Sports

Wealth of veteran worldwide expertise up for grabs in 2024 PWHL draft

Daniela Pejšová has spent years watching the NHL draft and feeling excited for the boys who get to have their draft second.

However she at all times wished she may dream about being drafted.

On Monday, the Czech defender will get that likelihood. She’ll get to stroll throughout the stage and pull on a sweater from the PWHL crew that chooses her. It is a second she’ll journey internationally to expertise.

“Typically it is exhausting to consider that it is true,” Pejšová stated. “I am very excited.”

Forty-two gamers will hear their identify referred to as in the course of the seven-round PWHL draft on Monday in St. Paul, Minn. The draft, which shall be streamed on the league’s YouTube channel, begins at 7 p.m. ET.

WATCH | Previewing the 2024 PWHL draft on CBC Sports activities’ Hockey North:

2024 PWHL draft preview present

Host Rob Pizzo is joined by CBC Sports activities reporter Karissa Donkin to interrupt down every little thing you could know forward of Monday night time’s draft.

New York will choose first, adopted by Ottawa, Minnesota, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. That order, which is predicated on regular-season standings, will repeat over all seven rounds.

Greater than 160 gamers have declared themselves for the draft and shall be eligible to be chosen, together with gamers from 19 nations. 

It is a key step within the PWHL’s objective to draw one of the best expertise from internationally. Girls from 10 nations performed within the league final season.

“Gamers are getting higher and gamers are coming from in all places these days,” stated American nationwide crew defender and prime draft prospect Cayla Barnes, who grew up in California. “You see it at ladies’s worlds. Groups are getting higher. Video games are shut. It is superb to see.”

Shifting internationally

Pejšová performed for powerhouse Luleå Hockey within the Swedish Girls’s Hockey League (SDHL) final season and gained a league championship. She additionally performs on the Czech Republic nationwide crew, and is predicted to be chosen in the primary two or three rounds of Monday’s draft.

Pejšová did not plan to return to Luleå subsequent season. Because the inaugural PWHL season went on and he or she watched from afar, she saved desirous about the potential for shifting to North America.

Two female hockey players battle for a puck.
Czech defender Daniela Pejšová (4) battles for a puck in world championship motion in 2023. Pejšová could possibly be the youngest participant competing within the PWHL subsequent season. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

It was encouragement from her greatest buddy, PWHL Montreal defender Dominika Lásková, who satisfied her to take the subsequent step and declare for the draft.

Pejšová, who turns 22 in August, could possibly be the youngest participant to compete within the PWHL subsequent season.

‘A dream come true’

The draft is not simply the best way into the PWHL for younger and rising gamers. Veteran gamers who’d prefer to enter the league should undergo the draft, too.

That features 26-year-old Ronja Savolainen, who performed on Luleå’s blueline alongside Pejšová this previous season, logging 29 factors in 35 video games. Savolainen has eight years {of professional} hockey with Luleå beneath her belt.

At five-foot-10, she’ll convey dimension, pace and grit to a PWHL’s crew’s defence subsequent season.

“It will be a dream come true to play in one of the best league on this world,” Savolainen stated. “I am simply so pleased with myself that I took the step. It was exhausting to say goodbye to Luleå however I believe that is one of the best for me and one of the best for my hockey profession, to maneuver on.”

A hockey player falls on the ice in front of the boards.
Savolainen (88) appears to be like ahead to seeing what influence physicality can have on the smaller ice floor within the PWHL. (Petr David Josek/The Related Press)

Gamers coming from the SDHL and different European leagues shall be enjoying on a smaller ice floor. With much less room to manoeuvre, Savolainen is anticipating to have much less time to make choices in video games the place physicality can have extra influence.

As she watched PWHL highlights this season, Finnish ahead Noora Tulus instantly noticed a sooner and extra bodily fashion of play, pointing to speedy Montreal ahead Laura Stacey as a barometer of the league’s tempo.

“I would like to organize myself for it,” stated 28-year-old Tulus, who led the Swedish league in factors this previous season. “I really feel I would like to return there with my recreation fashion and I have to belief what I can do on the ice and go along with my strengths.”

Different prime worldwide prospects who’ve declared for the draft embrace Austrian ahead Anna Meixner, Swedish defender Maja Nylén Persson and Czech ahead Klára Hymlárová, amongst others.

Having extra expertise from internationally is nice for the PWHL, but in addition for these gamers’ residence nations.

Savolainen expects video games in opposition to Canada or the USA at Olympics or world championships to get tighter as gamers on her crew transfer into the PWHL. Boston’s Susanna Tapani was the one Finnish participant within the PWHL final season.

“I believe we are able to beat them sooner or later if we simply get extra gamers on the opposite aspect of the [world in the PWHL] and sort of play in opposition to these greatest gamers that we solely get a number of occasions every year with the nationwide crew,” Savolainen stated.

Swedish league a PWHL growth hub?

Thirty-one gamers from the Swedish Girls’s Hockey League declared for the draft this 12 months. Thought of the second-best ladies’s hockey league on this planet behind the PWHL, it may additionally grow to be a growth hub for PWHL gamers.

The PWHL would not have a growth league, which creates a spot for gamers who get drafted however do not make a roster and want to maintain enjoying and creating. Jayna Hefford, the PWHL’s senior vice-president of hockey operations, has stated that discovering an answer to that downside is on the prime of the league’s to-do listing.

The SDHL could possibly be a part of that answer. On Thursday, Toronto GM Gina Kingsbury stated her crew is in talks to work with European golf equipment that share her crew’s philosophy and values, although she did not point out any particular groups.

“Not that we’d implement an athlete that is drafted by us that would not make our crew to to go abroad,” Kingsbury stated.

“However having these alternatives in entrance of them and having the ability to to assist information them in that sense I believe is one vital a part of planning and the imaginative and prescient of our group for the longer term.”

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