June 14, 2024

The Skilled Ladies’s Hockey League (PWHL) kicked off its first-ever draft with Minnesota choosing Taylor Heise at No. 1 in Toronto on Monday.

Heise joins Kendall Coyne Schofield, Lee Stecklein and Kelly Pannek in Minnesota after the crew signed the latter three gamers in the course of the league’s free-agency interval in early September. Minnesota gained the primary decide within the draft lottery on Sept. 1.

The PWHL Draft will function 15 rounds and 90 picks (in a snake draft format) from a pool of 268 gamers who declared for it. No draft picks will probably be traded till no less than the completion of the 2023-24 season.

Spherical 1 picks

  • No. 1 — Minnesota — Taylor Heise (C)
  • No. 2 — Toronto — Jocelyne Larocque (LD)
  • No. 3 — Boston — Alina Müller (C)
  • No. 4 — New York — Ella Shelton (LD)
  • No. 5 — Ottawa — Savannah Harmon (LD)
  • No. 6 — Montreal — Erin Ambrose (D)

The Athletic’s prompt evaluation:

What Minnesota’s getting in Heise

On the day Natalie Darwitz was introduced as Minnesota’s basic supervisor, she stated the aim was to draft a franchise participant at first. No person matches that profile greater than Heise.

The 22-year-old middle from Lake Metropolis, Minn., is a dominant offensive participant with a nostril for the online, a strong shot and an unimaginable possession participant. You’re going to get a number of bang in your buck right here as a result of Heise is at all times in and across the offense. And maybe no GM is aware of that higher than Darwitz, who was on the bench with Minnesota over the past two seasons to see Heise win a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the very best participant in ladies’s faculty hockey and captain the Gophers. I simply suppose it’s a no brainer. — Salvian

Larocque goes No. 2 for Toronto

Toronto will probably be going through Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight, the very best gamers on the planet. Why would you not need a shutdown pair?

No person performs extra minutes in additional vital moments. Larocque was voted by her friends as essentially the most underrated participant within the recreation within the participant ballot performed for The Athletic in April AND the toughest defender to play towards, narrowly beating Stecklein.

Larocque could be very bodily and a ache to play towards. She’s a minutes-eating, No. 1 defender who’s been on the nationwide crew since 2011. She flies below the radar and added a bit extra offensive leap to her recreation below Troy Ryan.

Jenni Hiirikoski has performed essentially the most video games at world championships. The following greatest D? It’s Joce with 57. Add in 17 video games over 3 Olympics and that’s 74 video games on the highest stage within the sport. — Salvian

Boston will get well-rounded menace in Müller

Müller is without doubt one of the world’s greatest two-way forwards who can distribute the puck and be relied on in key moments in video games. Müller — one of many high gamers at Northeastern — has a harmful shot, and he or she makes gamers round her higher.

Müller is a top-tier middle and is taken into account a generational expertise. She’s the youngest ice hockey participant to win an Olympic medal at 15 years previous, scoring the bronze-winning aim for Switzerland within the 2014 Olympics. She was named greatest ahead on the 2018 Olympics, is a three-time Cammi Granato Award winner (Hockey East Participant of the 12 months) and was the Swiss Ice Hockey Girl of the 12 months in 2019 and 2022. She’s tenth all-time in Olympic scoring at 25 years previous.

Elite imaginative and prescient and hockey IQ. She’s a pure playdriver. Performs with tempo. Could make performs, rating goes. She simply does all of it.

Her Northeastern coach Dave Flint has referred to as her essentially the most full participant he’s ever coached and there have been some large names to return by that program, like Kendall Coyne Schofield. — Salvian

Scouting report on Shelton

Shelton is an enormous, bodily robust defender that may play many various roles. She may be that strong shutdown defender you can match towards one other crew’s high line or she may be the defender to leap up into the frenzy to assist create offensive probabilities. She has an absolute bomb of a shot which makes her harmful from the purpose if she’s working the facility play.

Shelton has been a bit extra reserved with Crew Canada on the subject of leaping into the offense (no less than in comparison with gamers like Ambrose or Harmon) however we’ve seen sufficient flashes of her decision-making and large shot to know there’s some offensive upside right here. Particularly if she’s going to be tapped as a high pair D with PP duties and Ozone begins.

She can also be a really misleading skater. She has lengthy however very highly effective strides which makes her a kind of gamers that doesn’t seem like she is skating quick till she’s abruptly proper on high of you. — Salvian

What Harmon provides to Ottawa’s protection

Harmon is a really slick defender who’s extraordinarily good with the puck and on the subject of stickhandling and escaping in tight areas. There are occasions when it appears to be like like forecheckers would have her trapped within the nook after which subsequent factor , she’s skating out of the scrum with the puck and is on the assault.

She was like a one-woman breakout due to her capacity to interrupt down forechecks by beating opposing groups’ F1 by her skating, stickhandling, fakes, and many others.

She isn’t the most important participant however her hockey IQ makes up for it. She could be very sensible at studying performs and getting correct physique place which makes her an underrated defensive participant. She isn’t going to overwhelm you along with her physicality however she has such stick defensively that she is at all times disrupting performs and creating turnovers. — Salvian

Montreal lands sensible defender with Ambrose

Ambrose is a very sensible defender. She isn’t the quickest, however she has the flexibility to at all times be in the correct spots or make the correct reads within the offensive zone. She finds passing lanes nicely and makes a terrific first move out of the zone as much as the forwards.

I believe she’s a top-pair caliber D who may be your high PP quarterback. — Salvian

With Ambrose, one pattern is already clear: defenders are extremely valued. Harmon performs either side, however Ambrose is the primary right-handed blue liner — and people are going to be arduous to search out because the draft goes on. So selecting an RHD this early goes to be useful for a crew with an excellent leap begin at that place with their early picks. — Goldman


The 2023-24 PWHL season will start in January 2024 — Stan Kasten, one of many league’s board of governors, stated — and embody 24 regular-season video games; 12 at house and 12 on the highway.

Nevertheless, Kasten stated not each house recreation will probably be in a crew’s house venue. Some video games will probably be held at impartial websites, outdoors of the league’s unique six markets, in collaboration with the NHL. The PWHL and its gamers are additionally anticipated to look at NHL occasions, just like the Winter Basic and All-Star video games.

That is the one season the place groups will play 24 video games. In subsequent years, there will probably be 32 regular-season video games and the schedule will run from November to Could, adopted by playoffs. There will even be worldwide breaks within the season in the course of the IIHF ladies’s world championships and Olympics.

The complete schedule, in response to Kasten, needs to be launched in October.

Required studying

(Picture of Taylor Heise: Dennis Pajot / Getty Pictures)

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