Below is analysis on every selection of the 2020 NWHL Draft. This piece will be updated as selections are announced.
THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED FOLLOWING THE 2ND DAY OF THE 2020 NWHL DRAFT
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- Boston (via TOR) – F Sammy Davis, Boston University
This is about as close to a slam dunk pick as you will get. Davis is absolutely worth the package the Pride gave up to move up and take her at #1, and it also means that they keep the best player in the draft out of Connecticut’s hands. I’m on the record being skeptical that Davis would be available given her National Team ties, but clearly GM Karilyn Pilch was able to leverage her personal relationship with BU to get this done. Davis played at nearly a point-per-game pace in her college career in arguably the most competitive conference in the country, took home a Beanpot MVP, and was a multi-year captain for the Terriers. The rich get richer.
- Connecticut – F Kayla Friesen, Clarkson
Friesen spent her first three seasons at St. Cloud State, but transferred to Clarkson for her final campaign. She missed some time to injuries early in the season, but she exploded offensively this year. She plays physical, has good vision, and is defensively responsible. This is a strong pick for a Whale team that is starved for offensive firepower.
- Buffalo – G Carly Jackson, Maine
Leave it to Mandy Cronin to take a goaltender 3rd The Beauts used a league-high 4 goaltenders this season, and struggled to find any level of consistency between the pipes. That should no longer be a problem. Jackson has the raw athletic tools to steal a game for her team, and the drive to compete for every puck. Clearly, she also has quite the personality, something that should fit in nicely in Buffalo. Jackson singlehandedly held Maine in their semifinal matchup against Northeastern this year, shutting out the Huskies for the first two periods before finally being overwhelmed. The Huskies scored 9 goals in the championship game against UConn. They only managed two against Jackson.
- Metropolitan – D Saroya Tinker, Yale
Getting Renee Hess, founder of the Black Girls Hockey Club to announce this pick was a stroke of genius by the league and the Riveters. For a team that can score with the best of them, they struggled to protect goaltender Sam Walther on a consistent basis, and Walther ended up missing some time as a result due to injury. Tinker brings a smooth, intelligent game to the next level. She probably won’t blow the scoresheet apart, but she’s borderline dominant in her own end. Smart pick.
- Minnesota – F Alex Woken, Minnesota
The Whitecaps stayed local, taking a smart, skilled two-way forward in the Golden Gophers’ Woken. The Fargo, North Dakota native didn’t dominate offensively, but she brings a heady, 200-foot game to the table, and Minnesota doesn’t have too many holes to worry about moving forward. She’ll be a nice compliment to Jonna Curtis and League co-MVP Allie Thunstrom.
- Toronto (via BOS) – F Jaycee Gebhard, Robert Morris
Well, Toronto certainly welcomed themselves in with a bang. I did not think Gebhard would be available given her Hockey Canada ties, but I think Toronto would’ve taken her at #1, even over Davis. She’s dynamic, quick, intelligent, and she is going to shred the league as a rookie. This is scary good work from Digit Murphy and company.
- Connecticut – D Tori Howran, UNH
This pick may surprise some people, but Howran has been one of Hockey East’s best-kept secrets for a while now. This should take some pressure off of Shannon Doyle in the long run, but Howran brings arguably more skill to the table. She has a cannon of a shot, can be effective on the powerplay, and is a fluid skater, particularly for her size, but her best asset is her brain. Her positioning in the defensive zone is fantastic, she does a great job of using her physicality to break up a play, and she consistently makes great decisions exiting the zone. She is also a tremendous penalty killer. She has an unrelenting motor and impressive stamina, so she is willing and able to shoulder heavy minutes when needed. This pick is going to pay off well in the long run for Connecticut.
- Toronto – F Amy Curlew, Cornell
After stunning everyone with their first pick, Amy Curlew is going to get overlooked a bit. She lacks the gaudy numbers of Gebhard, but she provides a calming two-way presence to a growing forward corps in Toronto. I like the way things are shaping up for the league’s newest team.
- Buffalo – D Codie Cross, Northeastern
The Beauts clearly need to get some help for super-sophomore Marie-Jo Pelletier on the back end, and Cross is going to compliment her nicely. She can jump into the offense if she needs to, but she plays a strong, physical game from the back end, and has an excellent first pass. This is a VERY necessary pick for a team that I expect to return only half of their d-corps from last season.
- Metropolitan – F Delaney Belinskas, Boston College
Yeah, this won the night as the best selection announcement. On top of having NYC nurses making the selection, Belinskas is an interesting pick for the Rivs. This should give them a dynamic #2 center to put with Tatiana Shatalova moving forward, allowing the Leary/Packer/Cornine trio to continue to wreak havok. The question is, will the Massachusetts native sign in New Jersey?
- Minnesota – D Patti Marshall, Minnesota
The Whitecaps doubled down on Golden Gophers, and shored up their blueline with a former US U18 defender in Marshall. She will provide a steady presence on the back end, and can chip in offensively when needed. A really heady pick from Minnesota, but when you have a pseudo-monopoly on Minnesota players, it’s a bit easier to find a Patti Marshall this late in the draft.
- Boston – F Tereza Vanisova, Maine
Vanisova is potentially the most shocking pick of the draft. That the Czech native is choosing to stay stateside rather than move back home says volumes about both the league and the Pride as an organization. She is one of the most purely skilled skaters in the draft, and possesses the rare ability to dominate any given shift. She can be inconsistent sometimes, particularly defensively, but Boston has enough defensively responsible forwards in order to shelter her a bit and allow her creativity to shine in the offensive zone. Fantastic pick.
- Connecticut – F Savannah Rennie, Syracuse
The Whale started Day 2 with another swing for offense, something the squad sorely lacks at the moment. They get it in spades with the Syracuse alum, but her defense is…less than ideal. This is a pick I expect Colton Orr to shelter heavily with some defensively responsible linemates. If successful, she will produce. If not, she will allow quite a bit.
- Buffalo – F Autumn MacDougall, University of Alberta
Here’s where we get into the part of the draft where I’m fairly useless analysis-wise. Autumn MacDougall is a big deal. They even got Steve Dangle to announce the pick. She holds several program records, including the most powerplay goals (24) and game-winning goals (18) in Alberta history, and is 6th all-time in scoring with 125 points. She won a USports National Championship in 2017, and is a 2-time Canada West Champion (2019, 2020). From all accounts, the diminutive Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native is a talent scorer, something that should compliment the Beauts’ top line nicely. She is also the first ever USports player drafted in league history.
- Toronto – F Erin Locke, York University
After waiting so long to get a USports player drafted, they went back to back! Erin Locke is more of a two-way force for York, and gives the newest franchise a reliable defensive forward to help fill out their forward corps. I’m starting to get a LITTLE concerned at the lack of defensive help here though.
- Metropolitan – G Tera Hoffman, Yale
So, goalies are voodoo. The player card doesn’t love this pick from the Riveters, and I think it might be a touch early to have taken Hofmann. To her credit, she was very, very successful at Yale, and with the injury Sam Walther suffered towards the end of the season last year should concern the franchise, because they did not have a viable backup in the wings to take the pressure off. Hoffman gives them a sense of security moving forward.
- Minnesota – F Presley Norby, Wisconsin
Minnesota continues to flex their WCHA muscles here, as if geography wasn’t an issue, Norby wouldn’t have made it out of the first round. She generates offense at an exceptional rate, though her defense is merely average. She should complement the speed and skill game the Whitecaps tend to favor nicely. Bonus points for having Lightning defender Ryan McDonagh announce the pick.
UPDATE: NORBY HAS INDICATED THAT SHE WILL NOT SIGN AND INSTEAD EMBARK ON HER CAREER IN COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE. IT IS UNCLEAR HOW PLAYER RIGHTS WORK AND WHETHER OR NOT THE WHITECAPS WOULD STILL RETAIN HER RIGHTS.
- Boston – F Taylor Wenczkowski, UNH
I will acknowledge my personal bias here – I grew up PLAYING with Taylor, and have spent the past two years working with her professionally. With that out of the way, this is pretty good value. Wenczkowski has a cannon of a shot, and put up 20 goals in her junior season, earning a spot at U.S. National Team Camp over the summer. When she came back to Durham, she struggled to find the time and space to get her shot off as much as she did last year, but settled into more of a distribution role as time went on. She can get frustrated when it isn’t going well, and has a rather extensive injury history, but she’s one of the purest goal-scorers in the country, and she brings a positive attitude to the rink every day. She will need to expand her periodic tunnel vision and her shot selection needs a bit of work, but this is one of the few players in this draft that can score at an above average rate from above the circles. Her shot is that good.
- Connecticut – F Amanda Conway, Norwich
Another one lacking a draft card, but this time because the Whale have once again reached into the Division III ranks looking for a gem. I think they got one. I’ve been on the Amanda Conway train for quite some time, and for good reason. In addition to a National Championship while with the Cadets, Conway tallied 185 points in 111 career games. Of those 185 points, 116 of them were goals. She scored at a more than a goal-per-game pace. For four years. That’s insane. This pick should give the Whale a superstar goal scorer that they desperately need. Now please, somebody tell her she is obligated to don a #96 jersey.
- Buffalo – D Kelly O’Sullivan, Adrian
The Beauts aren’t messing around on defense. After adding a goaltender at 3rd overall in Carly Jackson, they give MJP some point-production support on the back end with the second consecutive Division III player selected. She dominated the scoresheet at Adrian, to the tune of nearly a point-per-game production and setting numerous offensive records in her four seasons. This should take some of the pressure off of Pelletier and the top powerplay unit to produce, and even out the scoring a bit.
- Metropolitan – D Bridgette Prentiss, Franklin Pierce
This was the biggest shocker of the draft to this point. Everyone thought that Prentiss, a Buffalo native, to the Beauts was almost a guarantee. When the Beauts instead opted for O’Sullivan, the Riveters didn’t hesitate to take Division I’s best offensive defender. Prentiss snuck her way onto a few Patty Kazmaier lists this season after leading Franklin Pierce with 45 points in their first season as a Division I program. She is near-dominant offensively, and isn’t a slouch defensively either. This is a steal for the Rivs, and gives them an element they’ve been missing on the blueline for a few years.
- Toronto – F Natalie Marcuzzi, Robert Morris
Toronto goes back to Robert Morris for their fourth and final draft pick of their inaugural draft. She doesn’t do anything spectacularly well, but there’s not a lot of discernable weaknesses to her game, and she has built-in familiarity with their first pick in Jaycee Gebhard. What’s of more concern is that all four of their selections were forwards. Toronto had better hope they are getting some marquee defenders in free agency, or this is going to look like the Leafs on steroids. Guess Toronto has a type?
- Minnesota – F Haley Mack, Bemidji State
Haley Mack is tremendously intelligent. She isn’t the most skilled player, but the results speak for themselves. In a conference with Minnesota, Wisconsin, AND Ohio State, being able to post this level of productivity is impressive, and she fits the Whitecaps’ style impeccably.
- Boston – D Taylor Turnquist, Clarkson
A smooth skating right-handed defender. Sound familiar? Turnquist is the second coming of Jenna Rheault. The Minnesota native is a little smaller, a little quicker, and possesses a little more offensive flair than the Pride’s preeminent shutdown defender, but is still effective in her own end. Not the best shot, but it’s accurate when needed. What really defines her game is her brain (sense a trend here for Boston?). She’s an immensely cerebral player, and willing to fill a variety of roles for her team. This is a big leap for Boston to take a Minnesota native, so they must be quite confident that Turnquist will sign.
- Connecticut – F Nicole Guagliardo, Adrian
Guagliardo spent her first two years at Mercyhurst and her junior year with Lindenwood before transferring to Adrian for her final collegiate season. She started to break out offensively at Lindenwood, and matured into a leader at Adrian. This is an interesting pick, and I’m curious to see how it plays out in the long-term.
- Buffalo – D Logan Land, RIT
Yeah, Buffalo is absolutely not messing around on the back end. Land is excellent at generating offense for her teammates and in transition. Based on their selections, it seems the Beauts are looking for a more run-and-gun style offense this year, as all three of their skaters picked bring speed and transition to the table. Good luck to Carly Jackson, she may be busy.
- Connecticut (via MET) – F Maddie Bishop, Sacred Heart
This pick was a lock. Connecticut kid, from a Connecticut school, going to the team in Connecticut? It was always going to happen. Cam Atkinson provided the announcement too, which was fantastic. Bishop doesn’t inspire a lot of people in her own end, but is excellent at creating and finishing her own chances once she’s over the blueline. Sound familiar? It seems as if everyone saw Boston put up gaudy offensive numbers this year and decided that if they couldn’t defend against them, they might as well try to outscore the Pride.
- Minnesota – D Maddie Rowe, Wisconsin
Uh, curious selection from the Whitecaps considering the rumors that Amanda Boulier may not be available to them this season. Rowe brings some size to the table, and is at least average defensively, but nothing else about her profile suggests a high impact player. Hopefully she proves me wrong.
- Boston (via TOR) – F Meghara McManus, UNH
Meghara McManus personifies grit. She’s quietly been the most effective goal scorer for the Wildcats over her 4 year career at UNH, never having her shooting percentage dip below 10% despite a pretty decent volume of attempts, and put up double digits her final three seasons. This is because she scores the majority of her goals from in tight, in high danger, high conversion locations. She’s extremely effective as a netfront presence, and is an absolute pain to play against. Despite that, she ended up with a +45 penalty differential over her final two seasons at UNH, drawing an absolutely ludicrous 65 penalties while only committing 20 infractions. She’s exceptional defensively, and can step in as a #1 penalty killer next season. She ended up with 123 career blocks, well above average for a forward, mostly as a result of her borderline-reckless use of her body to dive in front of pucks. She can out-muscle the opposition in a loose puck battle, and her versatility is what makes her especially intriguing. This is the type of player who can play a variety of roles up and down a lineup and still be very effective. Great use of a late pick here from Boston for a player who is certain to make an impact.
- Boston – D Paige Capistran, Northeastern
The Pride finish it out with a strong defensive option. Capistran was overshadowed a bit by the younger, bigger names on a terrifyingly deep Northeastern team the last two years, but brings a strong skating ability and good decision-making to the table. She spent time as a teammate to both Tori Sullivan and McKenna Brand while they were with the Huskies, and was a team captain this past year. Seems to check all of the necessary boxes for Karilyn Pilch and company.
By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey