The CWHL draft took place Sunday and the Brampton Thunder selected blueliner Sarah Edney, who played last season with Harvard, with the first overall pick. Women’s hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser was a second-round pick of the Calgary Inferno.
Amidst an off-season that has seen the CWHL lose a number of players to the burgeoning NWHL, the primarily Canadian women’s league restocked its rosters at the 2015 draft Sunday afternoon.
The Brampton Thunder, which was the only club not to make the Clarkson Cup tournament in 2014-15, had the first overall selection at the draft and used it to take blueliner Sarah Edney. Edney, a product of the NCAA’s Harvard University, scored eight goals and 22 points in 32 games for the Crimson in 2014-15. Edney was a member of the Canadian under-22 women’s team that won gold at the Nations Cup in January.
Following behind Edney in the draft were Emily Fulton (Toronto Furies), Marie-Philip Poulin (Montreal Stars), Brianne Jenner (Calgary Inferno) and Kristina Brown (Boston Blades).
“When your draft class features three players who have already won Olympic gold medals, it is clear that the talent pool is unbelievably strong,” said CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress. “The skill, determination and leadership represented in the 2015 draft is unparalleled. Looking at recent NCAA and CIS graduates alongside national team players from around the world and marrying this with the strength already in the league, suggests that the CWHL will again ice the best competition that this sport has to offer. I wish every one of these players the very best of luck in their upcoming tryout camps.”
Though the first round boasted a number of future women’s hockey stars, one of the most interesting selections came in the second round when the Inferno selected 37-year-old Hayley Wickenheiser with the ninth overall pick. It was announced more than a month ago that Wickenheiser would be entering the draft and her selection early in the draft made it official.
“Getting a player like (Wickenheiser) is huge; for us it’s like Bobby Hull joining the WHA, or Wayne Gretzky being traded to LA. It’s a game changer,” said Chantal Champagne, GM of the Calgary Inferno, at the time of the July announcement. “Players like that are one of a kind and it’s huge, not just for us but for the entire league. It proves that the CWHL is the league to play in.”
Wickenheiser wasn’t the only interesting veteran selected by the Inferno, however. In the sixth round, Calgary selected 30-year-old Japanese rearguard Kanae Aoki. Aoki was one of four Japanese players selected, alongside Moeko Fujimoto, Tomomi Kurata and Suzuki Sena.
The 2015-16 CWHL campaign begins Oct. 17 when the Furies host the Blades and Stars host the Thunder.