PWHL New York eliminated from playoff contention: Gold Plan, offseason and what comes next

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PWHL New York eliminated from playoff contention: Gold Plan, offseason and what comes next

PWHL New York has officially failed to qualify for the postseason after a 5-2 loss to Montreal on Wednesday night. They’re the first team ever to be eliminated from the PWHL’s Walter Cup Playoffs.

It’s a disappointing early end to a season that started off with promise. General Manager Pascal Daoust built a team that looked strong up the middle and on the blue line, with one of the best offensive players in the game (Alex Carpenter), and one of the top young goalies (Corinne Schroeder). After a strong performance in the preseason, New York looked poised to impress.



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And at first, it did. Ella Shelton, the team’s first-round pick, made history when she scored the first goal in PWHL history on Jan 1. New York won the first-ever game 4-0 over Toronto. But after that, the team struggled to string points together. Through 21 games, New York has only won three games in regulation and, at one point, went over two months (Jan. 20 to March 25) without a regulation win. The team has scored the fewest goals in the league (42) and has allowed the most against (56).

What comes next

Now that New York is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Gold Plan – the PWHL’s method of determining the draft order – will officially go into effect. According to the plan, which was first introduced by then-student Adam Gold in 2012, once a team is eliminated from the playoffs, it begins earning “draft order points” using the league’s standard points system. The team with the most points at the end of the regular season will be awarded the first-overall pick in the draft.

New York has three games remaining — against Toronto, Ottawa and Minnesota — which means it has three chances to collect as many points as possible to win the first-overall pick. It is expected that Team Canada and Princeton star Sarah Fillier will be the No. 1 selection at the draft in June. With her combination of speed and skill, Fillier should make an immediate impact in New York, should they win the pick.

New York will have a head start accumulating points after elimination, especially with fifth-place Boston still still fighting to get into the postseason. With a 3-2 shootout win against Boston on Wednesday night, Ottawa remains in the fourth and final playoff spot — three points ahead of Boston — with a game in hand.

Meanwhile, with the win over New York, Montreal officially clinched a spot in the playoffs, joining Toronto as the first two teams to punch their ticket to the postseason.

Looking ahead to the offseason

Most of New York’s core is set for next season. Carpenter, Abby Roque, Ella Shelton, Micah Zandee-Hart, Jaime Bourbonnais and Jessie Eldridge are on three-year contracts. Players like Élizabeth Giguère, Jade Downie-Landry, Jill Saulnier, Chloé Aurard and Brooke Hobson are all on two-year deals.

Perhaps the most important player in New York — save for someone like Carpenter — is on an expiring one-year contract: Corinne Schroeder.

The 24-year-old has been one of the top goalies in the league all season. Her .930 save percentage is second among starters, and without Schroeder making upwards to 39 saves, the result on some nights could have been much worse for New York. Re-signing Schroeder will be one of the most important items on the to-do list for GM Pascal Daoust.

Other notable free agents include forwards Emma Woods, Paetyn Levis, and Madison Packer as well as defenders Johanna Fällman, Taylor Baker and Olivia Zafuto. Backup goalie Abbey Levy and No. 3 Lindsey Post are also on one-year deals.

Daoust will need to decide if he wants to bring any of his free agents back before they hit the open market on June 21, or if he’s going to look to upgrade via the draft and free agency. With an early exit, it’s clear that improvements are needed up and down the lineup in New York, wherever they may come from.

(Photo of PWHL New York goaltender Corinne Schroeder: Christinne Muschi / The Canadian Press via AP)