Top three NWHL forward free agents still available

March 23, 2014: Clarkson University's forward Genevieve Bannon (9) takes a shot on goal during the Women's Frozen Four Championship game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Clarkson Golden Knights at TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, CT. Clarkson wins the NCAA Division 1 Women's Hockey National Championship. Photographer: David Hahn/Icon Sportswire
David Hahn/Icon Sportswire

Free agency in the NWHL is firing red hot right now as teams battle to fill out their 17-player rosters for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

The Buffalo Beauts and the Boston Pride have completed their forward rosters and the New York Riveters have only one slot left in their lineup.

The Connecticut Whale, on the other hand, have seven empty forward spots to fill before training camp begins.

Courtesy of @DigDeepBSB

It is true that many of the league’s most skilled forwards are centralizing for the Olympics in just a few short weeks, and some of the NWHL’s bigger names have registered for the CWHL Draft. However, there is a lot of talent available for the Rivs and the Whale. Some veteran players remain unsigned, and on top of that pool, the NCAA graduates hundreds of women’s hockey players every year.

What follows is a brief list of some of the most impactful forwards still available in free agency.

Nicole Kosta

Kosta played her rookie year with the Whale, and it would be an incredible loss for the league if she did not find her way onto a roster in the upcoming season.

The young Quinnipiac graduate finished seventh in the league in points. She improved on her college career stats, scoring .94 points per game; in the NCAA, she averaged only .90. Though Connecticut suffered through a disappointing season, Kosta had a breakout year and made a name for herself as a clutch point producer.

The Whale have a unique opportunity to move up in the standings, simply by bringing back as many players as possible. The veteran leadership of players like Kosta and Kelly Babstock will be immeasurably important for the team’s third season.

Dana Travigno

Travigno is a unique player who would be a valuable asset to either the Riveters or the Whale, and if New York was able to sign her away from Connecticut, it would be quite a coup. She would fight in easily with New York’s newfound speed, and add an edge the Riveters would certainly benefit from.

Though the feisty forward scored only nine points last season, Travigno’s tale isn’t necessarily told on the scoreboard. She is a tenacious forechecker who would be a key component to any team’s possession game.

What is perhaps most interesting about Travigno is her vicious play. She is a force to be reckoned with on the boards and in front of the net. She is always ready to get a good scrum going, but rarely crosses the line. As hard as she plays, she keeps her penalty minutes rather low; essentially, she is able to be physically taxing on an opponent without making her team pay the price with a penalty kill.

Genevieve Bannon

The Clarkson Golden Knights reign as champions of NCAA women’s hockey. The team’s featured forward, Cayley Mercer, has registered for the CWHL Draft. Her teammate and key contributor last season was Genevieve Bannon.

An assistant to “Captain Mercer,” Bannon was a productive collegiate scorer in her own right, finishing in the top five in career scoring for Clarkson. Her 53 points and 28 goals were huge for the Knights last season, and her 1.25 points a game were impressive as well. As a rookie potentially breaking into the league, Bannon would be a difference maker on either team. The 5-foot-8 power forward would add size and strength to the Riveters’ lineup, or join Babstock on a physical scoring line for the Whale.

While this list of only three players remaining barely scratches the surface of the players available, these unique players have several layers to their individual games which would best aid the Riveters and the Whale in their quests to unseat previous champions Buffalo and Boston. Surely, as July moves quickly into August, these talented women will find rostered positions on an NWHL team.

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