The calendar is closing in on Season 7 and NWHL rosters continue to form as players sign contracts for the 2021-22 campaign.
Teams had exclusive rights to re-sign any of their 2020-21 rostered players up until May 15 at 5:00 p.m. at which point the league’s free agency period began. A total of seven players signed during the month of May followed by 18 announcements in June to bring the league’s total to 25 players signed to date.
The Buffalo Beauts continue to be ahead of the pack in terms of off-season activity with 14 players committed for Season 7. That list includes seven June signings with returnees Lisa Chesson, Caty Flagg, Erin Gehen, Dominique Kremer, and Autumn MacDougall, plus newcomers Amy Budde and Emma Keenan. The Connecticut Whale continued to bolster The Pod by adding five players in June to bring their roster to six players. Returnees Hanna Beattie, Abbie Ives, and Emma Vlasic are joined by newcomers Kennedy Marchment and Allie Munroe. The Toronto Six roster now stands at seven players with five of them added this past month. Returnees Elaine Chuli, Mikyla Grant-Mentis, and Taylor Woods are accompanied by free-agent acquisition Saroya Tinker and 2021 NWHL Draft choice Maegan Beres. The Metropolitan Riveters made their first signing of the off-season by making things official with veteran and captain Madison Packer.
The Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps have yet to announce any player signings.
Here’s a summary of the players added to NWHL rosters through June:
Amy Budde | F
Minnesota native Amy Budde returns to North America after playing two professional seasons in Sweden and became the Beauts third player to officially join the club via free agency. Over 72 games in two seasons the two-time Lake Forest University MVP compiled nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points.
“I chose to sign with the Beauts because of the wonderful culture, and the dedicated and driven character that the Beauts have,” said Budde. “Sensing that from the entire organization is what drew me to the team. I want to win and I believe that Buffalo is the team to do that with.”
Lisa Chesson | D
Veteran blueliner Lisa Chesson will return to Fort Beaut for a fifth season in 2021-22. The team’s elder stateswoman and member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic silver medal squad began her NWHL career as part of the team’s Isobel Cup championship season in 2016-17 and has skated in 40 career games to date with 18 total points to her credit.
“I have always enjoyed my time in Buffalo,” said Chesson. “From our fans to working with our amazing staff, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about returning for a fifth season in Buffalo.”
Caty Flagg | G
Goaltender Caty Flagg returns after serving in the club’s backup role as a rookie in 2020-21. She dressed in all six regular-season games in Lake Placid behind Carly Jackson and stopped nine of the 11 shots she faced in her single relief appearance.
“In the Beauts organization we strive for a strong family-oriented culture,” said Beauts head coach Rhea Coad. “Caty is part of the core of our culture. Her drive to be the best teammate that she can be is honorable, and it is why we are so excited to have Caty back!”
Erin Gehen | F
Buffalo State College all-time leading scorer Erin Gehen returns for a third season with her hometown Beauts. In 30 games over two seasons, the West Seneca native has produced 16 points including seven goals and nine assists.
“Gehen is a coach’s dream come true in many ways,” said Beauts GM Nate Oliver. “She’ll do whatever it takes to win and she battles valiantly, game in and game out. She has great acceleration and tends to find openings where she can get a break-in on the goalie.”
Emma Keenan | D
Defender Emma Keenan will make her NWHL debut with the Beauts in Season 7 after signing a free agent contract with the team. The two-time NCAA champion with Clarkson University played the past two seasons in the SDHL with Göteborg HC where she amassed 22 points over 66 games in two seasons.
“I chose to sign with the Beauts because I feel the program has a great culture with tons of support and a strong fanbase,” said Keenan. “I’m excited to live in Buffalo and for the opportunity to play in the NWHL. I think the Beauts have a lot of potential for this upcoming season, and I’m excited to be part of a program that has big aspirations.”
Dominique Kremer | D
The Beauts bolstered their blue line with the re-signing of NWHL sophomore Dominique Kremer who returns after suiting up in all six of the team’s games in Lake Placid. She previously skated for Djurgårdens IF in Sweden’s SDHL where her 16 points led the club in points from defense in 2019-20
“Getting the opportunity to play for the Buffalo Beauts for another season is such a blessing,” said Kremer. “It’s a chance to play in front of my family, friends, fans, and God, which is super exciting! I love the team, the staff, and the organization, and I am ecstatic to be part of it all once again.”
The Beauts leading goal scorer Autumn MacDougall will be returning for a sophomore season after tallying three times in six games as a rookie. Chosen 14th overall in 2020, the University of Alberta product made history a year ago as the first player ever selected from a U SPORTS program.
“It means a great deal to me that I have the opportunity to return to the Beauts for Season 7,” said MacDougall. “I know that the Beauts have a lot more to give this season, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we are going to do.”
Hanna Beattie | D
Familiarity and stability return to the Whale’s defense corps with veteran Hanna Beattie signing on for her fifth NWHL season. Over 54 career games, the former Williams College captain and 2020 All-Star has produced six points while regularly shutting down many of the opposition’s top lines.
“I have had so much fun being part of this organization over the past four years and can’t wait to see what we accomplish this season. Between the effort, heart, and grit that this team possesses, and the dedication and passion of our staff, I know big things are in store for us,” said Beattie. “I look forward to getting back on the ice and seeing everyone in Danbury soon!”
Abbie Ives | G
The Whale return goaltender Abbie Ives between-the-pipes in 2021-22 after a solid rookie season where she posted a 2.01 goals-against-average and a .936 save percentage in four games. Her professional career follows four seasons of NCAA action for the Quinnipiac Bobcats.
“We are very excited to have Abbie back this season. We only got to see a small sample size of what she is capable of in Lake Placid,” said Whale head coach Colton Orr. “Her love of hockey is apparent as she is always looking to be on the ice and finding ways to improve her game. Abbie is a very athletic goalie with size, speed, and confidence. We are looking forward to seeing what she can do throughout an entire season.”
Kennedy Marchment | F
The second overall pick in the 2017 NWHL Draft will make her league debut following three seasons competing in Sweden. Kennedy Marchment, a former St. Lawrence University star, is the Whale’s first new acquisition of the off-season having most recently played for HV71 where she produced an impressive 72 points in just 34 regular-season games.
“I’m so excited and grateful to have the opportunity to continue my professional hockey career for the Connecticut Whale in the NWHL,” said Marchment. “I have heard nothing but good things about the Whale organization as a whole, making my decision to come to Connecticut very easy.”
Allie Munroe | D
Defender Allie Munroe is the club’s second free agent signing of the off-season having spent the past two seasons with Djurgårdens IF in Sweden. The former Syracuse Orange standout played in 68 career SDHL regular games where she collected 17 points.
“I’m so honored and excited to be a part of the Connecticut Whale for season 7 in the NWHL! Coach Orr and the entire Whale staff have made it an easy decision,” said Munroe. “I can’t wait to meet all my new teammates and have the opportunity to compete for the Isobel Cup.”
Emma Vlasic | F
Offensive stalwart Emma Vlasic returns to The Pod for a third season and has quickly become a team leader on and off the ice. The alternate captain was second in team scoring in Season 6 with a goal and three assists over four regular-season games and was relied on heavily in the face-off circle and on special teams.
“I am excited to be returning to the Whale for next season,” said Vlasic. “Really looking forward to getting back on the ice with my teammates and continuing to work towards our pursuit of the Isobel Cup.”
Madison Packer | F
To no surprise, the Riveters first announced the signing of the off-season was securing captain Madison Packer who returns for a seventh NWHL season. One of the league’s longest-tenured players, Packer holds franchise records in all major categories among skaters including games played with 87, points with 85, goals with 42, assists with 43, and penalty minutes with 143.
“New season. New look. Same grit. Excited for another run at the Isobel Cup,” Packer tweeted.
Maegan Beres | F
After making history with eight selections in the 2021 NWHL Draft, the Six officially signed their top pick Maegan Beres to a 2021-22 professional contract. The forward was also the top Canadian chosen third overall in the annual selection process from Boston College where the Vancouver native served as captain during her senior season.
“I’m extremely excited to join an organization that allows me to help pave the way for the next generations of girls, while furthering my athletic career,” Beres said. “I can’t wait to play with The Six in the NWHL and continue to grow the game.”
Elaine Chuli | G
The goaltender who backstopped the expansion Six to a regular-season title has re-signed for a second NWHL season. Elaine Chuli saw action in six games during the Lake Placid competition and put together a record of 4-1-0 while adding one shutout for a goals-against-average of 1.61 and save percentage of .936.
“It means so much, especially as you get older, you never really know when your last season is gonna be,” said Chuli. “I’m just trying to be in the present and I’m just grateful for one more season at least, and I’m training for it and excited and ready to go.”
The NWHL’s reigning MVP and Newcomer of the Year Mikyla Grant-Mentis returns to her hometown team where she had a breakout campaign tying for the league lead in Lake Placid scoring amassing nine points in six games including a league-high five goals. Her post-season accolades also included a NWHL Foundation Award and was one of the Fans’ 3 Stars of the season.
“It was important for me to re-sign because first, we didn’t win the cup, which is definitely something we want to do next year, and we never really got to play at home, so I haven’t really played in my hometown yet, and that’s really what I wanted to do, so I had to sign to make sure I can do that for next year,” Grant-Mentis said.
Saroya Tinker | D
The biggest free-agency splash of the off-season thus far has been defender Saroya Tinker joining her hometown team after a rookie campaign as a member of the Riveters. The Yale graduate and fourth overall pick in the 2020 NWHL Draft made an immediate impact at the next level both on and off the ice voted the league’s Denna Laing Award recipient and joined Grant-Mentis as one of the league’s six Foundation Award winners.
“I really loved seeing the Toronto Six [in Lake Placid] and realizing that’s my hometown and realizing I might be missing out on a few things in terms of fans and my family from Toronto,” said Tinker. “I thought that it would be the best decision to sign with the Six and play close to my hometown.”
Taylor Woods | F
Forward Taylor Woods returns for her second season with the Six after finishing second in team scoring with five points including four goals. The Manitoba native is no stranger to the Greater Toronto Area having played three CWHL seasons between Brampton and Markham where she won a Clarkson Cup and a single PWHPA campaign prior to NWHL expansion north of the border.
“We started something really good, it’s turning into something big,” said Woods. “You can just see that now we have the opportunity to play at home, there’s a full season, and you start to see things changing shape. So of course, why wouldn’t I want to come back to the T6 under that great atmosphere. That’s where I saw it being a no-brainer for me.”
The salary cap for the 2021-22 season has been announced as $300,000 per team which is the highest in league history. Financial terms of individual player contracts will not be disclosed.