Will the Boston Blades be competitive in the CWHL this season?

The Boston Blades have lost many players to the new NWHL and it has many questioning how likely the Blades would be to defend their Clarkson Cup title, or even to be competitive this season. There are 11 confirmed losses to the roster thus far, with five more rumored.

Player Position GP G A Total Player Rating Leaving
Bellamy, Kacey D 16 1 9 4.3 Rumored
Bolden, Blake D 20 4 9 5.4 Confirmed
Buie Corinne F 18 4 3 5.0 Confirmed
Cooke, Kelly F 20 2 2 3.9 Confirmed
Decker, Brianna F 10 15 15 14.5 Rumored
Dempsey, Jillian F 20 8 10 8.8 Confirmed
Duggan, Meghan F 6 1 3 4.2 Rumored
Fratkin, Kaleigh D 20 1 6 4.3 Confirmed
Gagliardi, Alyssa D 19 2 2 3.0 Confirmed
Ketchum, Bray F 18 2 1 3.7 Confirmed
Knight, Hilary F 13 8 14 10.0 Rumored
Koizumi, Jessica F 8 1 2 3.3 Confirmed
Llanes, Rachel F 20 0 3 4.4 Confirmed
Marvin, Gigi D 0 0 0 0 Rumored
Smelker, Jordan F 20 8 6 8.0 Confirmed
Stack, Kelli F 2 1 1 6.0 Rumored
Weber, Janine F 17 4 4 5.4 Confirmed

 

The Total Player Rating (TPR) is a metric I developed with the Boston Blades last season that measured a player’s overall contribution to their team. I took all the statistics and assigned correlations to wins to get the value for each player. The league average for TPR is zero; therefore anything above that mark is above average.

By this metric the top five CWHL players of last season were Brianna Decker (14.5), Rebecca Johnston (12.3), Ann-Sophie Bettez (10.6), Hilary Knight (10.0) and Noemie Marin (9.5). In terms of team totals they were ranked in this order: Boston (131), Calgary (93), Montreal (84), Toronto (59) and Brampton (46).

With the players confirmed and rumored to be leaving the Blades have lost 88 TPR from last season, which would drop them to 37 total TPR from just the possible returning players without adding the new draft picks. Basically that says to me that the Blades would be just about as good as Brampton was even if none of their newly drafted players are above average this season.

Player Position GP G A Total Player Rating
Lamoureux, Monique D 17 5 12 7.9
Watchorn, Tara D 19 6 11 7.7
Pickett, Casey F 19 6 2 5.8
Potter, Jenny F 5 0 3 4.3
Myers, Megan F 10 0 2 3.5
Cottrell, Ashley F 12 1 2 3.1
Laing, Denna F 16 1 1 2.7
Burns,Dru D 1 0 0 1.9

 

Out of these potential returning players Dru Burns and Jenny Potter would be the most likely not to return. Even still if the Blades can add five players through the draft that become top 40 in the CWHL in the TPR metric (4.0 was the 40th place skater last season) they will be competing for a spot in the Clarkson Cup. Even aside from that I would expect Casey Pickett to take on a leadership role in the offense and perhaps even return to a point per game pace.

Based on the numbers, and my faith in new Boston Blades general manager Krista Patronick, the Blades will remain competitive this coming season and with a little luck may even challenge for the third overall spot at the end of the regular season.

A Few Non-Predictions For The CWHL’s 2015-2016 Season

We here at Watch This will not be posting a draft recap/season preview of the CWHL this year, because season/team previews suck to write and we don’t want to do them†. Personally, I am perennially in awe of people who manage to write well-researched posts about moves, prospects, etc etc., or even really any post at all, because I hate predicting the future and generally refuse to learn rosters until the players are actually playing. Having a work ethic is for suckers.

Anyway, here are some thoughts:

  • Historically the Blades have been really good, but their team has been gutted and now consists of like, 2 Team Canada players and some dryer lint, and possibly a curse-controlled Hilary Knight, so maybe they’ll be bad? Maybe not though. Who knows.
  • Brampton will continue to be an also-ran. This is a prediction based on history. Please don’t tell me if they actually drafted someone team-changingly amazing. My pride can’t take it.
  • Speaking of drafting, Calgary drafted Hayley Wickenheiser: Canadian legend, multi-gold-medal-winning Olympian, member of the Canadian Walk of Fame…37-year-old? This one’s a bit baffling. Who knows how it’ll go! As we’ve established, not me. (Brianne Jenner, however, is someone to watch on Calgary.)
  • The Stars are still the Stars. They’ll be in the final (probably).

OK that’s enough. For actual, substantive info, here are some links:

Have a good Wednesday. Stay safe out there.

† There will be previews of the NWHL, due to us having some new writers covering those teams. New blood! Less lazy blood! Somewhere a vampire is very excited.

2015 CWHL Draft Preview: Time to Restock The Cupboards

Where and When:

The Draft is this Sunday, August 23rd, 2015. We expect to see things kick off at 3PM eastern.

To follow along, check out the CWHL’s Draft Live Tracker, or follow along on Twitter:

If you’re a Periscope user, I’d suggest following Krista Patronick, the Blades’ GM. She’s said a couple of times that she’s going to try to stream portions of the Draft on Periscope.

The teams will pick in reverse-order of how they ended the season– so, Brampton first, then Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Boston. Familiar so far, right? So, the trick comes that each player, when she registers for the draft, has to provide the geographic area where she is willing to play– Calgary, Montreal, Boston, or Toronto (and thus either the Furies or the Thunder). She can pick as many areas or as few as she wants. The Boston GM can only pick players who are willing to play in Boston, etc.

The Picks

To register for the Draft, players must have graduated from college, and neither have ever signed with a CWHL club, or be committed to another league. You can check out the entire draft pool after the league has posted it– it’s going to be up on their site some time today.

Some of the most high-profile and notable players in this year’s draft include Marie Philip-Poulin, Hayley Wickenheiser, Brianne Jenner, Elizabeth Tremblay, and Katia Clement-Heydra.

Marie-Philip Poulin

Marie-Philip Poulin is notable because she has played in the CWHL before. When she was 16, Poulin played for the Montreal Stars during the 2007/08 season, and in fact was named Rookie of the Year, before going on to win the Clarkson Cup with Montreal in 2008/09. Poulin has been very open about the fact that she has only declared Montreal as the area she’s willing to play in, so expect to see her go to the Stars again. I’ve also been told by the CWHL that Poulin would be eligible again for the Rookie of the Year award, as it is her first drafted year.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Poulin is a great player, and a huge asset for Montreal to pick up. Poulin had 181 points in 111 career games with the Terriers, and held the captaincy as well in her senior year. She’s been nominated for the Patty Kaz twice, and was a top-3 finalist in 2015, her senior year. When she graduated, she left BU as the all-time leader in goals (81), assists (100) and points (181). Aside from her college career, Poulin has been rather prominent on the international stage for Canada. She’s won Olympic gold twice, in 2010 and 2014, as well as gold at 2012 Women’s Worlds. She has the unique distinction of being the only player to have scored the game-winning goal in every Olympic gold medal game that she’s been in, earning her the nickname of “Noted US Dream Ruiner” among several Watch This writers. She’s a great two-way, defensive forward with the confidence and skill to also make big moves on her own, and one who makes every player she plays with better and more cohesive.

Hayley Wickenheiser

Wick is a legend, and rightfully so. Hayley Wickenheiser is a 5-time Winter Olympic medalist who has been on Canada’s National Team since she was 15, and has the Order of Canada. She’s also represented Canada at the Summer Olympics once, for softball. She got silver at Nagano in 1998, and gold in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. She captained the Canadian National Team starting in 2006 after Cassie Campbell retired, up until right before the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She was named the tournaments’ most valuable player in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics.

She also made history as the first female skater to play professional men’s hockey. In 2003, she got her first point with Kirkkonummen Salamat of the Finnish second division men’s professional league. Wickenheiser also played in Eskilstuna, Sweden with a men’s professional division-one hockey team for the 08-09 season. She was also offered an invitation to the Philadelphia Flyer’s rookie camp in 1998.

Wickenheiser has said that she has only listed Calgary as a geographic location she’s willing to go to, so expect to see her in an Inferno jersey.

Brianne Jenner

Brianne Jenner is an Olympic gold medalist (2014, with Canada), and a graduate of Cornell, where she played all four years. She put up 229 points in a 129 game career with the Big Red, 93 goals and 136 assists. She’s a beast. I’d expect to see her in the top forwards in the CWHL next season. She’s going to grad school in Calgary, so expect to see her on the Inferno.

Team Drafts

Brampton Thunder

Brampton. Oh Brampton.

Brampton desperately needs some forwards who can keep up with Jamie Lee Rattray, Jess Jones, and Laura Fortino. The three of them had about 40% of the team’s points put together last season, which isn’t really a great sign.

They’ve had a rough time in net, as well. Liz Knox put up a .888 save percentage for them in 11 games, and Erica Howe, who started 13 games, put up a .896 sv%, which is not at all what I’ve been used to seeing from her when she was at Clarkson or on Team Canada. Sonja van der Bliek was dealing with injury last season, but hasn’t been starter material in the past either. I wouldn’t expect to see Howe back for Brampton– she was at the Buffalo Beaut’s try out camp, and while she hasn’t signed with the NWHL, it does mean that she’s likely been released from the CWHL (possibly with a one year league suspension if she didn’t ask to get released before she tried out).

Defense has been a particularly rough spot for Brampton– I feel like a lot of it has been a coaching / style mismatch with their goaltenders rather than necessarily their players, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brampton go for defenders in the draft.

Toronto Furies

Well, first off, Toronto is not losing Jenelle Kohanchuk! If they’ll lose anyone else from last year is, as always, kind of crapshoot to predict.

That said, Toronto could stand to pick up some depth scoring in the draft, and in generally, really needs to work on defense, and their away game. Their team save percentage was the second lowest in the league, and there’s a noticeable down-tick in their stats on the road. So, what are they going to do in the draft? It’s always hard to predict in the CWHL, as it’s hard to know what holes the team will be trying to fill, but as always, a good bet is forward depth and defense.

Montreal Stars

This might be a somewhat unpopular opinion, but I really don’t think Montreal needs Poulin to win the Clarkson Cup this year. I think they need depth scoring and to pull things together on defense. Montreal finished in a very close top three teams last year, and they have some rockstar talent already in Ann-Sophie Bettez, Caroline Ouellette, and Noémie Marin. While I think you’d have to be downright silly to turn down Poulin, I think the problem facing this team is spreading out the scoring from two or three hot players into depth, and not making Catherine Herron or Charline Labonté save your bacon all the time on defense.

That said, I’m really looking forward to seeing Poulin play with this team– it could be amazing.

Calgary Inferno

Calgary did a big rebuild last year, rebuilding their team to be fast and deadly on the front end. I’d bet Calgary continues in this line, but hopefully picking up some more defense and some depth scoring. This is also a team that’s had good but not outstanding goaltending– I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to pick up a goaltender, depending on who is available in the draft (or via a trade…?).

With Irwin’s health in question for this next season, that may be the place that Wickenheiser is expected to slide in, as another experienced top goal-scorer for the team. If Wick isn’t enough, Jenner is certainly going to add fire power.

Remember, Calgary also has a new coach this year– Scott Reid, the former assistant coach, replaced Kevin Haller, who was released toward the end of last season. Meaghan Mikkelson-Reid isn’t currently listed as an assistant coach, which she was last year. Several CWHL announcements around the Cup Tour mentioned Mikkelson-Reid as a player for Calgary– perhaps, post-baby, we’ll see her return to the ice as a player?

Boston Blades

Boston’s a bit of a gutted team right now, having lost almost all their team to the NWHL. If you look at last year’s roster, only eight players haven’t signed with the NWHL. Of those eight, the Blades are likely to lose a couple more. While I’d expect Tara Watchorn and Genevieve Lacasse to stay with the CWHL, both players were in the US to finish up grad school. With that done, I’d expect them to move to another CWHL team in Canada– I’m hearing possibly Calgary, which would make the Inferno a truely terrifying team to face. Jenny Potter only played six games with the Blades last season, and was named the head coach at Ohio State in April, so I’d be surprised if she sticks around.

Aside from the visible blow of losing serious high-end talent like Knight, Decker, Bellamy, and Duggan, one of the things that has made the Blades so much fun to watch and such a steam roller of a team has been their depth. The Blades have a new GM in Krista Patronick, a new coach in Brian McCloskey, a new arena, and essentially an entirely new roster. While the geographic limitations on player selection somewhat blunts the edge of this, the Blades have the last pick in the draft as well. It’s going to be an interesting season to watch the Blades.

Hilary Knight, Other Olympians leave CWHL for NWHL

We’re hearing that Hilary Knight, Kacey Bellamy, Brianna Decker, and Gigi Marvin are going to the NWHL’s Boston Pride, and that Meghan Duggan will be going to the Buffalo Beauts.

Knight, Bellamy, Decker, Duggan and Marvin are all formerly of the CWHL’s Boston Blades. All of them played on the 2014 US Olympic team that won silver, and Duggan captained the team.

Hilary Knight finished out the 2014/2015 season for the Blades with 22 points, 6th in the overall league, in 13 games. She had 8 goals, 14 assists, and finished out the year a +23. She had 7 points in the 2015 Clarkson Cup tournament, where she won her second Clarkson Cup. A former Wisconsin Badger, Knight has won two Olympic silver medals playing for the US in 2014 and 2010.

Kacey Bellamy also has won two Olympic silver medals, playing with Knight in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. She put up 11 points in 18 games last season for the Blades as a defense, also winning two Clarkson Cups with the Blades in 2013 and 2015.

Brianna Decker won the 2015 Rookie of the Year award in her season with the Boston Blades, putting up 32 points in 12 games. She first put on a Blades jersey in mid-January, and went to town, becoming the second overall points leader in the league. She won the 2014 Olympic silver medal with the US, and the 2012 Patty Kazmaier while playing for the University of Wisconsin.

Gigi Marvin also played for the Blades, putting up 5 points in 15 games as a defense in the 2012/2013 season. She has one Clarkson Cup with the Blades.   She also has two Olympic silver medals, having played in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics for the US. A former Minnesota Golden Gopher, she’s a big, mobile defender, with an emphasis on puck possession.

Meghan Duggan finished the 2014/2015 season for the Blades with 6 points in 7 games. Another former Badger, she won the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Award. She has two Olympic silver medals, playing for the US in 2010 and 2014.  She also started coaching for Clarkson University in 2014.

 

 

NWHL Free Agency Ends with a Fizzle, Not a Bang

You’ve probably already seen this announcement if you stayed up to midnight to watch the end of the NWHL’s free agent signing period, but things ended last night on a somewhat curious note.

Signings took a while to trickle in, with the first reported signings being Bray Ketchum, formerly of the Boston Blades, signing with the New York Riveters, Kelsie Fralick, a goaltender who recently finished out a college career at Connecticut College, signing with the Boston Blades, and Jessica Fickel going to the Buffalo Beauts after a college career with Brock University. Fickel is also the third CIS player to sign with the NWHL.

Then we started to get reports of players “agreeing to play” for a couple NWHL teams. First, Zoe Hickel agreed to play for Boston. Hickel is a former University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog, and a member of the US Women’s National Team that won gold at the IIHF Women’s World Championship in 2015.

Molly Engstrom, a two-time Olympian who earned a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics, and was a bronze medalist in the 2006 Olympics, also agreed to play, this time with the Whale. Engstrom is a former Wisconsin Badger, playing there from 2001-2005, where she was a top-10 finalist for the 2005 Patty Kaz award. She also played in the early days of the CWHL, winning the CWHL’s first championship with the Mississauga Chiefs, and later went to the Clarkson Cup Final with the Whitecaps in 2010, and the Thunder in 2012. She ended her CWHL career with the Blades in 2013.

Finally, Hannah McGowan, from Adrian College, has signed with the Buffalo Beauts, while Erin Barley-Maloney, from Cornell, has agreed to play for the Riveters.

We haven’t gotten any clarification yet on the difference between “agreed to play” and “signed”, but I’d speculate that an agreement is in place, but the players haven’t signed something yet. We’ll have more on that as we know.

The eagle-eyed and mathematically inclined of you may have noticed that there still appear roster spots open. Well, the NWHL announced at midnight that while free agency is over, and all 72 roster slots are filled, they will not yet be announcing the names of the last couple players just yet.

Out of respect for the players, the NWHL has agreed to not announce the remaining players’ intent to play in the league until they receive official releases from other leagues.

This is rather interesting, especially in light of the recent article from The Cut, that claimed Hilary Knight was going to sign with an NWHL team. As yet, we have not heard anything about Knight signing. Possibly she is one of the players waiting for an official release. If you recall, in one of Kate Cimini’s articles for Today’s Slapshot, the CWHL’s director of Marketing and Communications, Jennifer Smith said that the league “[does] not bind any player who does not wish to play here”. So, what’s likely, if Knight is signing with the NWHL, is that the NWHL is waiting on official word back from the CWHL about that release.

We’re not just waiting on Knight signing, however– there are 11 spots that haven’t been announced yet! It’s likely that there are either other players from the CWHL waiting to be released, or possibly from European leagues, or the Russian women’s league. To be really honest, I’m wondering how much the midnight deadline was playing in here– that’s kind of a rough time of night to call up other leagues and GMs about getting players released.

So basically: keep calm, guys, the rest of the signings will trickle out soon enough.

Some Details on CWHL Player Incentives

So, we’ve heard tell before that CWHL players receive a cash prize for winning the Clarkson Cup, but previously I hadn’t been able to hunt down many more details. Krista Patronick, the Boston Blades’ new GM, was able to provide some more info.

While CWHL players remain unpaid– and the current forecast is still one to two years before the league can afford to pay players– it turns out that the league provides a small monetary bonus for players who receive an individual award, or are on a team that finishes the season with the best record or wins the Clarkson Cup. Last year, the award amount was $500. This year, it’s been increased to $1000. These awards accumulate, as well — so if a player, like Brianna Decker did, receives an individual award such as Rookie of the Year, and is on the team that finishes the year with the best record, and goes on to win the Clarkson Cup, the player receives three bonuses. Last year, Decker received $1500 from the league in bonuses — if another player were to do so this year, they’d receive $3000. Patronick was not able to confirm if there was a minimum number of games that players needed to be rostered for the team awards.

While Patronick cited this as an example of the league’s commitment to paying their players, I’ve got to admit that this kind of bonus structure without a salary causes me some concern. While this kind of bonus provides an incentive to succeed, it can also be seen as providing a source of hockey-related income to the players who are, as top level talent, most likely to have a hockey-related source of income already, either from a national team stipend or from product or equipment endorsements. While all of this seems somewhat silly to quibble over– it’s at most $3000 this year, that’s not a lot of money– it’s not a great precedent to be set when players last year were required to pay in to go to the Clarkson Cup tournament.

Jenny Scrivens’ Husband Congratulates Her On Signing

Jenny Scrivens’ husband, who plays for a local men’s hockey league, took to Twitter today to congratulate her for signing with the NWHL’s New York Riveters. “Couldn’t be prouder”, he tweeted, “happy to see Jenny going to a team destined for greatness”. Jenny’s husband has played hockey for some number of years, and based on reports, is a very energetic and amusing goaltender.

When asked about how Jenny’s husband might fit into the culture of the NWHL, Jenny’s new teammates responded, “Who?”

New York Riveters Signings SO FAR

It’s been a hot second since we discussed the best team in the NWHL, the New York  ‘Dani Rylan will make this league international if she has to put players on her back and swim them across the ocean’ Riveters. The whole NWHL has been busy drafting free agents after they finished their player camps—some see October coming quicker than others (that’s a moderately low blow at the Beauts, who have thus far signed just five players… Buffalo, playin’ the long game… probably), but the Riveters have been making decisive moves in their recent signings. Loved ones, let’s take a journey…

FORWARDS:

…all the way back to late June, and the signing of Morgan Fritz-Ward. Fritz-Ward graduated this year from Quinnipiac University, where she was captain of their NCAA Championship quarterfinals-qualifying team, the Bobcats. Prior to college, Fritz-Ward was a member of the Minnesota Ice Cats, a U17 AAA team. (A short aside: the Ice Cats run a fine twitter account, @98icecats, which I highly recommend giving a follow for such gems as “Choc milk back at hotel.” But I digress.) Her collegiate career ended with a final tally of 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists), showing a record of improvement over four years—from a 16-game, one-goal season as a freshman to a strong senior season in which she notched 15 of her career 26 assists and was notable for her defensive skills.

Next, Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Hanrahan. Guess which thing we have in common: A) a sister named Claire or B) 75 points in 140 games with the Providence College Friars. Her new GM calls her a “natural leader on the ice with a knack for finding the back of the net,” which is very true—Hanrahan had great collegiate numbers and won a ton of awards, including last year’s Hockey East Sportsmanship Award. She also played with fellow Riveter Janine Weber at Providence, which continues the trend of the Riveters choosing players who have previous experience together, as they did in drafting forwards Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa from Boston College (If it’s not a trend, I’m making it one. #sportswriting). It makes a lot of sense to find players that already have chemistry and bring them onto a new team together, rather than hoping it will materialize out of nowhere, or relying on a ‘Miracle’-esque team-building montage to get you there (“I play for the United States of America,” more like ‘I weep openly at a film for children’).

Do you like NCAA Division I National Champions? How about two-time international gold medalists? Have the Riveters got a player for you: Madison Packer of the Wisconsin Badgers.

There is very little not to like about Packer—even her least productive season as a Badger saw her putting up more points than many players do in multiple seasons—and her best, ‘breakout’ season, 2012-13, saw her earn 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) in 35 games. Packer makes things happen. Plus, I am delighted to report that she has the third most penalties and penalty minutes in Badgers history. That, plus Packer’s self-described “gritty style” and relative size (5’9) spells big, physical, fun play, which I’m looking forward to.

For our final forward, we have the second international player to sign with the Riveters, Lyudmila Belyakova from the Russian national team. Since the Cold War is over, and wasn’t actually concurrent with my existence on Earth, I’ll lay off of the defection angle… but it will be difficult (see earlier ‘Miracle’ reference). Belyakova is described as “dynamic,” “goal-oriented,” and “creative,” all accolades that her experience belies—she played for the Russian U18 team at the age of 12 and the women’s national team at 15. I will give us all a moment to think about what we were doing at age 12, and to feel shame. She’s now 20, making her the youngest Riveter by at least two years, but already has, according to Wikipedia, “21 individual cups and 59 medals in various denominations,” including gold at the 2015 Winter Universiade university tournament. Belyakova is, simply put, extremely good. And very young, meaning she will hopefully have years of great hockey in front of her as a Riveter. Plus, her nickname is Luda, which is incredible, because now I’m imagining her as Ludacris.

DEFENSE: (DEFENSEWOMEN? DEFENSEPEOPLE??)

When it comes to Kiira Dosdall, however, the defection angle has a little truth to it. Not from Russia—from the CWHL. While this is neither the time nor the place to get into the relative value and worth of the CWHL with/versus the NWHL, etc, etc, the competitive dynamic between the leagues has been a tense discussion in the months since the NWHL’s beginning. Like Janine Weber, Dosdall left the CWHL’s reigning champion Boston Blades to join the Riveters. (Relevant: is there a Riveter that hasn’t previously played with Janine Weber? Also relevant: more past teammates playing together! #sportswriting #trends!) More seriously, Dosdall, at 28, has an impressive record at the collegiate, international and CWHL levels—experience that will position her as a veteran leader for the Riveters. She has played for the Blades, the Vienna Sabres, and Colgate University in the last 10 years, and some of her accolades include a Patty Kazmaier nomination and a ground-breaking four-year streak on the Elite Women’s Hockey League All-Star team in Austria.

The Riveters’ other defensive signing was Ashley Johnston. The six-foot Johnston played in the CWHL in 2010… while she was still in her senior year of high school. No big deal. When she went off to Union College, she was an integral element of their team, playing every game of three of her four seasons and achieving stats that included being second in blocked shots in her senior season. And off the ice, Johnston was busy assisting in the design of prosthetic limbs for children. That sounds like a joke about how impressive she is, but I assure you, it is not. Assume that this article was written through a monsoon of inadequacy tears.

GOALIES:

Shenae Lundberg, who played with Johnston at Union College (#sportswriting #trends #confirmed)  has a whole lot of talent to her name—a 1,110-save senior season cemented her place in the books as Union’s all-time career saves record holder and one of just 21 NCAA DI women in the ‘3,000 saves club.’ Lundberg is undeniably good, and, because this is the kind of scoop only I can bring you, her twitter (@lundberg_s1), while not super active, is equivalently excellent and includes what may be my favorite tweet of all time: 

Lundberg, regardless of her very real social media savvy and goalie skills, will not be the goaltender everyone is watching come October 11th. That honor will belong to the Riveters’ third international signee, Nana Fujimoto. Fujimoto represented Japan at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championships as the team recorded historic games, including their first victory over Sweden. Fujimoto, as Japan’s starting goalie at this year’s Worlds, was named Best Goaltender with a .938 save percentage and 1.52 GAA over five games.

Her signing received more mainstream media attention than any other NWHL signing so far, including a Puck Daddy exclusive interview in which Fujimoto namechecks Shannon Szabados as an influence on her game and reveals that she’s never been to New York City. As a current New York resident, all I can say is THE L TRAIN IS BACK, AND YOU ARE WELCOME. There’s a ton to be said about the influence that a female hockey player signing with a pro league will have on the game in Japan, but Fujimoto said it best in the aforementioned Puck Daddy interview: “Ice hockey is still a minor sport in Japan. To sign with a professional league in North America will have a huge impact. It will bring a bright future to the Japanese children playing hockey back there and [help] them to know more about the sport of hockey.”

IN CONCLUSION:

With 10 out of their allowed 18 players signed, the New York Riveters officially have more than half of their roster finalized. In the three weeks that remain before the signing deadline, the Riveters will have to fill in a roster that currently contains six forwards, two defensemen, and two goaltenders. Unless they’re skittish about a Florida Panthers-esque goalie breakdown (PUT DANI RYLAN IN NET), and with Kimberly Newell as a prospect, I suspect they won’t sign another goalie this year. But with that said, a whole lot still remains to be seen: will the team favor forwards? Defense? How many CWHL defections will we see? Will I ever stop making Dani Rylan jokes? Where will the next international player be from (please say Kazakhstan)? How are any of these people going to live in New York on $15,000 or less a season? Stay tuned, Riveters fans!

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Riveters signed TWO more players while I was faffing around waiting to post this– Elena Orlando, a defender out of Qunnipiac , and  Meghan Fardelmann, a forward out of Boston College.