On Sept. 18, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) held its first-ever draft in Toronto. Following 15 rounds and 90 players selected, The Tribune breaks down how the leagues’ original six fared.
After a successful bout during the free-agency period where they signed Marie-Philip Poulin, Laura Stacey, and goalkeeper Ann-Renée Desbiens, Montreal capitalized on their opportunity to build out an even stronger roster during the draft. Selecting sixth overall in round one, Montreal took national team defender Erin Ambrose (6) as their first pick.
Ambrose, who is from Ontario, represented Canada in multiple renditions of the IIHF world championships, and was also rostered in Canada’s gold-medal performance at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, where she played nine games and recorded four goals and five assists.
Other notable picks for Montreal were McGill hockey alumnus Ann-Sophie Bettez (79), who recorded 46 goals and 44 assists over five seasons with the Martlets before going on to play for the CWHL’s Montreal Stars and then the Canadiennes. With their final pick of the draft, Montreal selected Lina Ljungblom (90) who scored eight goals––the most of any Swede in a single tournament––at the 2023 women’s world championship.
Winning the lottery, Minnesota had the privilege of the historic first overall pick. The first pick was devoted to 23-year-old Minnesotan centre Taylor Heise (1), previously playing for the U.S. national team. With their second round pick, they drafted WC gold winner goaltender Nicole Hensley (12).
After signing Olympic-gold winner Sarah Nurse to their team during free agency, Toronto took defender Jocelyne Larocque (2), a 35 year old shut down defender with their first pick. With Olympic winner Renata Fast, who the team signed during free agency, as her likely defensive partner, Toronto will have one of the best defensive pairings in the league. Toronto also drafted forward Emma Maltais (11), who played on the Canada national team alongside two-time Olympic gold-medalist Natalie Spooner (23) who the team took in the fourth round.
Other notable picks for Toronto were Jesse Compher (26) who won a silver medal with the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2022 Olympics and Brittany Howard (47) who led the PHF’s Toronto Six in scoring last season.
After capturing future hall of famer Hilary Knight and two-time Olympic gold-medalist Megan Keller in free agency, Boston looked to build on an already strong roster. With the third overall pick, Boston added phenom centre Alina Müller who was a top 10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award all five seasons with Northwestern and became the youngest ice hockey player to win an Olympic medal, scoring the winning goal in the bronze medal game for Switzerland in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
With their first-round pick, New York selected former Clarkson University captain Ella Shelton (4). Martlet alumni Jade Downie-Landry (52), who previously played for the PHF’s Montreal Force was drafted in the ninth round.
New York built up the rest of their roster with strong picks including Cornell alumnus and national team member Jaime Bourbonnais (9). They also selected two goaltenders with ties to Boston: Corinne Schroeder (33), formerly of the Boston Pride, and Boston College alumnus Abbey Levy (64).
With the signing of forwards Brianne Jenner and Emily Clark in free-agency, Ottawa looked to fill out their defence drafting one of the best two-way defenders Savannah Harmon (5). Their second round pick was devoted to Olympic gold-winner Ashton Bell (8).
With their remaining picks, Ottawa also selected two-time World Champion Hayley Scamurra (29), alongside recent Isobel Cup champion Daryl Watts (32) and Olympic silver-medalist Jincy Dunne-Roese (17) to strengthen their defence.