Emerance Maschmeyer wants to play professional hockey.
That’s the main takeaway from Thursday’s news of her signing up to be considered for the 2016 CWHL Draft, after having been the Boston Pride’s first-round 2015 NWHL Draft pick.
In doing so, Maschmeyer violated no rules or regulations, nothing is barring her from signing with an NWHL team if she so chooses; the NWHL draft is non-binding and players rights are not retained by the league when drafted as that would violate NCAA rules and regulations.
The NWHL Junior Draft (so named because they will only draft juniors in a four-year college) is a statement of interest by the league and by the teams. It is akin to a someone calling dibs on the front seat in a car: only a guarantee when everyone else in the car lets it slide and in this case, the car’s seat must agree, too.
Is that not how dibs works? Well, that’s not how typical pro league drafts work, either, so bear with me.
In contrast to the NWHL’s version of calling dibs is the CWHL’s draft, which is similarly neutered. In the CWHL, players declare for the draft after reaching the age of 20 and are no longer committed to an NCAA or CIS program. As such, players typically declare for the draft after graduating college, though occasional exceptions have been made for truly gifted players.
A third criteria for eligibility with the CWHL is that a player must not have already been drafted by a team in an entry draft; however this applies only to CWHL drafts. If a player is drafted by the NWHL they can still be drafted by the CWHL.
Once declaring, players select three different teams they would be interested in being drafted by. It’s rare that players do not get their top choice, as the league doesn’t pay its players. With franchises scattered as widely as from Boston, Mass. to Calgary, AB. it cannot force players to move for a part-time, non-paying gig.
By a lot of luck and because its eight years of existence lend it credibility among Hockey Canada players and former NCAA and CIS players, the CWHL has, for the most part, maintained league parity.
From the CWHL’s press release regarding its draft sign up:
Being drafted is the first step towards playing in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. All drafted prospects are invited to attend the training camp of their respective teams in September and vie for a spot on the team’s 25-player roster.
The CWHL’s draft registration fee will cover inclusion in the draft, attendance at the draft for those declared as amongst the draft class top picks and attendance at their respective team’s training camp in September. Players who meet all criteria and have registered prior to midnight Aug. 1, including payment, will be eligible this year as a draft pick.
The 2016 CWHL Entry Draft will take place Aug. 21, 2016 in Toronto.
If we extend our poorly-constructed metaphor to the CWHL calling dibs as well, we remember the car seat must also agree to the calling of dibs. The CWHL makes it clear that declaring for its draft is not a guarantee of a place on a team, true. But as we saw last year, not all who are drafted choose to join the CWHL.
Hayley Browne, a Canadian forward out of the University of Maine, registered for the 2015 CWHL Entry Draft and was drafted by the Brampton Thunder. Instead, she ended up signing with the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts and playing out the season on its second line with Devon Skeats and Kourtney Kunichika, ending the season at the Isobel Cup Finals.
As such, Maschmeyer is not binding herself to the CWHL either with this act.
Technicalities aside, Maschmeyer’s declaration for the CWHL draft does seem to indicate she’s leaning towards the Canadian league. It became clear last year through a series of articles on Canadian NWHL players that Hockey Canada was unsure that the NWHL would be able to provide enough competition to keep its players in top form and was encouraging them to stay with the CWHL, at least for the time being.
As a part of Hockey Canada, Maschmeyer may have that thought in mind as she looks to the future.
Additionally, Maschmeyer is orginally from Alberta. The closest post-collegiate franchise near her is the Calgary Inferno of the CWHL; the NWHL doesn’t have a club anywhere near her hometown. If she were to stay in Boston the choice might come down to the Pride or the CWHL’s Boston Blades but if she’s determined to head home, the Inferno, this season’s Clarkson Cup champions, may be the preferable option for her.