Taking stock in the NWHL offseason post-draft

Michelle Jay
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It’s that time in the NWHL offseason where some teams have the blueprint for a full roster and others haven’t signed a single player.

There’s still a lot of time before the projected start of the season in late October, and surely some teams will make moves in the coming weeks. The International Draft, scheduled for July 25, is the next date on the offseason calendar.

Here’s a look at what each team has been up to this offseason to date.

Boston Pride

The Pride haven’t announced any signings yet, but there’s some things we know.

Lexie Laing, Tereza Vanisova, Carlee Turner, and Mary Parker aren’t expected to return. That’s a tough blow to forward depth, but the Pride are arguably the most desirable team to play for in women’s hockey. They’ll be able to sign some free agents.

They added forwards Abby Nearhis and Finley Frechette in the draft. Both are local, so assuming they sign, they’ll fill some gaps. It’s a far cry from the six rookies who dressed a season ago. Corinne Buie, who didn’t play for the Whitecaps last season, just moved to Boston. Perhaps she’s an option.

The core of the Pride — Jillian Dempsey, Kaleigh Fratkin, McKenna Brand, Mallory Souliotis, Sammy Davis — are all expected to return. The defending Isobel Cup champions will have depth. We just don’t know what they look like yet. With general manager Karilyn Pilch departing to be an NHL scout in Chicago, it’s unclear who takes over. New president Colleen Coyne will no doubt have some sort of role in building the Pride further.

Projection:

Putigna – Dempsey – Brand
Wenczkowski – Davis – Sullivan
Nearhis – Frechette – Rickard/McManus

Fratkin – Souliotis
Rheault – Kelly
Capistran – Turnquist

Selander
Hanson

[MORE: Thoughts from the 2021 NWHL Draft]

Buffalo Beauts

The Beauts are already in solid shape — moreso than the bubble in Lake Placid. They’ve re-signed captain Taylor Accursi, who missed last season, and top defender Lisa Chesson. Goalie Carly Jackson, who became a fan favorite and held her own as a rookie, is also slated to return.

Then the Beauts had seven draft picks, more than any other team, and they made the most of them. The second overall pick, Emilie Harley, is projected to play right from the start for a defense that needs some help. Along with fellow draft pick Anjelica Diffendal, Harley is a six-foot tall player. The Beauts have by far the most size in the league.

Jordan Juron and Emma Ruggiero won’t be returning. The rest of the crew, though, is projected to be a part of Nate Oliver’s squad.

Projection:

Vinkle – T. Accursi – MacPherson
Diffendal – MacDougall – H. Accursi
Lewicki – Meneghin – Stacey
Gehen – Budde – Colton

Chesson – Pelletier
Harley – Kremer
Delay – Dove

Jackson
Flagg

Connecticut Whale

The offseason darlings are going to be a fun dark horse pick after surprising success in the bubble as it was. Now independently owned, the Whale are having more offseason hype than any offseason prior.

The additions of elite scorer Kennedy Marchment and defender Allie Munroe no doubt contribute to that. Goalie Abbie Ives re-signed after showing some potential in the bubble, too. They might be able to reel in Metro defender Rebecca Morse and improve that defensive depth further.

First overall pick Taylor Girard is a Quinnipiac alum and is going to have the chance to earn some serious minutes in a top-six role.

No Shannon Doyle on defense is a tough blow. A full season of Tori Howran, recently re-signed, should at least fill some of the gap. She’s projected to be the top defender on the Whale.

Projection:

Marchment – Vlasic – Wohlfeiler
Russ – Girard – Friesen
Polaski – Anderson – Klienbach

Howran – Munroe
Morse – Beattie
Lague – Orlando

Ives

NWHL
(Michelle Jay)

Metropolitan Riveters

We know three things about the Riveters; Saroya Tinker and Sammy Kolowrat aren’t returning and Madison Packer is.

General manager Anya Packer made the first order of business signing her wife Madison, the Rivs captain. They’ll build from there.

They drafted four defenders after losing Tinker and probably Morse. They needed some defensive depth anyways. How many of them they will sign — Caroline Ross, Julia Scammell, Jordan Sanislo, and Morgan Schauer — remains to be seen. Even if they all do, that’s a young back line and a veteran presence could help. Kristen Barbara from Toronto could make the jump.

Projection:

Hutchison – Packer Leary
Janiga – Cornine – Lewis
Russo – Rushton – Voight

Ross -Sanislo
Dosdall-Arena – Scammell
Prentiss – Schauer

Hofmann
Shelly

Minnesota Whitecaps

So far all we know about the Whitecaps is their third round draft pick, forward Taylor Wente, won’t be signing.

Assuming their top two defenders drafted do — Tina Kampa and Mak Langei — the Whitecaps get some youth inserted into an otherwise aging blue line. The average age of Minnesota defenders a year ago was 30.

Assuming as well the Whitecaps keep their core forwards — Allie Thunstrom, Nina Rodgers, and Audra Richards — it’s a team that can compete to go back to the Isobel Cup.

Projection:

Rodgers – Thunstrom – Richards
Anderson – Schmid – Barnes
Mack – Pezon – Curtis
White-Lancette – Astrup – Martinson

Baldwin – Brodt-Brown
Rowe – Langei
Boulier – Kampa

Leveille
Morse

Toronto Six

The Six were the first team to sign two of their draft picks, forwards Maeghan Beres and Leah Marino. They’ve already retained many of their key players — league MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Shiann Darkangelo, Taylor Woods, and Elaine Chuli — and have made the biggest free agent splash with defender Saroya Tinker.

They’re also expected to lose Natalie Marcuzzi, Taytum Clairmont, and Mackenzie MacNeil, along with Julie Allen, who retired.

Tatum Skaggs, their fourth overall pick, signed in Europe and won’t play. The Six might be deep enough to have wasted an early pick to take a chance on her. At least, that’s how it looks so far.

Projection:

Bennett – Grant-Mentis – Woods
Beres – Darkangelo – Fluke
Curlew – Boquist – Coutu-Godbout
MacDonald – McParland – Marino

Woods – Tinker
Steele/Cross – Eastwood
Davison – Greco

Chuli
Ridgewell

Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.