Todays SlapShot

NWHL

Which Boston Pride practice players have earned a roster spot?

Casey Pickett and Micaela Long at NWHL Boston Pride at Connecticut Whale 12/27/2015. Mandatory Photo Credit Kaitlin S. Cimini

Apr. 1 was the start of a restricted free agency period for the NWHL, where teams get first crack at re-signing their roster players, draft picks from the previous season and at deciding whether practice players proved themselves valuable enough to earn a roster position for the 2016-17 season.

By the time May 1 rolls around, which of these practice players will have been offered a permanent spot on the Boston Pride?

Meagan Mangene

Strengths

Mangene’s strengths and weaknesses are difficult to evaluate given that we only saw six games out of her on the Pride. Boston had such a deep roster that practice players who would have been second- or third-line players in any other franchise, rarely saw ice time at all.

Despite that, when Mangene stepped in for Bellamy – and she was the go-to to replace Bellamy whenever coaching obligations arose – she was a strong defense-first defender who made smart decisions with the puck, with an even strength Scoring Chances For percentage of 64.08 percent, meaning Boston owned the puck the majority of the time when Mangene was on the ice. The percentage is likely pumped up by the situations in which Mangene was deployed as well as her low number of games played, but it still rings in higher than approximately a third of the team.

Weaknesses

The biggest difficulty with Mangene is her lack of offensive production. In six games Mangene produced only eight shots on goal and one assist. That is not a bad percentage for a defender, but it comes in sharp contrast to the player she was filling in for: Kacey Bellamy.

Did she earn a roster spot?

Bellamy is so valuable to the Pride and to Team USA because she is a strong blend of offensive and defensive; she notched 14 points over 12 games and scored multiple goals herself from the point. Comparing a player to Bellamy will leave almost anyone wanting, meaning Mangene will likely not find herself in a roster position next season unless someone moves on from the Pride or Mangene herself does.

 

Cherie Hendrickson

Zoe Hickel, Cherie Hendrickson congratulate Brittany Ott on a series won. NWHL Buffalo Beauts vs Boston Pride, Isobel Cup Finals, March 11-12, 2016, Newark, New Jersey. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini

Zoe Hickel, Cherie Hendrickson congratulate Brittany Ott on a series won. NWHL Buffalo Beauts vs Boston Pride, Isobel Cup Finals, March 11-12, 2016, Newark, New Jersey. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kaitlin S. Cimini

Strengths

Hendrickson also saw a strong Even Strength Scoring Chances For percentage at 64.4 percent. Though she only stepped on the ice for two games, the number is strong enough that, if she were to look outside of Boston for a position, teams particularly light on defenders might be interested in making her an offer.

Weaknesses

Hendrickson, a defender’s defender, didn’t net a single point for the Pride, though she did put two shots on net over the course of her three games. She, similarly to Mangene, cannot compete offensively with the players she subbed in for, though given more time on the ice it is likely her points percentage would rise.

Did she earn a roster spot?

Hendrickson might have to look outside the Boston market to find a permanent spot on an NWHL roster. The Boston team is extremely deep, filled with national team players who are exceptionally gifted when it comes to both offense and defense.

 

Casey Pickett

Strengths

The opportunity to evaluate Pickett fairly is not truly there. Pickett was iced in only seven games on the Pride, and while she had a Corsi For percentage of 68.18 percent (through Feb. 14), indicating very positive puck possession while she was on the ice, there is no way of knowing how accurate that is at predicting her impact on possession over the course of a season.

Weaknesses

The sample size. According to the advanced statistics site run by Carolyn Wilke, Pickett earned one assist during her games played; according to the NWHL’s stats site Pickett was not awarded an assist. As the NWHL has historically had discrepancies in its numbers, it is prudent to assume Wilke’s statistics are correct.

Did she earn a roster spot?

Like Mangene and Hendrickson, Pickett should look outside of Boston for a rostered (and salaried) position. It’s unlikely she’ll find it on Boston and we have no real way of knowing what Pickett is capable of with the statistics available.

Denna Laing

As a practice player, Laing cannot be left off this list, but she also cannot be evaluated on the same scale as Pickett, Mangene and Hendrickson.

After playing only two games with the Boston Pride, Laing suffered a traumatic spinal injury on the ice at the Outdoor Women’s Classic on Dec. 31 of 2015 and consequently lost feeling below her chest. Since then, Laing has been a rallying point for the Pride, who were deeply affected by the injury to their teammate and friend and have gone out of their way to support her publicly and privately.

Laing is currently rehabilitating and posts about her journey on the Denna Laing Team Facebook page; donations can be sent to her through DennaLaing.org.

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