Since we last checked in on the University of Minnesota Gopher Women's Hockey team there's been some activity by current and former players. Most of that activity involved the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL). Amanda Leveille and Amanda Kessel signed professional contracts with the league a few months ago, but as the free agency period drew to a close more Gopher alumni signed on for the season. Milica McMillen was the next Gopher to ink a contract with the NWHL during free agency. On June 16th, after initially being drafted by Connecticut Whale, McMillen signed with the New York Riveters for $17,000.
On the final day of free agency, July 31st, more contracts were announced. Ann Schleper—a former Gopher, Minnesota Whitecaps player, and Olympian—signed with the Buffalo Beauts for $21,000. Jordyn Burns, who played for Minnesota '12-'14, also signed with the Beauts for $13,500. Contracts have also been negotiated for some of the NWHL's returning players. Olympians Gigi Marvin and Megan Bozek will continue to play for the same teams they were with last season. Marvin returned to the Boston Pride for $20,000 and Bozek to Buffalo for $22,500.
Hannah Brandt announced on July 30th that she would play for the Minnesota Whitecaps in the upcoming season. The Whitecaps, who do not have a league to call home, do not pay their players and had a shorter season in comparison to the NWHL last year. However, they are located in the Midwest, unlike the NWHL, and the team is composed of many talented players; including quite a few Olympic and national team members. Brandt will be joined on the Whitecaps by 2016 Patty Kazmaier winner, Kendall Coyne, who announced her decision on July 28th.
Other Gopher News
Earlier in the summer the NWHL held its 2016 draft on June 18th. Gophers Lee Stecklein and Dani Cameranesi were drafted in the first round, going second and third respectively overall. The Beauts picked Stecklein, while Cameranesi went to the Whale. Both teams will definitely hope to sign them next year after they graduate. Also of note, five University of Wisconsin players, two Minnesota-Duluth players, and two North Dakota players were drafted. This meant that eleven of the twenty NCAA players drafted were from the WCHA.
Finally on a less happy note, on July 25th it was announced that Nina Rodgers is transferring to Boston University. During her two years with Minnesota, the forward developed a lot and earned two national championships. It is sad to see Rodgers go, but best of luck to her on the new team and hopefully she will get lots of ice time. Rodgers will get to face off against her old teammates this season, as BU will host Minnesota on December 9th and 10th.