Players have trickled in ahead of the third season for the Connecticut Whale. With the most recent re-signings of Sam Faber and Jordan Brickner, the Whale have 11 roster players out of a possible 25.
— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) August 1, 2017
Compared to what Buffalo has done (21/25), 11 seems minimal. However, returning eight players is a positive sign for the Whale as they look to build up from a fourth-place finish.
Brickner adds additional veteran presence to the Connecticut blue line. This has obviously been the focal point of the 2017 rebuild, and for good reason. The Whale allowed the most goals last season. Brickner is known as a solid defender who is also capable of adding to the offense.
Next, Jordan Brickner scores to make it 6-1 for the Whale. Assist to Doyle. pic.twitter.com/DEIFR4XFSP
— NWHL Gifs (@nwhlgifs) November 24, 2015
A 2016 NWHL All-Star in addition to being a two-year veteran of the NWHL, Brickner has also played overseas since her college days. She won an SWHL title with HC Lugano in the 2014-15 season.
In addition to Brickner, the Whale have re-signed Faber. “I couldn’t hang up the skates when I heard the Whale were moving back to Stamford – the city where I live,” stated Faber in the league press release announcing her return.
Faber has contributed three goals in each of her NWHL seasons in Connecticut. With high-scoring players like Kelli Stack and Haley Skarupa headed to China or as of yet unsigned, respectively, Faber will need to offer more offensive support in the coming season. She tallied 189 points (77 goals, 112 assists) in four seasons at the University of New Hampshire. Additionally, she recorded 15 goals and 15 assists in one season with the Boston Blades of the CWHL.
— Connecticut Whale (@CTWhale_NWHL) March 13, 2017
As of now, the Whale offense will rely heavily on Faber and 2017 All-Star Kelly Babstock. Rookie forward Stephanie Mock has ties to Brickner. In the league press release announcing her re-signing, Bricker stated, “I went to high school with [new signee] Stephanie Mock, so I’m thrilled to play on the same team with her again.”
With a short 16-game season, building chemistry early is extremely important. While the Whale return eight players from last season, their roles on the team and among each other will change. Five more skaters and a goalie must be signed for Connecticut to have a full team. Hopefully, the slow and steady approach to free agency will yield a roster with the ability to defend while maintaining a high offensive output.
It will be interesting to see who joins rookie Sydney Rossman between the pipes. Nicole Stock and Shenae Lundberg were knocked around last season. Neither has committed to the Whale, or any other team in the league. It seems likely that the Whale will move on from either option for the third season. However, with Harrison Browne recently coming out of retirement and signing with the New York Riveters, one cannot anticipate if the league will unveil any more surprise signings.
In addition to filling the 2017-18 roster, the Whale will soon participate in the NWHL College Draft. The draft held on Aug. 17 might be a glimpse at the vision of new head coach Ryan Equale. Connecticut is expected to have the first pick, followed by Buffalo, New York and Boston — order based on regular-season standings. Follow FangRag Sports for a complete review of the NWHL draft.