Rumours swirled and were quickly confirmed yesterday when six new PWHL accounts popped up online.
Today, we got official news that the PWHL is set to get underway and that the city of Ottawa will join Toronto, Montreal, New York, Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul as the original six franchises in the newly formed league.
In today's press conference, we learned more details on the league. Here are some key dates to keep an eye on:
- Sept. 1: Initial Free Agency Opens
- Sept. 3: Draft Declaration Deadline
- Sept. 10: Initial Free Agency Ends
- Sept. 18: PWHL Draft
When Free Agency opens on Friday, each team will be eligible to sign a maximum of three players. This list of players appears to be completely open, with the exception of current and graduating college players who are not eligible. Each team will have nine days to shore up those three contracts. I'd expect this is where we'll see the biggest names in the game ink their deals.
On September 3rd, all players who intend to be available for the 2023 PWHL Draft on September 18th will have to have declared their intention to do so. This will give all six franchises fifteen days to create their official draft orders to be ready for the 18th - although I imagine much of this work has already been completed. For the draft itself, there will be 15 rounds and it will be done in your classic fantasy hockey snake format. If you're unfamiliar, this means that whichever team ends up picking 6th will also pick 7th. Whereas the team with the top pick will have to wait for all the other teams to pick twice before they make their second selection 12th overall.
Following the draft, Free Agency will reopen. Teams will be capped at signing 20 players to standard player agreements.
Training camps will open in November.
Lots of questions remain unanswered about Ottawa's PWHL team. For example, we don't know what the team will be called, what colours they will wear or even which arena they will call home. What we do know, however, is that the city of Ottawa is an underrated hockey market. This city will love the opportunity to see the best of the best battle it out. Those iconic players we love watching at the World Championships and Olympics will be suiting up for or against your Ottawa [Insert Team Name Here] and we'll get the opportunity to see that live.
Get excited, Ottawa hockey fans! There's even more hockey coming your way.
Other Key Notes:
- The PWHL is well supported financially and through a board of directors which includes big names like Billie Jean King, Stan Kasten (LA Dodgers President) and sports executive Ilana Kloss.
- Brian Burke has been confirmed as the inaugural Executive Director fo the PWHL Players Association.
- Team names, logos, uniforms and more are expected in the coming months but have yet to be finalized.
- The PWHL is not setting an age or college requirement for the league - something the WNBA, for example, has in place - which means if a young hockey player wants to turn pro at the age of 18 without having suited up in the NCAA, they'll be able to declare themselves eligible for the draft.
- While the original six announcement mentions "New York", the league has not confirmed where exactly the team will play. It could be in New York City itself, but they've left it open ended by calling it the "New York area". It's possible this team ends up playing out of any number of arenas in the area, including out of New Jersey.
- General Managers have yet to be named but the league has stated they're close to the end of that process. The ideal scenario sees the league announcing those six GMs ahead of Free Agency on Friday.
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