We’re now exactly two weeks away from the CWHL Draft registration deadline for 2018. Our intrepid GMs Sami Jo Small (Toronto Furies) and Chelsea Purcell (Markham Thunder) have been busy recruiting, and the group of Ontario-based players on the Draft list is excellent in both quantity and quality. One one hand, this is great! On the other hand, it makes scouting a little harder.

Originally, the list of forwards I was interested in profiling was so long I was planning on splitting the article into two parts. Don’t believe me? Here is a non-exhaustive list of players who were on previous versions of this list:

Sarah Nurse (entered CWHL draft)

Kennedy Marchment (signed with Linköping HC of the SDHL)

Victoria Bach (pre-signed with Markham Thunder)

Rebecca Leslie (entered CWHL draft)

Kelly Gribbons (entered CWHL draft)

Megan Sullivan (entered CWHL draft)

Amanda Titus (signed with SDE HF of the SDHL)

Brittany Howard (entered CWHL draft)

Ailish Forfar (entered CWHL draft)

Breanne Wilson-Bennett (signed with MODO Hockey of the SDHL)

You get the idea. I’d like to thank the communications staff at various universities who contributed photos for this piece that we now can’t use. While I’m obviously ecstatic to watch the draft list fill up, the part of me that loves to gush about talented hockey players really regrets leaving the forwards until last. (At least I got my Shea Tiley ode in before she registered.)

Dear Sami Jo... Goalie prospects for the 2018 CWHL Draft
Dear Sami Jo and Chelsea... Defence prospects for the 2018 CWHL Draft

We’ll talk much more about some of those names in August. Until then, and with a couple weeks left before the draft list officially closes, here are three Ontarian forwards from the NCAA and USports who should still strongly consider tossing their hats into the ring.

Brianna Veerman, Cornell University Big Red

Burlington native Brianna Veerman has spent the past five years at Cornell University in Ithaca. She redshirted her freshman season, and just finished up her fourth year of play, scoring 20 points in 32 games and coming in fifth on her team in scoring. Veerman spent most of her senior year on the top line at Cornell, which gave her a nice bump in scoring. Her previous season high was 12 points, coming in both her sophomore and junior seasons, when  she was used in a more defensive role.

An especially interesting detail about Veerman is that she spent half of her junior season playing defense. Versatility is a great thing to have in a CWHL player—just ask Furies players Jessica Platt, Brooke Beazer, and Sydney Kidd, all of whom spent time at both forward and defense last season. When calling someone up from the minors isn’t necessarily an option, knowing that one of your forwards can capably play defense is a nice insurance policy. Acquiring top-tier scoring like Victoria Bach or Sarah Nurse is important, but so is acquiring versatile depth, a role Veerman seems to fit nicely.

Brooke Hartwick, Mercyhurst University Lakers

A forward for Mercyhurst University, Brooke Hartwick had the best season of her career as a junior in 2016-17. She scored 34 points in 35 games and was named to the second All-CHA team. While her points total took a dip her senior season—she scored 22 points last year, which was still third on her team—she only scored two fewer goals. Mercyhurst won the CHA championship this year, and took defending (and eventually, repeat) national champions Clarkson to overtime in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Their sole goal against Clarkson was scored by Hartwick:

Shea Tiley’s amusing body language aside, this is a classic example of a forward going to the net and knowing what to do when she gets there. Mercyhurst eventually lost this game because Élizabeth Giguere is a treasure, but if Hartwick joined the draft list, she’d have a chance to win an even shinier championship trophy in the CWHL. Maybe even while scoring on Shea Tiley!

Rachel Marriott, University of Waterloo Warriors

Rachel Marriott, who is definitely not on this list because I want to make Marriott Points puns (okay, maybe a little), has played five seasons at the University of Waterloo. Her career total of 85 points is good enough to make her Waterloo’s all-time leading points scorer, a great accomplishment for a hometown girl—Marriott is herself from Waterloo.

Like several other USports players mentioned in this series, including Waterloo teammate  Stephanie Sluys , Marriott won a silver medal at the Universiade with Canada. She had two goals in the five-game tournament. Marriott was also a member of the U Sports All-Star team that same year, again along with Sluys, showing that Hockey Canada was paying attention to her success. In the embedded interview, her coach says that without injury problems she would have scored even more—an exciting thing to hear about someone who’s already broken her team’s scoring record. CWHL competition would obviously be a new challenge for Marriott, but she’s a talented, big-bodied forward who rose to the occasion at Waterloo. I think she’d do the same in the CWHL.

The deadline for draft registration is August 10th.  We’ll highlight interesting players on the draft list once it’s finalized (it usually takes a couple of days—bureaucracy).

Meanwhile, we’re also waiting for the remainder of the pre-signings—GMs have until August 17th to pre-sign their first and second round picks. With the signing of Victoria Bach, Markham has one remaining pre-signing slot, while Toronto has three thanks to last year’s Erin Ambrose trade. (Can we get one of each, Sami? Goalie, defender, forward?)

It’s going to be a busy month of CWHL news, and I for one am hyped to see where everyone lands and what the league will look like going into next season. For instance, we know most of the Ontario players will land in the GTA but Toronto has hosted Japanese players before and there are some new faces from Japan on the list this year.

The 2018 Draft takes place on Sunday August 26th. We’ll let you know who the newest Furies and Thunders (?) are once the festivities are over.