The six teams in the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) will have more than 180 players attend the league’s first training camps in November, the PWHL announced on Monday.
Those camps will mark the first time players and coaches in the new league get on the ice together as they push toward January 2024, when the league is supposed to start its first season.
Training camps for all six teams will open on Nov. 15, a few days after the Canadian and American national teams play two Rivalry Series games in Arizona and Los Angeles. Teams must have final rosters set by Dec. 11, just before the Rivalry Series resumes with games in Kitchener, Ont. and Sarnia, Ont. on Dec. 14 and 16.
When setting rosters, each team is required to have 23 players signed to standard player contracts, plus two additional players to reserve contracts.
According to the PWHL collective bargaining agreement, standard player contracts must be for a minimum of $35,000 US. Teams can’t sign more than nine players to minimum contracts, and the average annual base salary on each team is supposed to be $55,000.
The camp rosters include players signed as free agents prior to the league’s first draft, as well as players who were drafted and those who weren’t drafted, but who received invitations to training camps.
Each team is required to have at least 28 players in camp, and three teams — Montreal, Ottawa and New York — invited more than 30 players.
Claire Thompson, Mikyla Grant-Mentis among notable camp invitees
Undrafted camp invitees include current and former Canadian and American national team stars, and leading scorers in the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation (PHF).
Team Canada defender Claire Thompson will attend camp with New York. Thompson set an Olympic record for most points by a defender (13) on the way to winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
She’s attending medical school in New York, so it’s not clear how regularly she might be able to play for a PWHL team, though Thompson did attend every stop on the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) Dream Gap Tour circuit last season.
Former PHF MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis was invited to camp with Ottawa, after logging 21 points in 24 games with the last-place Buffalo Beauts in the PHF in 2022-23.
The forward made headlines after signing an $80,000 US contract with the Beauts last season, then one of the richest contracts for a professional female hockey player in North America. She was due to make $100,000 in the PHF this upcoming season before the league was sold and shut down.
Ottawa also invited forward Becca Gilmore, who won a world championship with the American national team this past spring. She scored six points in 11 games for the PHF’s Boston Pride last season, her first in the league.
U.S. Olympic gold medallist Maddie Rooney will be one of four goaltenders vying for a job in Minnesota, after Minnesota chose to select two other goalies in the draft. Rooney played for Team Adidas in the PWHPA last season.
The most interesting goaltending picture might be in Toronto, a team that didn’t sign any goalies as free agents and only selected one netminder — Team Canada gold medallist and third goaltender, Kristen Campbell — in the draft.
Three camp invitees will compete for jobs in Toronto: Erica Howe and Amanda Mäkelä, who both played with the PWHPA last season, and Carly Jackson, who just won an Isobel Cup with the PHF’s Toronto Six.
Waiver periods will allow teams to sign released, undrafted players
Teams will have to cut training camp rosters down to no more than 27 players by Nov. 29. That will be followed by a three-day waiver window, where undrafted, released players could be offered a contract by a different team.
A second waiver window will open from Dec. 8 to 10, just before teams must finalize their final rosters.
It’s not yet clear where teams will hold training camps. The league hasn’t announced where each team will practice or play games, but PWHL board member Stan Kasten told CBC last week that the information should be coming “in the next few weeks or so.”
Kasten also told CBC that teams are expected to have names prior to puck drop, but there’s less certainty around team logos.
“We will certainly have team names,” he said. “I don’t know about logos. But we’ll see. We might. We might surprise everyone. Or we might not surprise everyone.”
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