While the NHL is engaged in its own signing season, the NWHL, the fledgling women’s league that’s set to kick off in time for the 2015-16 season, is going through talent acquisitions of its own. As part of the NWHL’s free agent period, the league is set to hold its first set of training camps in Canada from July 6-9.
The camps, which begin in Montreal before moving on to Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor, are already filling up, but the league says they’re looking for more players yet and registration remains open at NWHL.co. There’s the possibility, too, that from the camps will come a number of free agent signings, as the league’s four teams are looking to fill out their rosters.
At present, commissioner Dani Rylan, who also happens to be the GM of the New York Riveters, said the camps have around 15 registered attendees per camp, but they’re hoping to boost that to 20 players by the time the July 3 registration closes.
“We’re looking for the top players,” said Rylan. “We have former college players, top (NCAA) Division I college players, a handful of Division III players. We’re looking to find those handful of players who will be ready to make the jump to the professional level and we’ll be ready to sign contracts from these camps.”
Some notable attendees at the Toronto camp include Kelly Babstock, who has previously been invited to the U.S. national team camp, Shannon Doyle, a Team Canada women’s camp attendee, and Tatiana Rafter, a former CIS Canada West player of the year.
The NWHL, unlike other leagues of its ilk, is a paid professional women’s league with a salary cap of $270,000 and a roster max of 18 players, meaning a team at the cap would have its players earning an average of $15,000 per season. However, the players and agents are able to freely negotiate salaries, meaning some players could earn far more than others.
Rylan had previously said contract information would become available and, once again, reiterated that when the free agency period ends in August, teams will make financial details available through a database on the NWHL website.
“We’re going to host a CapGeek of sorts,” Rylan added.
As for what to expect from the camps, Rylan says the events are going to be fast-paced and determine which players are skilled enough to make the jump to the NWHL.
“We’re looking for what we could call a high-tempo (college-style) practice. Similar to a Monday college practice,” Rylan said. “The first hour we’ll be doing small area games, flow drills, and keep a high-competitive level. The last 30 minutes we’ll be scrimmaging.”
When it comes to specifics, though, Rylan says the Riveters are going to be looking for goaltenders and, after filling their need between the pipes, will be attempting to fill the remaining 10 spots on the roster.
The four Canadian camps are the only ones the league intends to run north of the border this off-season with no current plan to host tryouts west of Ontario. There will, however, be an international camp held in Boston July 23, which will be comprised solely of players from outside North America.