Now that it’s May, every player from last season officially becomes a “free agent” and can sign with any team of their choosing. We’ve already seen core players like Kaleigh Fratkin and Jaimie Leonoff leave their former team to sign with a new one, and all sign indicates that it might not be unexpected to see new faces on each team’s roster this season.
In a perfect world, GM Hayley Moore would be able to re-sign all of her players from last year, because the Isobel Cup champions were an extremely strong team. In reality, that’s likely not going be the case, but it’s possible that Moore could snag some other players to make the Pride even stronger.
Who are the top five players that should be topping Moore’s list?
This one’s a bit of a pipe dream, but ever since Duggan announced that she wouldn’t be returning as an assistant coach for Clarkson University, a position she’s held for the last two years, speculation that she might not return to the Beauts next season has started to surface.
It would be a big hit for a Beauts team that looked infinitely better when Duggan was on the ice for them, but if she does choose to pick another team, why not Boston with the majority of her national teammates? Assuming they all re-sign there, of course. Duggan’s spent time in Boston before as a member of the Blades in the CWHL, and it seems like the most logical choice, should she decide to choose a new team.
This one’s a no-brainer, right? Now that the RFA period is over, drafted players are now allowed to sign with whatever teams they choose.
That said, it’s even more imperative for the Pride to sign World Championship hero Alex Carpenter after news broke that Amanda Kessel signed with the New York Riveters. Carpenter would join an championship-winning Pride team, and though they might have to make some cap space for her to sign, Carpenter provides offensive firepower that has become a core part of the Pride’s identity.
Like Carpenter, Coyne is a player that would gain her team some cap space if she signed somewhere else, but there’s not enough money in the world that would compensate for Coyne’s talent on the ice. When playing for Team USA, Coyne is usually put on the top line alongside Brianna Decker and Hilary Knight, and to be able to replicate that line on the Pride would create the deadliest trio in the NWHL, and maybe in the world.
Coyne won’t come cheap, that’s for sure, but it’s imperative that Boston sign her, and sign her quickly before other teams try to pick her up.
Let’s face it — if all, or even most of the national team members return to the Pride, that’s going to be one expensive payroll for Moore to try and fit under the cap. That means one of two things has to happen: returning players will have to take some significant pay cuts or the Pride will have to sign some new players for bargain deals that might not be as skilled as the national team members.
Lindsay Berman is a key example of one of the latter.
Berman might not be a Bellamy or Marvin, but she had 51.61 even strength Corsi For percentage this season on the Whale, and can play some really solid defense. Her high puck-possesion numbers would fit in well on a puck-moving Boston team. She only played three games, according to the NWHL website, but if the Pride could sign her for the league minimum, it’s worth taking a chance on her.
Another one of the league’s more underrated players, Ward could be an excellent depth player for Boston, maybe playing along players like Rachel Llanes (should she return) or Jillian Dempsey. Ward had a 47.56 even strength Corsi For percentage on the Whale, but that was still one of the higher numbers on her team outside of players named Kelli Stack and Shiann Darkangelo.
She signed last year for a league minimum of $10,000, and if Boston could get her for that same amount, it could be some major help on the ice and with the salary cap.