There were two signings during the first week of NWHL unrestricted free agency. Last week there was only one signing during the restricted free agency period. This week, one signing saw a team bring back their captain for a second season, while another team dipped into the pool of players that didn’t play in the NWHL last season for some much-needed offense.
Also of note, this past week: former NWHL player and one of the most decorated players in Team USA history (11 medals, eight golds) Meghan Duggan joined the New Jersey Devils in a newly created role of Manager of Player Development. The 33-year-old Duggan will work closely with Senior Vice President/Assistant General Manager Dan MacKinnon. More on the hiring here: Duggan joins Devils.
On May 19 the Toronto Six announced that forward Shiann Darkangelo had re-signed for her second year with the club and fourth in the NWHL. Toronto’s captain was dominant in the face-off circles (60.8%) and registered three assists in six regular-season games. Darkangelo also had an assist in the Six’s lone playoff game.
“I’m very excited to be re-signing with the Six for Season 7 as we make a run for the Isobel Cup,” she said in the press release announcing her signing. “I am looking forward to playing on home ice and hopefully meeting more fans. Toronto is an awesome city and I am grateful to be part of this great organization.”
Before last season, Darkangelo was one of the first five players (Elaine Chuli, Taylor Woods, Emma Greco, and Kristen Barbara) to sign with the Six. She had the secondary assist on the franchise’s first-ever goal (Lindsay Eastwood). In 35 career regular-season games (Toronto, Buffalo, Connecticut), Darkangelo has put up 28 points (17g-11a) and has four points (all assists) in six playoff games. She won the 2017 Isobel Cup with the Beauts as an alternate captain.
“We are so excited to welcome our fearless leader in Shiann Darkangelo back to the Six for Season 7,” said Toronto Head Coach and President Digit Murphy. “Shi is a tremendous asset who leads with integrity, grit, and tenacity. She’s a veteran that knows her way around professional hockey, and with her wealth of experience, makes those around her better. The Toronto Six couldn’t be happier to have her back.”
Clarkson Captain Joins Beauts Battalion
Also on May 19, the Buffalo Beauts announced that they had signed forward Cassidy Vinkle, the league’s first true free agent signing this off-season. A two-time NCAA champion and former senior captain at Clarkson University, Vinkle played the past two years as a member of the PWHPA while also serving as an assistant coach for New England College’s women’s hockey team.
“We are elated to add Cassidy to our roster,” said Beauts General Manager Nate Oliver in the press release announcing the signing. “She comes from one of the finest collegiate programs in the history of women’s hockey and has spent the past two seasons competing alongside some of the best players in the world. Cassidy is a proven winner and leader, and we are proud to be adding a top-6 forward of her caliber – a tremendous two-way center who plays top-line minutes.”
While at Clarkson (2105-19), Vinkle appeared in 162 games – the most in program history. She put up 60 points (23g-37a) while helping the Golden Knights to NCAA titles in 2017 and 2018. She was an alternate captain her junior season (2018), before ascending to team captain the following year.
“I signed with the Beauts because I feel Buffalo will allow me to reach my potential on and off the ice,” Vinkle said in the press release. “Nate, Coach Rhea (Coad), and the players have been very welcoming and helpful in my transition to the NWHL. I look forward to buying into the culture that the Beauts are building and making an impact this season.”
“I feel I can bring my championship experience and desire to win to Buffalo,” added Vinkle. “Having a successful college career at Clarkson University showed me that in order to be the best, you need to have a standard of excellence each day. There is a lot of talent on the Beauts right now, and I want to add to it, and be a piece of the puzzle that brings the Isobel Cup back to Buffalo.”
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.