The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) kicked off its first draft with Minnesota selecting Taylor Heise with the No. 1 overall pick in Toronto on Monday.
Heise joins Kendall Coyne Schofield, Lee Stecklein and Kelly Pannek in Minnesota after the team signed the final three players during the league’s free agency period in early September. Minnesota won the first pick in the draft lottery on September 1.
The PWHL Draft will have 15 rounds and 90 selections (in a snake eraser format) from a group of 268 players who declared themselves in favor. No draft picks will be traded until at least the completion of the 2023-24 season.
Round 1 Picks
- No. 1 – Minnesota – Taylor Heise (C)
- No. 2 – Toronto – Jocelyne Larocque (RHP)
- No. 3 – Boston – Alina Müller (C)
- No. 4 – New York – Ella Shelton (RHP)
- No. 5 – Ottawa – Savannah Harmon (RHP)
- No. 6 – Montreal – Erin Ambrose (D)
The AthleticInstant analysis of:
What Minnesota gets in Heise
The day Natalie Darwitz was announced as Minnesota’s general manager, she said the goal was to draft a franchise player early. No one fits that profile better than Heise.
The 22-year-old center from Lake City, Minnesota, is a dominant offensive player with a nose for the net, a powerful shot and an incredible possession player. You’ll get a lot for your money here because Heise is always in and around the offense. And perhaps no general manager knows this better than Darwitz, who was on the bench with Minnesota the past two seasons to watch Heise win a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the best player in women’s college hockey and captain of the Gophers. I just think she’s a no-brainer. — Salvian
Larocque becomes Toronto’s number 2
Toronto will face Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight, the best players in the world. Because Wouldn’t you want a closed pair?
Nobody plays more minutes in more important moments. Larocque was voted by her peers as the most underrated player in the game in the player survey conducted for The Athletic in April And the toughest defender to face, narrowly edging out Stecklein.
Larocque is very physical and it is difficult to play against him. She is a number one minute-eating defender and has been on the national team since 2011. She flies under the radar and added a little more offensive leap to her game with Troy Ryan.
Jenni Hiirikoski is the one who has played the most games in world championships. The next best D? It’s Joce with 57. Add 17 games in 3 Olympic Games and that’s 74 games at the highest level in this sport. — Salvian
Boston receives a complete threat in Müller
Müller is one of the best two-way forwards in the world, capable of distributing the puck and being reliable in key moments of games. Müller, one of Northeastern’s best players, has a dangerous shot and makes the players around her better.
Müller is a top-level center and is considered a generational talent. She is the youngest ice hockey player to win an Olympic medal at age 15, scoring the bronze winning goal for Switzerland at the 2014 Olympics. She was named best forward at the 2018 Olympics, winning three times the Cammi Granato Award (Hockey East Player of the Year) and was the Swiss Ice Hockey Woman of the Year in 2019 and 2022. She is 10th all-time in Olympic scoring. she at 25 years old.
Elite vision and hockey IQ. She is a natural play driver. She plays with rhythm. I can make plays, the score goes. She just does it all.
Her Northeastern coach, Dave Flint, has called her the most complete player he’s ever coached and there have been some big names through that program, like Kendall Coyne Schofield. — Salvian
Scouting report on Shelton
Shelton is a big, physically strong defender who can play many different roles. She can be that solid defender that you could match up against another team’s top line or she can be the defender that rushes in to help create offensive opportunities. She has an absolutely spectacular shot that makes her dangerous from the point if she is running the power play.
Shelton has been a little more reserved with Team Canada when it comes to jumping on offense (at least compared to players like Ambrose or Harmon), but we’ve seen enough flashes of her decision-making and great shooting to know that There are some offensive advantages. here. Especially if she’s going to be cast as the top D-pairing with PP responsibilities and Ozone ownership.
She is also a very tricky skater. She has long but very powerful strides, which makes her one of those players who doesn’t look like she’s skating fast until she’s suddenly right on top of you. — sage
What Harmon brings to Ottawa’s defense
Harmon is a very skilled defender who is extremely good with the puck and when it comes to stickhandling and escaping in tight spaces. There are moments where it looks like the checkers would have her trapped in the corner and then the next thing you know she’s skating out of the scrum with the puck and is on the attack.
She was a one-woman breakout due to her ability to break the brakes by beating rival F1 teams through her skating, stickhandling, feints, etc.
She’s not the best player, but her hockey IQ makes up for it. She is very intelligent when it comes to reading plays and getting the proper body position, making her an underrated defensive player. She’s not going to overwhelm you with her physicality, but she has such a good defensive stick that she is always breaking up plays and creating turnovers. — sage
Montreal gets a smart defender in Ambrose
Ambrose is a really smart defender. He’s not the fastest, but he has the ability to always be in the right spots or make the right reads in the offensive zone. He finds passing lanes well and makes a great first pass out of the zone to the forwards.
I think he’s a higher caliber D who can be your best PP QB. — sage
With Ambrose, one trend is already clear: defenders are highly valued. Harmon plays both sides, but Ambrose is the first blue right back, and it will be difficult to find them as the draft progresses. Therefore, drafting a RHD this early will be helpful for a team off to a very good start at that position with their first few picks. — Man of gold
The 2023-24 PWHL season will begin in January 2024, said Stan Kasten, one of the league’s board of governors, and will include 24 regular-season games; 12 at home and 12 on the road.
However, Kasten said not all home games will be at a team’s headquarters. Some games will be held at neutral sites, outside of the league’s six original markets, in collaboration with the NHL. The PWHL and its players are also expected to appear at NHL events such as the Winter Classic and the All-Star Games.
This is the only season in which teams will play 24 games. In subsequent years, there will be 32 regular season games and the schedule will run from November to May, followed by the playoffs. There will also be international breaks in the season during the IIHF Women’s World Championships and the Olympic Games.
The full schedule, according to Kasten, should be published in October.
(Photo by Taylor Heise: Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
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