The National Women’s Hockey League recently held its annual selection draft which included five rounds of six selections. The two-day, 30-player virtual draft was highlighted by a blockbuster deal prior to the first overall selection, as well as two Manitobans hearing their names called – with one of which being the second overall selection.
With the league’s sixth, and first Canadian franchise newly-established in Toronto as of April 22, the 2020 draft went without hiccup, seeing all 30 players selected within the two-day period. 19 of the draftees were 1998-born players, while eight females born in the year 1997 also heard their names called. Three overage 23-year-old 1996-born players were also selected. 16 Americans were drafted, while 13 Canadians were taken. One player was chosen from Czech Republic.
19 forwards were chosen, including a draft-high of five forwards in the third-round. Nine defencemen were selected, while two goaltenders were drafted, including Carly Jackson at third overall by the Buffalo Beauts.
Despite being the league’s newest team and in a desperate need to build up the roster, the Toronto-based franchise (which will have its team moniker, colour scheme, home venues and team staff announced in the coming weeks) ended up tied the Metropolitan Riveters for the fewest selections (four), while the Connecticut Whale and Boston Pride each managed six picks. Both the Minnesota Whitecaps and the Beauts kept all granted selections, choosing five players apiece.
Prior to commencement, Toronto and Boston teamed up for the only deal of the draft, with the Pride acquiring the first overall selection and Toronto’s fifth round selection in the draft in exchange for Boston’s first round selection in both the 2020 and 2021 drafts, as well as a second round pick in 2021.
That first overall selection was used by Boston to select homegrown Boston University forward Sammy Davis. The Pembroke, Massachusetts product spent the past five years with the Terriers, serving as team captain during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, where she put up 93 points in her final two seasons of NCAA Division I action. The 23-year-old finished her career with 66 goals, 142 points and 78 penalty minutes in 147 games played, despite missing her entire junior season in 2017-18 due to injury.
Following the first overall selection, Connecticut selected 22-year-old Winnipeg product Kayla Friesen. Having recently transferred to Clarkson University for her senior NCAA season, the former St. Mary’s Academy star – who had 63 goals and 168 points in a combined 140 CAHS games from 2013-16 – put up a career-best 10 goals, 30 points and 41 penalty minutes to go along with a plus-20 rating in 28 games for the Golden Knights in Potsdam, New York.
After three seasons with the St. Cloud State University Huskies, Friesen moved on to Clarkson University, citing differences in direction and a larger role as her reasoning. With the Huskies, Friesen had 16 goals, 50 points and 54 penalty minutes while serving as a combined minus-36 overall. Friesen had a very hot start with Clarkson, putting up four goals and five points in just her first two games, and 20 points in her first 15 games. She finished her NCAA career with 26 goals and 80 points in 131 regular season games.
It was a matter of another round-and-a-half until another Manitoban heard her name called, as East St. Paul’s Savannah Rennie was chosen 13th overall, also by Connecticut. The Syracuse University forward spent the past four seasons suiting up for the Orange, where she put up 27 goals, 67 points, 107 penalty minutes and a plus-8 rating over 123 regular season games. At that point in the draft, the Whale had selected one defenceman from Ontario and two Manitoban forwards.
The 21-year-old finished third in scoring with Syracuse in 2019-20 in her senior season. Rennie played for Shaftesbury High School prior to committing to Division I NCAA action in New York with the Orange, beginning in the 2016-17 season. The 5-foot-7 forward skated in 34 games in all but one of her four seasons, providing a physical presence, as noted by her 107 career penalty minutes.
Connecticut’s two Manitoban selections of forwards Friesen and Rennie proved to be the only ones of the draft. Despite 13 Canadians having been selected, only two were Manitobans. Ontario led the way with six choices, while Nova Scotia also saw two players drafted. One selection came from each of the provinces of Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
A full breakdown of draft results is listed below:
1 – Boston Pride (from Toronto NWHL) – Sammy Davis – F – Boston University
2 – Connecticut Whale – Kayla Friesen – F – Clarkson
3 – Buffalo Beauts – Carly Jackson – G – Maine
4 – Metropolitan Riveters – Saroya Tinker – D – Yale
5 – Minnesota Whitecaps – Alex Woken – F – Minnesota
6 – Toronto NWHL (from Pride) – Jaycee Gebhard – F – Robert Morris
7 – Connecticut Whale – Victoria Howran – D – New Hampshire
8 – Toronto NWHL – Amy Curlew – F – Cornell
9 – Buffalo Beauts – Codie Cross – D – Northeastern
10 – Metropolitan Riveters – Delaney Belinskas – F – Boston College
11 – Minnesota Whitecaps – Patti Marshall – D – Minnesota
12 – Boston Pride – Tereza Vanisova – F – Maine
13 – Connecticut Whale – Savannah Rennie – F – Syracuse
14 – Buffalo Beauts – Autumn MacDougal – F – University of Alberta
15 – Toronto NWHL – Erin Locke – F – York University
16 – Metropolitan Riveters – Tera Hofmann – G – Yale
17 – Minnesota Whitecaps – Presley Norby – F – Wisconsin
18 – Boston Pride – Taylor Wenczkowski – F – New Hampshire
19 – Connecticut Whale – Amanda Conway – F – Norwich University
20 – Buffalo Beauts – Kelly O’Sullivan – D – Adrian College
21 – Metropolitan Riveters – Bridgette Prentiss – F – Franklin Pierce
22 – Toronto NWHL – Natalie Marcuzzi – F – Robert Morris
23 – Minnesota Whitecaps – Haley Mack – F – Bemidji State
24 – Boston Pride – Taylor Turnquist – D – Clarkson
25 – Connecticut Whale – Nicole Guagliardo – F – Adrian College
26 – Buffalo Beauts – Logan Land – D – RIT
27 – Connecticut Whale – Maddie Bishop – F – Sacred Heart
28 – Minnesota Whitecaps – Maddie Rowe – D – Wisconsin
29 – Boston Pride – Meghara McManus – F – New Hampshire
30 – Boston Pride – Paige Capistran – D – Northeastern