Second-line center Kourtney Kunichika and fourth-round draft pick Emily Janiga have signed contracts with the Buffalo Beauts for the 2016-17 season, General Manager Ric Seiling announced Monday afternoon. Janiga and the Beauts agreed to terms on a one-year, $12,000 contract. Kunichika and the Beauts agreed to terms on a one-year, $11,000 contract.
Kunichika’s linemates, Devon Skeats and Hailey Browne, signed with the Beauts for $14,000 each. Kunichika earned the second-most points on her team during the regular season, posting 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) and a 0.94 points-per-game average. She added another assist in the playoffs.
Some players, like Jaimie Leonoff, have taken deliberately low salaries in order to ensure the team they played for could lure big-name players to sign with the roster.
“I feel blessed to be a part of the Buffalo Beauts organization again,” said Kunichika. “After last season, there’s no beating the fanbase and support of Buffalo. I’m excited for another chance to compete for the Isobel Cup and play alongside great players and staff.”
Janiga, a forward out of Mercyhurst University, was drafted 16 overall in the 2015 NWHL Junior Draft by Buffalo. With the Lakers, she collected 151 points (72 goals, 79 assists) in 141 games, and was invited to USA Hockey’s National Festival in 2014.
“Playing professionally in my home town was only a dream growing up, but now that has changed,” said Janiga. “I can’t even explain in words how exciting it is to fulfill this dream. I am excited to be back in my home town to play the sport I love with the support of my family. I am completely honored and humbled by this opportunity!”
Restricted free agency began April 1 and lasted until April 30. Free agency began May 1 and lasts until July 31. The 2016 NWHL Draft is June 18.