PWHL Draft: Minnesota picks Taylor Heis No. 1, Toronto picks Jocelyne Larocque No. 2 | Albiseyler

The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) kicked off its first-ever draft with Minnesota selecting Taylor Heise No. 1 over Toronto on Monday.

Heise joins Kendall Coyne Schofield, Lee Stecklein and Kelly Pannek in Minnesota after the team signed the latter three players during the free league period in early September. Minnesota won the first pick in the Sept. 1 draft lottery.

The PWHL draft will consist of 15 rounds and 90 picks (incl snake draft format) from the pool 268 players who signed up for it. No draft picks will be traded until at least the end of the 2023-24 season.

1st round pick

  • No. 1 – Minnesota – Taylor Heise (C)
  • #2 – Toronto – Jocelyne Larocque (LD)
  • No. 3 – Boston – Alina Müller (C)
  • #4 – New York – Ella Shelton (LD)
  • #5 – Ottawa – Savannah Harmon (LD)
  • No. 6 – Montreal – Erin Ambrose (D)

2nd round pick

  • No. 7 – Montreal – Kristin O’Neill (F)
  • No. 8 – Ottawa – Ashton Bell (D)
  • #9 – New York – Jaime Bourbonnais (RD)
  • No. 10 – Boston – Sophie Jaques (RD)
  • No. 11 – Toronto – Emma Maltais (F)
  • No. 12 – Minnesota – Nicole Hensley (G)

For a full list of picks, including rounds 3-15, see here here.

AthleticInstant User Analysis:

What Minnesota is getting in Heise

On the day Natalie Darwitz was announced as Minnesota’s general manager, she said the goal was to draft a franchise player first. No one fits that profile more than Heise.

The 22-year-old center from Lake City, Minn., is a dominant offensive player with an eye for the net, a powerful shot and incredible possession. You get a lot of bang for your buck here as Heise is always in and around the offense. And perhaps no GM knows that better than Darwitz, who has been on the Minnesota bench the last two seasons to see Heise win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as women’s college hockey’s top player and captain of the Gophers. I just think it’s pointless. — Salvian

Larocque goes second in Toronto

Toronto will face Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight, the best players in the world. Why wouldn’t you like an off pair?

No one plays more minutes in more important moments. Larocque was voted the most underrated player in the game by her peers in a player poll Athletic in April And the toughest defender to play against narrowly beat Stecklein.

Larocque is very physical and difficult to play against. She’s the No. 1 minutes defender who’s been with the Nationals since 2011. She’s been flying under the radar and added a little more offensive bounce to the game under Troy Ryan.

Jenni Hiirikoski has played the most matches at the World Championships. The next best D? It’s Joce with 57. Add to that 17 matches in 3 Olympics and that’s 74 matches at the highest level in the sport. — Salvian

Boston gets a big threat in Müller

Müller is one of the best two-way forwards in the world who can distribute the puck and is relied on in key moments of the game. Müller – one of the best players in the North East – has a dangerous shot and makes the players around her better.

Müller is a top center and is considered a generational talent. She is the youngest female hockey player to win an Olympic medal at age 15 and scored a bronze goal for Switzerland at the 2014 Olympics. In 2019 and 2022, she was the Swiss hockey player of the year. He is 10th in Olympic scoring at the age of 25.

Elite vision and hockey IQ. He is a natural driver of the game. Plays with pace. He can play, the score goes. It just does it all.

Her Northeastern coach, Dave Flint, called her the most complete player he’s ever coached, and she’s had some big names come through the program, like Kendall Coyne Schofield. — Salvian

Scouting report on Shelton

Shelton is a big, physical defender who can play many different roles. He can be that solid defender to deal with the other team’s top line, or he can be the defender who jumps up on the rush and helps create offensive chances. She has an absolute bomb in the shot that makes her dangerous from the point when she leads the power play.

Shelton has been a bit more reserved with Team Canada when it comes to jumping on offense (at least compared to the likes of Ambrose or Harmon), but we’ve seen enough flashes of her decision-making and big shots to know she has an offensive edge. here. Especially if she gets tapped as a top pair D with PP responsibility and starts Ozone.

She is also a very deceptive skater. She has long but very powerful strides, making her one of those players who doesn’t look like she’s skating fast until she’s suddenly right at you. — Salvian

What Harmon adds to Ottawa’s defense

Harmon is a very slippery defenseman who is extremely good with the puck and stick handling and breakouts in tight spaces. There are times when it looks like the forecheckers will corner her and then next thing you know, she skates out of the scrum with the puck and is on the attack.

She was like a one woman escape as she was able to break pre-checks by beating the enemy teams F1 through skating, stick handling, fakes etc.

She’s not the biggest player, but her hockey IQ makes up for it. She is very smart at reading plays and positioning herself, which makes her an underrated defensive player. He won’t overpower you with his physicality, but he has such a good stick on defense that he constantly disrupts play and creates turnovers. — Salvian

Montreal gets a smart defenseman with Ambrose

Ambrose is a really smart defender. He’s not the fastest, but he has the ability to always be in the right spots or make the right reads in the offensive zone. He finds passing lanes well and makes a great first pass from the zone to the attackers.

I think this is a top D caliber pair that can be your best PP point guard. — Salvian

One trend is already clear with Ambrose: defenders are highly valued. Harmon plays both ways, but Ambrose is the first right-handed blue flag — and those will be hard to find as the draft continues. So picking a RHD this early will be useful for a team with a very good jump start at the position with their early picks. — Goldman

What O’Neill delivers for Montreal

O’Neill was a valuable 4C in the national team. She can kill penalties and play against top competition, but has also shown in college and in the PWHPA that she can play more minutes higher up the lineup. She finished fifth in PWHPA scoring last season with 21 points in 20 games. O’Neill is small (5-foot-4), but that doesn’t stop her from going to the corners or hard areas of the ice. In the PWHPA last season, only Poulin (30) had more interior chances than O’Neill (27). — Salvian

Picking O’Neill feels a bit early for a depth center, but Montreal brings in a very strong shutdown option to solidify their shutdown game. O’Neill’s strength is her versatility and ability to deploy in high-leverage situations. This will be valuable in a best-versus-best competition. It’s a move Montreal may think they can make given they already boast the best center in the world in Poulin. — Goldman

Bell brings strong skating to Ottawa

Bell is a right-shot defenseman coming out of college after captaining Minnesota Duluth the past two seasons. Bell was a member of Canada’s 2021 and 2022 World Championships and 2022 Olympic gold team before being cut in 2023. However, in her senior year at the University of Minnesota Duluth, Bell was second on the team in scoring and first among defensemen. Only Jaques and American phenom Caroline Harvey had more points as a defender in the NCAA last season.

Skating is Bell’s greatest asset. He can skate the puck out of the zone, close gaps and generate offense. She is a true three-zone player. — Salvian

Bourbonnais selected New York in the second round

Bourbonnais is a young puck-moving defenseman who could make a splash in the pros after spending the last few years out of college in a deep role for Team Canada. At Cornell, Bourbonnais was a Patty Kazmaier finalist and back-to-back ECAC Defensive Player of the Year. As a senior, she scored 41 points in 33 games. — Salvian

New York is addressing a position they haven’t filled yet: the right side of the blue line. This will reunite Bourbonnais with a former defensive partner in Micah Zandee-Hart, who was one of their first signings. This is the third right back outside the box. — Goldman

Why Jaques could be a franchise cornerstone in Boston

Whatever role or minutes Jaques was tasked with at OSU, she crushed it — including a jump to the top pair in her sophomore season. The defender thrives in all three zones and in every situation, but her offensive production stood out the most. Jaques’ 59 points in 2021-22 not only led the nation in scoring, but was also the second-most points scored in a single season by a true guard in NCAA history. She won the NCAA Championship in 2022 and won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2023 — only the second defender to win the award, following Angela Ruggiero in 2004. — Salvian

Boston swings for big stars. Jaques can be a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come. The score is obviously cracking, but he’s someone who stands out even beneath the surface. The 22-year-old is excellent in transition and crushes it in all three zones. He can be used in all situations and be an explosive force from the blue line. — Goldman

Maltais versatility valuable to Toronto

With Team Canada, Maltais plays a depth role in the bottom six, either on the wing or in the middle, and that versatility makes her valuable to any team. While at Ohio State, she boosted her top line a bit more with 206 points in 169 career games and became a two-time Patty Kazmaier runner-up. Maltais is just 5-foot-4, but she’s tough to knock off the puck with a relentless motor — someone opponents hate to play against. — Salvian

Minnesota picks the first goaltender in the draft

Hensley is the goaltender we projected to be the first player in the draft. She has the ability to be a real backbone of her team and can be relied upon to perform above average regardless of the pressure situation – she has proven this at the international level at both the Olympics and World Championships. With this addition, Minnesota gives Team USA-lite vibes. — Goldman

Hensley is one of the most experienced American goalkeepers on the board. Her .946 hitting percentage in 15 games at Worlds is the tournament’s best mark, and at 29, she’s still in her prime. — Salvian


The 2023-24 PWHL season will begin in January 2024 – said Stan Kasten, one of the league’s board of governors – and will feature 24 regular season games; 12 at home and 12 on the road.

However, Kasten said not every home game will be played in the team’s home environment. Some games will be played at neutral venues, outside of the original six league markets, in cooperation with the NHL. The PWHL and its players are also expected to appear at NHL events such as the Winter Classic and All-Star games.

This is the only season in which the teams play 24 games. In subsequent years, there will be 32 regular season games and the schedule will run from November to May, followed by the playoffs. The season will also feature international breaks during the IIHF Women’s World Championship and the Olympics.

The full schedule should be released in October, according to Kasten.

Required reading

(Taylor Heise Photo: Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

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