Editor’s note: I know that this is a Blackhawks blog, but with how they handled the Patrick Kane situation, I am far more excited about the Riveters right now, so they get more of my writing time this year. I like to write about what excites me, and right now that’s the Riveters
(Editor’s note: So I was writing this as part of a larger post on where the Riveters stand, but I was having fun thinking about next season and it got long fast, so here it is on its own!)
It is time to think about next season. This is of course assuming the NWHL gets a next season. In my mind, there are 3 priorities.
1. Sign all the draftees. The 2015 Riveters draft class of Alex Carpenter, Haley Skarupa, Erin Ambrose, Dana Trivigno and Kimberly Newell are all having FANTASTIC years. There is an enormous amount of talent there, and all of it needs to be signed. Young talent is good no matter what sport you are playing, and this is really, really excellent young talent. All of it needs to be on the team next year, and hopefully many more to come.
2. Steal talent from other NWHL teams. In a league as small as the NWHL, talent that you take from another team is doubly effective because a. you get that talent and b. the other team loses it. The NWHL is rife with talent that is being underpaid because of the salary cap (to be clear, I think every single player in the NWHL is underpaid, but I’m talking in a relative sense) and that is what should be targeted. Would I love to see the Riveters get a player like Emily Pfalzer, Gigi Marvin, Briana Decker, or Blake Bolden? Of course! But until the league can pay a living wage (cross your fingers) I don’t see that happening. However, players like Jordan Brickner, Danielle Ward, Jillian Dempsey, and Rachel Llanes are all making less than 11,000 dollars a year. The Riveters could surely find a way to beat that. Of particular interest to me are players like Dempsey and Llanes of the Pride. With all the national team members on the Pride, they would not be able to afford to give players like Dempsey and Llanes a raise. That’s where the Riveters come in!
3. Resign important players. So here’s the thing, in my mind the Riveters don’t really have a lot of weak spots, players who are well below their teammates. The Riveters are a very balanced team, and more importantly all the players are incredible young women. But unfortunately, the Riveters need an infusion of high end talent, which they can get through the draft and free agency, so unless the rosters expand there will be players who cannot stay. Dani Rylan (or the next GM, but Rylan should already be thinking about this) need to identify players who the Riveters can’t lose, resign them first, then resign other players as needed. Off the top of my head (and quickly so I can finish writing this and go to work) Johnston, Fujimoto, Ketchum, Packer, Ammerman, Weber, Belyakova, Holze, Dosdall, and Kidd are all lock-ins to get a second year with the Riveters. A lot of other players will hopefully be back as well, but these ten need to be priorities.
Also, one last note. Thought the Riveters are struggling right now, I would rather watch them lose than pretty much any other team I support win. For years many of us have been complaining about the complicity we feel while following pro sports that enable drunk drivers, rapists, and murderers. Then the NWHL came along, and is doing something unbelievably positive in sports.