Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto are home to first six teams
Player selection process, including draft and free agency guidelines, announced
TORONTO, ON (August 29, 2023) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) was officially introduced today with a foundational announcement naming its six markets across Canada and the United States. When the puck drops in January 2024, the world’s best women’s players will compete in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, as well as Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the New York City area.
Rosters for the inaugural season will begin forming during an initial free agency period commencing September 1, with the majority of the league’s founding players to be selected during the 2023 PWHL Draft on Sept. 18.
The league is supported financially by business and philanthropic leaders Mark and Kimbra Walter and is led by a Board of Directors that includes sports icon Billie Jean King, sports executive Ilana Kloss, Los Angeles Dodgers President Stan Kasten, and Dodgers Senior Vice President of Business Strategy Royce Cohen.
“On behalf of ownership and our board, I am honored to announce the official name of our new league and to unveil the blueprint for this historic inaugural season. And we are especially proud to be providing this new platform for elite women athletes,” said Kasten. “Our great game has the power to captivate and connect sports fans everywhere, and we are thrilled to plant roots in six of North America’s most passionate hockey markets.”
The 2023-24 PWHL schedule will feature 24 regular season games per team. The full schedule will be announced in the coming months.
“Today, we look ahead to a phenomenal future for the PWHL,” said Jayna Hefford, PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations. “We have never seen more excitement and demand for women’s sports, and through the launch of this league, the top women’s players in the world will have the opportunity to reach even greater heights.”
The PWHL is in the final stages of securing six General Managers who will be responsible for building team rosters through free agency and the draft. A Player Evaluation Advisory Committee has assessed the eligible player pool as an additional resource for the new GMs. The committee has extensive knowledge in coaching, scouting, and player development with members representing all levels of the women’s game from professional (PWHPA and PHF) to collegiate programs (NCAA and U SPORTS) to international competition (Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, and IIHF).
Initial Free Agency
Prior to the Sept. 18 draft, a 10-day free agency period will occur from Sept. 1-10. Each team can sign three players to Standard Player Agreements. Of note, current or graduating players from NCAA or U SPORTS programs are not eligible for this preliminary free agency period.
Any player who is interested in competing in the 2023-24 PWHL season must declare for the draft by Sept. 3. Of note, players with remaining collegiate eligibility are permitted to declare for the draft (in consultation with their campus compliance officers).
Draft Selection Process
Order of selection for the first round of the inaugural draft will be determined by a draft lottery. Subsequent rounds will follow a ‘snake format’ in which, once the round is completed, the following round will be conducted with the teams selecting in the reverse order of the previous round. The inaugural draft will consist of 15 rounds. There will be no draft picks traded until at least the completion of the 2023-24 season.
Undrafted players become free agents immediately following the draft and may sign a Standard Player Agreement with any team at any point following the draft. Selected players may go unsigned for two years before becoming eligible to enter the draft again. No player can declare for more than two drafts.
Standard Player Agreements
No more than 20 Standard Player Agreements per team are permitted to be executed in advance of 2023-24 Training Camps, which will commence in November. Six players on each team will be signed to three-year SPAs of no less than $80,000 per league year. In 2023-24, up to five players on each team will be signed to two-year SPAs. A player will become a free agent following the termination or end date of a signed SPA.
Sept. 1 – Initial free agency period begins
Sept. 3 – 2023 PWHL Draft declaration deadline
Sept. 10 – Initial free agency period ends
Sept. 18 – 2023 PWHL Draft
Fans can stay connected to the PWHL and register for email updates at thepwhl.com. Follow the new league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus all six new team accounts @pwhl_boston, @pwhl_minnesota, @pwhl_montreal, @pwhl_newyork, @pwhl_ottawa, and @pwhl_toronto.
Prospective players seeking more information about the draft declaration process may contact email@example.com.
PWHL Director of Communications