With the announcement of the NWHL, I started thinking about this year’s crop of seniors and where they might fit among the league’s four teams. With a salary cap of $270,000 per team that comes to $15,000 per player with the NWHL’s announced 18 player roster. That’s not enough to live on, and it stands to reason that some of the elite players may make more while some of the lower line players might make less. Of course, if teams chose to go with smaller rosters, say 10, 5, and 2, there’s more money to go around.
That means that for all but maybe a handful of players, the NWHL will not pay enough to be a player’s sole source of income. It stands to reason that a player’s hometown might help determine which NWHL team they choose to play for, especially if they’re already employed outside of hockey.
It struck me that because of this, for the first time, the City of Buffalo has a tremendous advantage in recruiting players because more players come from Ontario (178) than any other state or province. (Minnesota is next closest with 140 and Buffalo is still the closest NWHL team in that case.) I wanted to look at this year’s seniors to get a feel for just how advantageous that might be.
Of course with limited information available on the NWHL at this point any research like this comes with a lot of caveats:
- This isn’t intended to be a finished product or any sort of authority, merely an overview of the 2014 seniors. If anyone wants the file to modify for their own purposes, get at me on Twitter (@TitleIXHockey)
- This isn’t intended to be the right way or the only way to look at, arrange, or apply this data, merely the way I chose to do so. Certainly you can go by locations of colleges instead of hometowns and that will tell you something completely different though just as valid.
- I defined “local players” as players within a reasonable workday’s drive, generally within two hours.
- I chose to consider players in Western Ontario as more than one state away because the drive is upwards of twenty hours just to Buffalo.
I also chose to highlight potential starters and backups, first, second and third pair players, and first, second, third, and fourth liners to get some feel for who might fit into the NWHL. Certainly not all of these players will choose to play professional hockey and not all will choose to play in the NWHL, but if you’re building four teams from this year’s seniors, statistically this is who you’d do it with.
I’m curious to see how someone like Shenae Lundberg might perform in a professional league. She faced a barrage of shots as Union was out-shot on average 37-20 in their games this year so it’s difficult to infer too much from her stats. Certainly she put up solid numbers in spite of Union’s shots disadvantage.
On one hand the New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale are going to suffer because their spheres of influence are just not very big before they run into that of another team. On the other, those spheres will likely overlap more than having one stop and another begin so a Massachusetts-born player is not necessarily significantly more a Pride player than a Riveters or Whale player.
After Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York have the most players south of the border which gives a slight advantage to the Beauts and the Pride, but the New York players are scattered across the state, and again, the teams are close enough that it might not matter so much.
Of course without more advanced statistics like possession numbers or even icetime data, it’s tough to read too much into the point totals. Still, the potential for Buffalo and Boston to immediately develop an elite rivalry is intriguing.
The ‘Other’ Category Split by School Location
As you’d imagine the Western schools recruit heavily from the West so there are a lot of players left over without any ties to the Northeastern United States. I’d be curious to see a breakdown of players that end up in the CWHL and in Calgary versus the players that decide to go the NWHL route.