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Why the 2024 PWHL Draft is dominated by defensive talent

The 2024 PWHL draft is focused on defensemen this year. Why? However, there are about 15 places open for defenders; however, there are around 25 very good players who could play in the PWHL next year. That is good for the league but it is difficult for the players. Last year, teams were looking for quarterbacks.

Players like Jocelyne Larocque, Ella Shelton, and others were taken early in the morning. With the 2024 Draft coming up, many teams will be looking for quarterbacks again.

But there are so many good ones at this time, some will not make it. It will be interesting to see who gets those places!

Top Prospects and Hidden Gems in the 2024 PWHL Draft

The 2024 PWHL draft promises to be an unprecedented event in terms of available defensive talent, heralding a major shift in team strategy as they enter hockey's finals and beyond. Among the top prospects predicted to dominate the opening rounds are Claire Thompson, Ronja Savolainen, Cayla Barnes, Daniela Pejsova, and Maja Nylen Persson, each bringing their own unique skills and ability to elevate the league's defensive game.

These athletes are expected to be followed closely by a second wave of strong talent, including Megan Carter, Allyson Simpson, Mae Batherson, and a list of others, including an impressive 23 linebackers. This influx of defensive power is enough to secure nearly four blueliners on each team, underscoring the depth of this draft class.

The abundance of talent creates a positive, albeit challenging, atmosphere for PWHL teams. Looking to shore up their defense for the tough demands of hockey's postseason and playoffs, the league finds itself in an unusual position. Despite the immediate benefit of such depth, the reality is that not every talented prospect will secure a spot, given the limited number of positions available on PWHL rosters. Current rosters feature a mix of veterans on multi-year contracts and up-and-coming stars on one-year deals, but depth in the draft exceeds real need.

The situation underscores a broader trend within the league. The wealth of talent available in the draft could see some players explore opportunities in other leagues, such as the SDHL and SWHL, especially those with exit clauses pending the draft. The 2024 PWHL draft isn't just about who is selected; it's about the negative impact these decisions have on players, teams, and the state of women's hockey as a whole.

The Impact of National Team Veterans on PWHL Defensive Strategy

The 2024 PWHL Draft showcases some very talented players who are sure to make it big in the league next year. Claire Thompson, Ronja Savolainen, Cayla Barnes, Maja Daniela Pejsova, and Nylen Persson are all big names entering the program. They are not just any players; they have already shown what they can do by playing for their national teams and in professional or international competitions. These players are so good that they are expected to be among the top four defensemen on any team they join in the PWHL.

Additionally, there are players like Megan Carter and Allyson Simpson – two of the best defenders from the NCAA. They are also expected to do big things in the PWHL next year. With all these players, teams in the PWHL will have a strong defense. It will be interesting to see how this talent shapes the game and the tactics used by teams to win.

The road to 2025 and beyond

Looking to the future, the PWHL's defense system is getting stronger. In 2025, stars like Haley Winn and Rory Guilday from the USA and Nicole Gosling from Canada will enter the picture, all ready to stir things up.

There are also top NCAA players like Kendall Cooper and Vita Ponyatovskaya, as well as European talents Jenni Hiirikoski and Emma Seitz, whose contracts have expired, making them free to join the PWHL.

And that's just the beginning. In 2026, the most amazing defenders like Caroline Harvey and Nelli Laitinen will be available. With all these talented players coming in, there will be a huge call to expand the league.

More talent is needed in the current setup. This means that even the best players, especially defenders and strikers, may need help finding a position. The PWHL is headed to a place where it will need to grow or see amazing players miss out.

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