Last season the New York Riveters frequently found themselves outclassed in possession and talent. General manager Chad Wiseman has a lot of work to do this offseason in improving the league’s flagship franchise and a big part of that will be adding key free agents.
Here are five unrestricted free agents that Wiseman should look to add to the Riveters’ roster this offseason.
Shiann Darkangelo, Connecticut Whale
Darkangelo was one of the NWHL’s biggest break-out stars of the 2015-16 season with her 10 goals in 13 games. Darkangel0 made $17,000 last season with the Whale, but given how dangerous and productive she was a case could be made for her to see a raise in her second NWHL season.
The Riveters could use a player that showed Darkangelo’s ability to finish and create problems for the opposition’s defense in the offensive zone. Could she be tempted to follow in the footsteps of Kaleigh Fratkin and Jamie Leonoff and leave the Whale to join the Riveters? Wiseman will almost certainly be trying to make it happen after landing two of the Whale’s biggest stars.
Kourtney Kunichika, Buffalo Beauts
Smart, driven, talented, and underrated, if Kunichika can be lured away from the Beauts and brought to New York she could be a big difference-maker for the Riveters. Despite being an unselfish player in Buffalo, Kunichika finished the season with nine goals and was almost a point-per-game player last season.
What stands out most about Kunichika is how complete her game is and how special she is away from the puck. No matter the situation, the former RIT Tiger is a woman you want on the ice, especially when the game is on the line. Kunichika made the league minimum last season and can easily demand a significant pay raise given how special she was for Buffalo in the 2015-16 season.
Jordan Brickner, Connecticut Whale
Only Fratkin scored more points on Connecticut’s blue line than Brickner did last season. Brickner was not exactly the offensive dynamo that Fratkin was, with just 11 shots and no goals in the regular season, but she picked up 12 assists while proving throughout the season that she could be relied upon to play big minutes.
An NWHL All-Star, Brickner has good size, strength, and skating ability and deserves to make significantly more than the $10,000 she made last season. Some new blood on the blue line that can move the puck would be a welcome addition to Wiseman’s Riveters roster.
Zoe Hickel, Boston Pride
With big names like Brittany Ott, Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Alex Carpenter, and Kendall Coyne to sign, a lot of the Boston Pride’s depth, especially among their forwards, could be lost to free agency in the offseason. Hickel, who made $16,000 last season, is a key forward that the Pride might have trouble creating cap space for.
Hickel had just seven points last season, but she scored one goal and three assists in four playoff games with Boston. With all of her ties to team USA it would be hard to lure her away from the Pride, but the Riveters could certainly use her skill and energy.
Blake Bolden, Boston Pride
There may not be a better skater among the NWHL’s defenders than Bolden. A former Boston Blade, Bolden has strong ties to the Boston area and the Pride roster, but the Riveters, Whale, and Beauts would be foolish to not pursue her in free agency this offseason.
Perhaps ones of the most underrated players in the league, Bolden has the talent to join the rush and create offense with her ability to move the puck while being a staunch defender in her own zone. Bolden made $15,000 last season with the Pride, but the Riveters could likely offer her more to try on a different jersey next season in New York.