Ottawa Builds Strong Blueline in Inaugural PWHL Draft

Recapping the big surprises and major storylines from Ottawa's draft day!

Ottawa Builds Strong Blueline in Inaugural PWHL Draft
Photo by Chris DeSort / Unsplash

The inaugural PWHL draft was held in Toronto yesterday, with each team selecting 15 new players to add to their roster. The whole event was a highly entertaining affair, with several off-the-board picks, that really showed how far women’s hockey has come in recent years.

In the days leading up to the draft, there was considerable debate within women’s hockey circles about draft rankings. Comparing players from multiple different leagues, and all of different ages, is no small task, and there was so much talent available in the draft that in the first few rounds it was virtually impossible for teams to go wrong.

In fact, my main takeaway from the draft is that while I was ready to see my favourite players go to my favourite team, I was unprepared for how difficult it would be to see many more of my favourite players go to the five other teams I will not be supporting. Check in on the women’s hockey fans in your life. We’re going through it.

Here’s the list of players Ottawa selected, with their position, birth year, nationality and the last league they played for. I’ve also linked their elite prospects pages.

Savannah Harmon (D) 1995, USA, PWHPA

Ashton Bell (D) 1999, Canada, NCAA

Jincy Dunne (D) 1997, USA, PWHPA

Gabbie Hughes (F) 1999, USA, NCAA

Hayley Scamurra (F) 1994, USA, PWHPA

Daryl Watts (F) 1999, Canada, PHF

Aneta Tejralová (D) 1996, Czechia, PHF

Katerina Mrázová (F) 1992, Czechia, PHF

Zoe Boyd (D) 2000, Canada, NCAA

Kristin Della Rovere (F) 2000, Canada, NCAA

Lexi Adzija (F) 2000, Canada, NCAA

Sandra Abstreiter (G) 1998, Germany, NCAA

Amanda Boulier (D) 1993, USA, PHF

Caitrin Lonergan (F) 1997, USA, PHF

Audrey-Anne Veillette (F) 2000, Canada, U Sports

Full profiles of the players  will come later, but for now here are some of the main takeaways from Ottawa at the draft.

Not just sticking to the National Team

Everyone expected Ottawa to draft Ambrose and Rattray with their first two picks, so it was a huge shock when they went a different route, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad decision.

I actually think it’s cool that we’re seeing teams make decisions based purely on hockey skills and not what’s best for the players or the future of the sport. I was slightly worried that Ottawa would just stick to the Canadian Olympic players because those are the easy choices, and so I actually trust their decision to go a different direction more.

We’ve got lots of Americans, a few Czechs, and even a German goalie! She follows Tim Stützle on Instagram, so maybe she’s a Sens fan.

Focusing on defense

I wrote in my preview that I hoped Ottawa would target some younger players instead of sticking to the Team Canada veterans, and that’s exactly what they did, especially on defense.

I still think they should have gone with Jaques with one of their first two picks, but like I said, there are no bad picks with this much talent available, and so they were always going to leave a few big names on the board.

Ottawa kicked things off with 27-year-old American Olympian Savannah Harmon, who’s one of the best two-way defenders in women’s hockey and will have no trouble taking on first-pairing minutes. They followed that up with a young, up-and-coming blueliner in Ashton Bell and American Olympian Jincy Dunne. I’ve also heard that Amanda Boulier is a great puck-mover. They’re building a mobile defense that can move the puck well and make things happen offensively, with a group of players just entering their primes. Get ready for some high-scoring games!

Losing out on Rattray sucks, but this defense is the silver lining, and I've heard that next year's forward class is supposed to be very good.

The coach’s impact

Many wondered if Ottawa hiring Carla McLeod as coach would mean that they’d draft a lot of Czech players, and that proved true in the 7th and 8th rounds, when Ottawa selected two members of the Czech national team, both of whom played in the PHF last year. I'm here for it!

PHF star power

One of the big questions heading into the draft was how the GMs would rank former members of the PHF, with many analysts expecting those players to be some of the biggest steals of the draft. Aside from the Czech players, Ottawa also landed one of the biggest names in the PHF, in Daryl Watts.

The quality of competition was not always great in the PHF, so I’m so interested to see not just how these top players compare to PWHPA and NCAA players, but also how much they end up improving in such a competitive league with so many more resources than the PHF had. Watts was also one of the top players in the NCAA a few years ago, and is still only 24 years old. She’s instantly one of the most intriguing storylines on this Ottawa team.

A new rivalry

A hockey team in Ottawa is guaranteed to have a rivalry with teams in Montreal and Toronto, but man, if Boston isn’t making a case for a rivalry right now.

Many of you know that I’ve been an Alina Müller stan for a long time, and was therefore devastated when Boston won the third overall pick and thus the rights to draft her. That was one thing, but also taking Sophie Jaques, who I desperately wanted Ottawa to draft at fifth, was just unnecessary, and following it up with Kanata legend Jamie Lee Rattray cemented their place as our rivals. Fuck Boston.

Looking ahead

The draft plus free agency puts Ottawa at 10 forwards, 6 defenders and 2 goalies. They'll have to use training camp invites to fill out the last remaining roster spots. Carly Jackson, maybe?

Here's what the roster looks like at the moment, just based on position and draft order:

Hughes - Clark - Jenner
Scamurra - Watts - Lonergan
Adzija - Mrázová - Veillette
Della Rovere

Harmon - Bell
Dunne - Tejralová
Boyd - Boulier


Not everyone can afford to pay for sports coverage right now, and that is why we will keep as much of the site's content free for as long as we can.

But if you are able to, please consider subscribing to help keep our articles free (and get a few extra perks).

Erik Condra
  • Ability to comment and participate in our community
  • Twice monthly newsletter available only to subscribers
  • Ad-free reading
  • Our undying love and appreciation
Brady Tkachuk
  • Everything from the Erik Condra tier
  • 10% discount on all merch
  • Access to any future paywalled content
  • A personal thank-you from the Silver Seven staff
Daniel Alfredsson
  • Everything from the Brady Tkachuk tier
  • Inner peace knowing you are supporting quality, independent coverage of your favourite sports team