Sauce Us a Follow

As every Draft provides hope and optimism, two key themes emerged following the final results of the 2024 PWHL Draft. Setting the tone for the season to come, change was definitely one of the themes which emerged. With so much talent, yet so few roster spots, every team is poised to look different in comparison to last season. Certainly, the introduction of team names and logos in August will only serve to reinforce change.

Not surprisingly, the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes led the way with eight players drafted. Representing the second theme, many clubs put their faith into these accomplished players, hoping their winning ways will continue into the pros. Hannah Bilka was the first Buckeye selected, taken by Boston with the fourth pick overall.

Montreal picked the next two Buckeyes, welcoming Cayla Barnes into the fold at fifth overall, while Jennifer Gardiner went 11th overall. The fourth round saw New York add Gabby Rosenthal to its exceptional draft class. One pick later, Ottawa picked Stephanie Markowski while Toronto closed out the fourth with Lauren Bernard. In the seventh and final round, two more Buckeyes came off the board as Boston opted for Hadley Hartmetz, while goalie great Raygan Kirk went to Toronto.

With roughly 25 percent of the Draft class consisting of European prospects, this influx of talent represented the final theme. Highlighted by Daniela Pejsova, linked to the first Draft Day trade, Considering that 2026 marks an Olympic year, the percentage could increase over the next two Drafts. Whether the European talent can excel in North America shall stand as a key point of interest this season, while representing the litmus test of this Draft.

New York (picking first overall) – Grade: A+

Draft picks: Sarah Fillier, Maja Nylen Persson, Noora Tulus, Allyson Simpson, Gabby Rosenthal, Elle Hartje, Kayle Osborne, Emmy Fecteau 

Analysis: New York did an outstanding job of addressing all of their needs. Sarah Fillier, a can’t miss prospect, was the right choice at first overall. Utilizing each pick wisely, the club has clearly improved their postseason chances.

Perhaps the best move involved trading the seventh and 37th overall picks to Boston in exchange for their 10th, 16th and 28th picks. The additional draft capital resulted in the shrewd selection of Allyson Simpson at the 16th spot. Having played in 80 games over the last two seasons for the Colgate Raiders, she brings durability to the blueline. Overall, the draft class reflects a combination of leadership, skill and character, qualities that should ensure an exit out of the basement.

Favorite picks: Kayle Osborne – Having played splendidly at Colgate University, Osborne already holds a key linkage with the franchise. Recently hired head coach Greg Fargo served in the same capacity with Colgate. Leading the club to an appearance in the 2024 NCAA Frozen Four, Osborne is a highly reliable goaltender, providing New York with a high value pick.

Emmy Fecteau – The recipient of the 2024 Marion Hilliard Award, Fecteau was among the most celebrated university players from Montreal. Having won a pair of national championships for the Concordia Stingers, excelling for head coach Julie Chu, Fecteau also served as team captain this past season. The only U Sports competitor, and only Quebec born athlete, taken in this year’s Draft, she is ready to shine in the pros. For General Manager Pascal Daoust, he may have found the steal of this draft.

Ottawa (picking second overall) – Grade: B+

Draft picks: Danielle Serdachny, Ronja Savolainen, Gwyneth Phillips, Stephanie Markowski, Mannon McMahon, Anna Meixner, Madeline Wethington 

Analysis: Selecting Serdachny at second overall represented a key move in enhancing the offense. Bringing a world-class player that is definitely on Canada’s roster for the 2026 Winter Games will yield strong dividends. Finding an element of toughness with Finland’s Ronja Savolainen, the blueliner brings plenty of international experience. With the likes of Markwoski, McMahon and Wethington, the theme of toughness remains evident in this draft class, a factor that could prove critical in Ottawa reaching the postseason.

Favorite picks: Gwyneth Phillips – The best available player in the Draft at her position, Ottawa made Phillips the first goaltender selected. Although Emerance Maschmeyer remains the club’s number one goalie, her workload will certainly be less strenuous. Phillips can definitely be called upon when needed Along with Serdachny, their combined presence and international experience should allow the club the extra star power needed to obtain their first postseason berth.

Madeline Wethington – An exceptional player for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Wethington brings tremendous character and a great skill set. Still available in the final round, Ottawa found a gem. Wethington’s game is poised to improve greater under the tutelage of head coach Carla MacLeod, a two time gold medalist on Canada’s blueline.

Minnesota (picking third overall) – Grade: C+

Draft picks: Claire Thompson, Britta Curl, Klara Hymlarova, Brooke McQuigge, Dominique Petrie, Mae Batherson, Katy Knoll

Analysis: The Walter Cup champions made one of the biggest surprises in the Draft, picking Claire Thompson ahead of Hannah Bilka and Cayla Barnes. Despite not playing last season due to commitments with medical school, Thompson, a member of Canada’s 2022 Olympic gold medal winning roster, remained a highly prized prospect. On a team with the league’s best goaltending tandem, such skill definitely on display in the postseason, expectations are that Thompson becomes the cornerstone of their defense.

Perhaps an even bigger surprise is that Minnesota did not draft Abby Boreen. Bringing plenty of heart in the club’s run to the Walter Cup, Boreen also played for the University of Minnesota. Passing on a homegrown talent will leave many fans shaking their heads.

Selecting Wisconsin Badgers superstar Britta Curl in the second round, landing one of the best forwards available, some teams sat on the fence about adding her to their roster.

Among the draft class includes a pair of promising forwards from Clarkson. Taken in consecutive rounds, Brooke McQuigge, the Golden Knights captain known for her grit, already holds a linkage to the league. During Ottawa’s inaugural season, older sister Rachel McQuigge served as a reserve goaltender. Following with Dominique Petrie, who put together a solid 35 point season represents a value pick, holding potential to be a top six forward.

Favorite pick: Mae Batherson – The younger sister of Ottawa Senators skater Drake Batherson, hopes were high that she would play in the same city. Having starred with Syracuse, followed by a season with St. Lawrence, Batherson was joined by her brother at the Draft. Capitalizing on Ottawa’s decision not to draft her, Minnesota found a highly skilled blueliner capable of creating offense. Amassing a very impressive 37 points in her sole season for St. Lawrence, she finished as an ECAC First Team All-Star. Although she may not yet be a top four blueliner for Minnesota, Batherson brings athleticism and drive.

Boston (picking fourth overall) – Grade: B-

Draft picks: Hannah Bilka, Daniela Pejsova, Sydney Bard, Shay Maloney, Ilona Markova, Hadley Hartmetz 

Analysis: Boston definitely hit a home run with Hannah Bilka. Prior to winning a national championship with Ohio State, she spent a quarter of seasons for Boston College, definitely adding a feeling of homecoming to this great pick. Adding another member of the US National Team to their offense, she will have great chemistry with Hilary Knight. In addition, Bilka, plus New York pick Allyson Simpson become part of a unique aspect of draft trivia, as both become the first players born in Texas to be drafted.

Exchanging three picks to New York for the seventh and 37th picks overall, the strategy resulted in a pair of European selections. Making Czech blueliner Daniela Pejsova the first European selected, Boston added Russian forward Ilona Markova with the 37th pick. Considered to be the best blueliner available, Boston hopes Pejsova lives up to the hype. Although Markova may undergo an adjustment during her first season in North America, she is poised to grow as a player

Adding quality players on their blueline with Pejsova, Sydney Bard and Hadley Hartmetz, another prized prospect from Ohio State, Boston had no pick in the fifth round. Between their selections in the fourth and sixth rounds, seven forwards were taken. With a need to still address depth on offense, Boston opted for Shay Maloney. A former captain for the Brown Bears, Maloney is no stranger to hockey in New England. Although she may be one of the wild cards in this draft, Maloney should be highly effective on a checking line.

Favorite pick: Sydney Bard – A highly talented blueliner combining academic and on-ice success in a brilliant career for College University, she contributed a highly respectable 112 points in 180 games played. Coincidentally, Colgate teammate (and Ottawa draft pick) Danielle Serdachny also reached the 180 games plateau. Renowned for being an intelligent player, including a reputation as someone always willing to learn, Bard will be a highly coachable player in Boston.

Montreal (picking fifth overall) – Grade: A

Draft picks: Cayla Barnes, Jennifer Gardiner, Abby Boreen, Dara Greig, Anna Wilgren, Anna Kjellbin, Amanda Kessel 

Analysis: Expected to be taken in the top four, Montreal was pleasantly surprised to find Cayla Barnes still on the board. Landing a highly exceptional talent on the blueline, she will be a great complement to Erin Ambrose, giving Montreal the league’s best defensive duo.

Addressing the need for more depth on offense, Montreal found four fantastic forwards. Selecting Ohio State captain Jennifer Gardiner with the 12th pick overall, the trademars oh her game includ work ethic and perseverance, qualities poised to make her a fan favorite.

Acquiring Walter Cup champion Abby Boreen in the third round could prove essential for next season’s playoff push. Second generation player Dara Greig is definitely a worthwhile pick. Touted as a defensive forward, she is capable of offensive flair, poised to bring reliability to a lineup poised to contend for a first place finish.

Favorite pick: Amanda Kessel – Although an element of drama surrounds the selection of Kessel, as rumours surface of a possible front office role elsewhere, it explains why she dropped all the way to the seventh round. Should Kessel decide to focus on playing the game, the selection may give Montreal a significant feather in their cap.

From the outset, the selection of Kessel mirrors Montreal’s late selection of another American hockey heroine, Jillian Dempsey, in the 2023 Draft.

Despite not competing last season, opting for an opportunity to join the Pittsburgh Penguins front office, Kessel remains an elite talent worth the investment.

The thought of Kessel calling Marie-Philip Poulin a teammate represents a hockey fantasy pairing. Undoubtedly, the thought of the offensive synergy already has fans anticipating what may unfold. One last hurrah would definitely be well worth it, for the league, players and fans alike.

Toronto (picking sixth overall) – Grade: B+

Draft picks: Julia Gosling, Megan Carter, Izzy Daniel, Lauren Bernard, Noemi Neubarova, Anneke Linser, Raygan Kirk

Analysis: Selecting the best forward available with the sixth pick overall, Toronto found a future All-Star with Julia Gosling. The second round found a high value pick with Megan Carter, who served as captain for the Northeastern Huskies.

With Patty Kazmaier Award winner Izzy Daniel still available at the end of the third round, Toronto found a quality forward that should maintain her high scoring ways in the pros. Equally notable, a pair of players from the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes land in Toronto. Blueliner Lauren Bernard and goaltender Raygan Kirk add valuable depth to the roster.

Favorite picks: Izzy Daniel – Among the subplots of the NFL Draft is where the Heisman Trophy winner will go. The PWHL enjoys the same intrigue with the Patty Kazmaier Award winner. Definitely worthy of a spot in the top ten, Daniel remained available in the bottom of the third round.

Having improved on her numbers every season at Cornell, Daniel demonstrated growth and commitment. Possessing the skill set to duplicate her success in the pros, she is poised to be a great fit on the Toronto offense.

Raygan Kirk – While the last player selected in the NFL Draft is known as “Mr. Irrelevant”, obtaining Raygan Kirk with the 42nd, and final, pick makes her very relevant to Toronto’s goaltending picture. In a draft that saw right ecstatic members of the national champion Buckeyes get one step closer to their pro dream, it was only fitting that the final pick represented Ohio State.

Recognized as the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four, Kirk brings momentum and impressive credentials to Toronto. Only the third goaltender picked in the Draft, it speaks volumes to her potential. Although Kristen Campbell is firmly entrenched as the number one, Kirk can learn from one of the greats, growing into the role with quality starts while not being rushed.

Closing thoughts: With 42 players drafted and over 100 undrafted free agents, the possibility that every team’s roster will feature at least eight new faces is very real. Whether this becomes a pattern in successive seasons remains to be seen, although it means that the impact of the Draft will only increase. Considering that there are only so many roster spots to go around, difficult decisions will need to be made by coaches and GMs. Unfortunately, the possibility that several dozen players from the inaugural PWHL season may see their careers come to an abrupt end after one season is a distinct possibility, perhaps raising the need for a feeder system. Fans can expect that the complexion of each team shall be radically different in comparison to last season. Certainly, the legacy of this Draft is that the quality of each roster will improve vastly, giving every team a realistic opportunity to compete, meaning that parity shall remain predominant for Season Two.

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