A Closer Look at the 2024 PWHL Draft First Round

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The 2024 Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) Draft, the second in the league’s history, was a significant event that showcased the continuing growth and competitive spirit of women’s professional hockey. Following the precedent set by the inaugural draft in 2023, which saw Taylor Heise lead her team to a Walter Cup victory, the 2024 draft was eagerly anticipated by fans and analysts alike. The first-round selections, in particular, highlighted some of the top talents in the sport, poised to make an immediate impact on their respective teams.

The First Overall Pick: Sarah Fillier (Forward)

Team: PWHL New York
Background: Sarah Anne Fillier, a Canadian ice hockey player, was the standout first overall pick. Born in Georgetown, Halton Hills, Canada, in 2000, Fillier celebrated her 24th birthday just one day before the draft—a memorable occasion made even more special by her selection as the top pick. She most recently played college ice hockey at Princeton University, where she established herself as a formidable force on the ice. Standing at 5’4″ and weighing 137 pounds, Fillier has been a key player for both her college team and the Canadian national team. Her playing career includes three world and Olympic championships, underscoring her experience and skill.

Impact: Fillier’s selection by PWHL New York is expected to bring a significant boost to the team’s offensive capabilities. Her extensive experience has honed her skills and prepared her for the professional stage. Fillier’s ability to navigate the ice with agility and precision, combined with her scoring touch, makes her a vital addition to New York’s roster. Her leadership and championship pedigree will be invaluable as the team aims for success in the upcoming season.

The Second Overall Pick: Danielle Serdachny (Forward)

Team: PWHL Ottawa
Background: Danielle Serdachny, another prominent Canadian ice hockey player, was selected second overall by PWHL Ottawa. Born in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001, the 23-year-old Serdachny stands at 5’9″ and plays as a forward. She has been a standout player for Colgate University in the NCAA, and her right-handed shooting adds a strategic advantage to her gameplay. Serdachny is also a member of the Canadian national team, where she has demonstrated her versatility and physicality on the ice.

Impact: Serdachny’s addition to PWHL Ottawa addresses the team’s need to enhance their physical presence and build a robust offensive line. Known for describing herself as a “200-foot player,” Serdachny’s ability to play effectively in all zones of the ice makes her a versatile asset. Her commitment to making impactful plays and contributing both offensively and defensively will be crucial for Ottawa as they aim to improve their standings in the league. Serdachny’s physical style of play and her knack for being in the right place at the right time are qualities that Ottawa will rely on heavily in the upcoming season.

The Third Overall Pick: Claire Thompson (Defense)

Team: PWHL Minnesota
Background: Claire Thompson, a Canadian ice hockey player, was selected third overall by PWHL Minnesota. Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1998, Thompson is a 26-year-old defenseman who has made significant contributions to the Canadian women’s national team. A Princeton University graduate, Thompson finished her collegiate career fifth in all-time points by a defenseman in Princeton Tigers history, amassing 87 points. Despite not being able to attend the draft due to her commitments in medical school, her selection marks a major milestone in her career.

Impact: As the first defenseman selected in the 2024 draft, Thompson’s inclusion in PWHL Minnesota is poised to strengthen the team’s defensive core. Her offensive capabilities from the blue line, combined with her defensive reliability, make her a key player. Thompson’s experience at the national level and her leadership qualities will be crucial for Minnesota as they build a balanced and competitive team. Her ability to contribute both offensively and defensively will be a significant asset for the team’s strategy moving forward.

The Fourth Overall Pick: Hannah Bilka (Forward)

Team: PWHL Boston
Background: Hannah Bilka, an American ice hockey player, was the fourth overall pick, selected by PWHL Boston. Born in Coppell, Texas, in 2001, Bilka is a 23-year-old forward known for her dynamic playing style. She began her collegiate career at Boston College before transferring to Ohio State for her final year. Standing at 5’5″, Bilka brings a blend of offensive prowess and defensive acumen to her game. She is also a member of the United States women’s national ice hockey team, further highlighting her high level of play.

Impact: Bilka’s selection by Boston is strategic, as she offers a dual advantage with her offensive skills and defensive capabilities. Her ability to contribute effectively on both ends of the ice makes her a valuable two-way player. Bilka has expressed her desire to be an impact player, and her performance in college and at the national level suggests she has the potential to fulfill that role. Boston will benefit from her versatility and competitive drive as they aim to enhance their overall team performance in the upcoming season.

The Fifth Overall Pick: Cayla Barnes (Defense)

Team: PWHL Montreal
Background: Cayla Barnes, an American ice hockey player, was the fifth overall pick, selected by PWHL Montreal. Born in Eastvale, California, in 1999, the 25-year-old defenseman has been a standout player for Ohio State University and previously played at Boston College. Standing at 5’2″, Barnes led the country with a +71 rating in her final year, a testament to her exceptional defensive capabilities. Barnes is also a member of the United States women’s national ice hockey team and has earned medals in the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics.

Impact: Barnes’ selection as the second defenseman of the night adds significant strength to Montreal’s blue line. Her impressive plus-minus rating underscores her defensive prowess and her ability to influence the game positively. Barnes’ experience at both the collegiate and international levels provides her with a wealth of knowledge and skill, making her a crucial addition to Montreal’s defensive strategy. Her leadership and winning mentality will be instrumental in helping Montreal achieve their goals in the upcoming season.

The Sixth Overall Pick: Julia Gosling (Forward)

Team: PWHL Toronto
Background: Julia Gosling, a Canadian ice hockey player, was the sixth overall pick, selected by PWHL Toronto. Born in London, Canada, in 2001, the 23-year-old forward stands at 5’11” and has been a key player for St. Lawrence University. Last year, Gosling scored 22 goals, including seven game-winners, demonstrating her clutch performance in critical moments. In May 2021, she was one of 28 players invited to Hockey Canada’s Centralization Camp for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Impact: Gosling’s selection by Toronto brings a player with a powerful shot and versatility, able to play both wing and center positions. Her impressive goal-scoring record, combined with her ability to perform under pressure, makes her a valuable addition to the team. With the PWHL’s high level of goaltending, Gosling’s accurate shooting and offensive presence will be crucial for Toronto’s success. Her height and skill set will add a new dimension to Toronto’s forward lines, enhancing their offensive strategies for the upcoming season.

Conclusion

The 2024 PWHL Draft’s first round was a thrilling showcase of the league’s dedication to bringing in top-tier talent and shaking up the competitive landscape of women’s hockey. The selection of stars like Sarah Fillier, Danielle Serdachny, Claire Thompson, Hannah Bilka, Cayla Barnes, and Julia Gosling highlights not only their incredible achievements and potential but also the bold strategic moves of their new teams.

With each player ready to shine, the upcoming season is set to be a rollercoaster of excitement, with fans eagerly watching these rookies as they aim for the Walter Cup. The infusion of fresh talent is bound to light up the ice, promising a season packed with electrifying plays, fierce competition, and an undeniable passion for the game. The 2024 PWHL season is more than just a new chapter—it’s the continuation of an exhilarating adventure in women’s hockey!

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