, and won an Isobel Cup, with the Rivs.
In 2016 Kelsey Koelzer was the first overall pick by the Metropolitan Riveters, in 2017 Katie Burt was the first overall pick by the Pride, and in 2018 Annie Pankowski was the first overall pick by the Riveters. Koelzer played two seasons for the Rivs, Burt played one season for Boston, and Pankowski never played in an NWHL game.
It is most definitely a hit or miss process with 39 of the 85 players drafted have played in at least one NWHL game over the past four seasons. Boston has had the most success, with seven of the 20 players they have drafted suiting up for the Pride – and six of them are on their current roster.
Currently, a total of 14 players drafted by an NWHL team have their names etched on the Isobel Cup, with more to join that list once the 2020 Isobel Cup is handed out. Five of the 25 players selected in the 2018 NWHL Draft played in the league this past season. Again, expect that number to increase this upcoming season.
The Picks Are In
The Boston Pride selected Sammy Davis (Boston University forward) first overall and Tereza Vanisova (Maine forward) 12th overall. Vanisova leaves the University of Maine as the school’s leader in total points (129) and assists (66) and is second all-time in goals (63).
Davis was the odds-on favorite to be selected first overall once Boston completed the trade and at BU she was a bonafide scorer. During her collegiate career, Davis scored 142 points over 146 games, was team captain, and the MVP of the 2019 Beanpot Tournament.
“I’m really excited to be selected first overall by the Pride, and to be able to play in front of my favorite city next season,” said Davis.
The Connecticut Whale drafted Kayla Friesen (Clarkson forward) second overall & Victoria Howran (New Hampshire defender) sixth overall. Howran was UNH’s captain this past season and 22 of her 55 career points came as a senior.
Friesen finished fourth on Clarkson with 30 points in 28 games as a senior, earning top line minutes following a host of injuries on the team. The previous three seasons Friesen played for St. Cloud State and she had 50 points over 103 games.
The Buffalo Beauts selected Carly Jackson (Maine goaltender) third overall & Codie Cross (Northeastern defender) ninth overall. Cross is known as a fierce defender and added 62 points from the blueline over 134 career games.
Jackson was the only goaltender selected over the first two rounds but is definitely worthy of the third overall selection. This past season she led all goalies with a .934 save percentage and her GAA (goals-against average) was a ridonkulous 1.90!
The Metropolitan Riveters drafted Saroya Tinker (Yale defender) fourth overall & Delaney Belinskas (Boston College forward) tenth overall. Belinskas put up 93 points during her time at BC and as a senior had 20 goals, meaning the Rivs may have found themselves a sniper.
Tinker adds depth and snarl to the Riveters blueline after finishing a career at Yale that saw her skate in 122 games (32 points). Her coach at Yale believes Tinker’s style of play — smooth-skating, smart, great first pass — will allow her to fit in well in the NWHL.
The Minnesota Whitecaps found some help in-state, selecting Alex Woken (Minnesota forward) fifth overall & Patti Marshall (Minnesota defender) 11th overall. Marshall was one of the Gophers team captains this past season and had 61 points from the backend over her 150 career games.
Woken will possibly join her college teammate – along with nine current Gophers on the Whitecaps – on her hometown team. She finished this past season with a career-high 16 goals and 32 points and adds depth to an already potent lineup.
The yet-to-be-named Toronto expansion team made their first ever selections in the NWHL Draft, taking Jaycee Gebhard (Robert Morris forward) sixth overall & Amy Curlew (Cornell forward) eighth overall. As a senior Curlew chipped in 22 points over 32 games while playing for the no. 1 ranked team.
Gebhard, the first-ever draftee for Toronto, was a scoring star at RMU and finished her senior season with 63 points (20g-43a) in just 36 games. She adds an immediate scoring punch to the team and it wouldn’t be a shock to see her form a dynamic duo with Shiann Darkangelo.
Rounds 3-5 will be announced on Twitter through the NWHL account beginning at 7:00 ET.
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.