The Canadian Women’s Hockey League draft was this afternoon, and both the Markham Thunder and Toronto Furies arrived at the MasterCard Centre with team needs to fill. Markham is down three defenders from last year’s roster, two to centralization (Laura Fortino, Jocelyne Larocque) and one who left for the NWHL (Sarah Edney). Toronto also needs help on defense, with Erin Ambrose and Renata Fast centralized, but unlike Markham they’re dealing with an especially large gap at forward. Not only did Kelly Terry retire, and Jenelle Kohanchuk and Michela Cava sign with MODO Hockey in Sweden, but team captain and offensive dynamo Natalie Spooner is centralizing so she can terrorize some American goalies this year instead.
2017 CWHL Draft: GTA top prospects
With that in mind, out of the record number of signups for this year’s draft, who did the two GTA teams select? Here’s the list from the first thirteen rounds, the portion of the draft that included the GTA teams, along with some commentary on a few of the players.
(Note: Since everyone who signs up for the CWHL Draft is guaranteed to be drafted, but players can select a preferred location, sometimes the player pool for one location will “run out” sooner than others. That ends the draft for those teams. The last GTA player of this year’s draft went to Toronto, so they had thirteen rounds and Markham had twelve.)
Toronto Furies picks
Round One: Kristyn Capizzano, Boston College (F)
I was very glad to see this pick. Capizzano is one of the better forwards in the draft, with a record of 24 points and an alternate captaincy on a consistently excellent Boston College team. She’ll provide a boost to the Furies’ ravaged offense.
Round Two: Brittany Zuback, University of Vermont (LW)
More scoring help for the Furies. Zuback graduated from UVM in 2015, scoring 30+ points her junior and senior seasons. Judging by her Elite Prospects page, she’s been out of high-level organized hockey for a couple years, but she’s still only 24.
Round Three: Sydney Kidd, New York Riveters (D)
A University of Western Ontario graduate, Kidd played with the New York Riveters last year, putting up 4 points in 17 games. While her presence will hardly fill the hole left by the departures of Ambrose and Fast, it might help patch it over until they return.
Round Four: Shannon Stewart, ECDC Memmingen (RW)
Stewart, a graduate of SUNY-Plattsburgh, signed with the SDHL’s Linkoping HC out of school and then spent a season in Germany with ECDC Memmingen. Considering her European numbers, Stewart might be a good depth scoring option.
Round Five: Alexa Aramburu, Oswego State (C)
Round Six: Cassidy Delainey, Elmira College (LW)
Round Seven: Grace Klienbach, Neumann University
Round Eight: Michelle Evagelou, Ryerson University (LW)
Round Nine: Maeve Kehoe, Union College (C)
Kehoe’s an interesting case—she graduated from Union College in 2008, and seems to have stuck to amateur hockey since (update: according to the Angela James Bowl twitter account, she played 20 games with the CWHL Ottawa Senators in the 2009-10 season). She’s also one of the older draftees at 31. However, getting drafted into the CWHL guarantees a tryout opportunity, so we’ll see what she has to contribute.
Round Ten: Audrey-Ann Boutour, Carleton University (F)
Round Eleven: Alessandra Bianchi, University of Toronto (C)
Round Twelve: Brooke Gibson, Adrian College (G)
Round Thirteen: Nicole Magee, Sacred Heart University (G)
Markham Thunder picks
Round One: Nicole Kosta, Connecticut Whale (F)
Kosta was a surprise—her name was not on the final edition of the CWHL draft list. A forward out of Quinnipiac University, she had 17 points in 18 games with the Connecticut Whale last year. This is a great choice by the Thunder.
Round Two: Lindsay Grigg, HV71 (D)
A defender who spent last year in the SDHL, Grigg is a Rochester Institute of Technology graduate and also spent a season with the Buffalo Beauts. Her numbers with HV71 last year looked good; hopefully she’ll turn out to be as effective with Markham as she was in Sweden.
Round Three: Cassie Clayton, Rochester Institute of Technology (C)
Round Four: Devon Skeats, Buffalo Beauts (LW)
Skeats made a name for herself in the NWHL as a scrappy, pest-y forward, but in an effective way—she’s not without skill. She announced her retirement after the Beauts won the Isobel Cup last year, but then un-retired to register for the CWHL draft.
Round Five: Justine Treadwell, York University (C)
Round Six: Rianna Langford, York University (LW)
Round Seven: Cara Sayles, Brock University (RW)
Round Eight: Megan Delay, Brock University (D)
Round Nine: Itsuki Baba, KJT (D)
Round Ten: Maria Sorokina, Dynamo St. Petersburg (G)
Most of us (me included) had expected Russian women’s national team member Sorokina to go to one of the Chinese teams. Her presence in Markham is a surprise, but a welcome one. She was one of the top goalies in the Russian WHL this past season, with .926 sv%, a 1.58 GAA, and seven shutouts for Dynamo St. Petersburg. She’s also young—22 years of age—so this could be a development move similar to Nana Fujimoto signing with the NWHL a few years ago.
Round Eleven: Anna Goulding, New Zealand Women’s National Team (D)
One of the prospects with a more unusual career path, Goulding is a defender from New Zealand who idolizes Catherine Ward and has spent time playing in Sweden (she played 21 games with SDHL club Leksands IF in the 2015-16 season, and spent some time in lower divisions, too).
Round Twelve: Carly Richardson, Father Redmond School (G)
While all of these players will have the opportunity to try out, many of them won’t make a CWHL team—with a roster limit of 25, returning players, and the desire to hold spots for any centralized players who might be returning for the playoffs, there are a limited number of spaces available. The intention of the draft is to supplement the existing roster, not to build a new one.
That being said, some of these players are ready to jump onto a CWHL team and make some noise, and team tryouts might reveal a surprise or two out of the later rounds. For those of us curious as to the final makeup of Toronto and Markham’s rosters, the hockey season cannot come fast enough.