The 2016 CWHL draft took place on Sunday afternoon in Toronto. A few dozen players and their families gathered at the DK (Doc) Seaman Resource Centre inside the Mastercard Centre to learn which team had acquired their rights for the 2016-17 season.
After a short montage about the league, CWHL Commissioner Brenda Andress opened the event with some remarks on the theme of legacy. She referenced the history of the CWHL as it enters its 10th season as well as the personal legacy that each player will develop in her time with the league. The commissioner also mentioned that the new season would include new merchandise, a new marketing plan entitled "We Are The Game," a new website, and better statistics information. Plenty to look forward to for the new season.
As Commissioner Andress explained, draft order was based on 2015-16 regular season -standings. The Blades - who finished in last place - had first pick, followed by the Furies, Thunder, Inferno and Canadiennes.
The general managers and their staffs were set up at tables on either side of the room. For the first three rounds, each GM went onstage to announce the team's pick and present each newly drafted player with a jersey and a team baseball cap. (The caps are part of the new merchandise - the team-specific ones look like they're already available online and the CWHL ones will likely be available soon).
The first round went as follows:
- Kayla Tutino (Boston University) - Boston Blades
- Renata Fast (Clarkson University) - Toronto Furies
- Laura Stacey (Dartmouth College) - Brampton Thunder
- Emerance Maschmeyer (Harvard University) - Calgary Inferno
- Sarah Lefort (Boston University) - Montréal Canadiennes
With the exception of the Furies' third-round pick, Michela Cava, all players drafted in the first three rounds were present. The commissioner mentioned that some of the players were shaking as they stood for pictures - despite many of them knowing what team they were going to it was clearly still an important day for these women.
After the third round was completed, there was a short break to make the draft picks available to the media. As the draft continued, GMs were given the option of making the pick from their table or from the podium. With several players still in attendance, most picks were made from the podium.
There were nine full rounds, after which the Canadiennes ran out of available players. Drama unfolded in the 11th round as the Thunder and Furies debated a trade, but ultimately the trade fell through and the draft continued in order. The Inferno's last pick was in the 12th round. Toronto had the final GTA pick, goalie Alessandra Armstrong of Ryerson University, in the 15th round. As the final team standing, the Blades formally announced their 16th round pick, however their remaining ten picks were announced via twitter. All in all a total of 76 players were drafted (full list of those formally drafted).
And how did I do with my predictions from last week? 11/12! Granted, I had Boston as Tutino's second choice and I was way off on Claudia Tellez, but overall players mostly went to their hometown teams.
Toronto Furies Draft Class of 2016
The Furies started off by drafting for need with their first and second round picks, defenders Renata Fast and Erin Ambrose. Teammates for the last four years at Clarkson University and in two stints with the National Women's Development Team, expect to see these two as a pairing on a frequent basis.
As expected, most players hail from Ontario - lone American Nikki Kirchberger being the one exception. Even then, coming from Buffalo she's much closer to Toronto than Thunder Bay's Michela Cava.
More than simple geography connects these players to their new team. Current Furies are welcoming former teammates and in a few cases, proteges, into the fold. Notably, Danielle Gagné played with Natalie Spooner for some of her time on the Buckeyes and Ella Stewart played with Katie Gaskin at Elmira College (another possible D pairing).
Spooner also serves as Player Mentor for the UOIT Ridgebacks where she would have encountered both Victoria MacKenzie and Jaclyn Gibson. As Assistant Coach at Buffalo State, Tanis Lamoureux was likely instrumental in recruiting Kirchberger. Kori Cheverie, recently promoted to Assistant Coach for the men's team at Ryerson, has been involved for several years with both teams as Skate Training Specialist where she would have met Alex Armstrong.
With our 7th pick, Furies take F Erin Zach, previously of a Buffalo team, previously previously of RIT.— Toronto Furies (@TorontoCWHL) August 21, 2016
With two former players and five former draft picks from the NWHL on the CWHL draft list, there was a high likelihood that someone was going to be throwing some shade. Toronto drafted former Buffalo Beaut Erin Zach along with two former draft picks, Erin Ambrose and Jenna Dingeldein.
Although there's not a lot of room up front, and the Furies entered the draft with at least four goalies already, expect this group to make a strong case to be included in the 2016-17 roster.
Season tickets are onsale now.
1 Renata Fast, D, Clarkson University
2 Erin Ambrose, D, Clarkson University
3 Michela Cava, F, University of Minnesota-Duluth
4 none - traded to Brampton in 2015-16 for G Sonja van der Bliek
5 Jenna Dingeldein, F, Mercyhurst University
6 Danielle Gagné, F, ERC Ingolstadt (previously Ohio State University)
7 Erin Zach, C, Buffalo Beauts (previously Rochester Institute of Technology)
8 Vanessa Spataro, LW, St Cloud State University
9 Ella Stewart, D, Elmira College
10 Victoria MacKenzie, F, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
11 Carlee Eusepi, D, Clarkson University
12 Jaclyn Gibson, F, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
13 Nicole Kirchberger, D, Buffalo State College
14 Jessica Platt, D,
15 Alessandra Armstrong, G, Ryerson University