PWHL Boston battled PWHL Minnesota in the league’s first-ever Walter Cup Final, but they fell short of the ultimate goal in Game 5 last week.

With the inaugural season officially complete, PWHL Boston general manager Danielle Marmer turns her attention to the league’s second draft next Monday in Saint Paul, Minn.

With a strong core of forwards in Hilary Knight, Jamie Lee Rattray and Alina Müller, defender Megan Keller and goaltender Aerin Frankel locked up for two more seasons, Marmer will have a different mentality when PWHL Boston makes its selections with the fourth pick in each of the seven rounds.

“I think we’ve established a really strong core and an identity and how we want to play,” Marmer said in a video press conference Tuesday. “Now, it’s adding the pieces that make us a little bit better and allow us to finish the job next year.

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“Looking forward to a draft where we’re looking for three or four players we think are going to impact our lineup right way and as opposed to the 15 (players) of last year. There’s incredible talent in this draft, so I’m excited for that.”

Marmer didn’t give away her complete strategy entering the draft, but she did shed light on the caliber of players the franchise was looking for.

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“We’re looking for players who can impact right away,” Marmer said. “That’s proven players who’ve played at the highest level.”

Marmer noted that entering the inaugural draft last September, no one knew how the players would adjust to the level of play.

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“We’ve seen that it is a big step up from college,” she said. “And even a step up for these national team players who are used to playing these three-week tournaments. Now they have to find a way to sustain and be productive for a 30-game season, plus playoffs. So, definitely looking for experienced and proven ability in these early rounds in the draft.”

Boston had one of the best goalies in the league with Frankel posting a .929 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average in 18 regular-season games. In the playoffs, the 24-year-old netminder had a 1.45 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage in eight games.

What Boston lacked on its roster was the offensive threat that PWHL Toronto, Montreal and New York had.

“When you look at our lineup, we didn’t have the 15-20 goal scorer that you see in some other markets,” Marmer said. “There’s a high and elite goal-scoring forward, a forward who can hang onto pucks and allow players to develop.

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“Just as much as we’re looking to add offensively, we’re looking for (defenders) who can play in the neutral zone, transition quick. I think we score more goals if we play less hockey in our D-zone. We can have tight gaps and play early transition, play more offense, that’s also going to lead to more goals. So, we’re really just looking to add the proven experienced player and really looking to pick the next best player overall.”

Along with the seven-round draft, Marmer will also have to decide whether the club will extend contracts to the players who will become free agents on June 21.

Boston’s pending free agents include goalie Cami Kronish, forwards Hannah Brandt, Sophie Shirley, Amanda Pelkey, Lexie Adzija, Gigi Marvin, Taylor Wenczkowski, Kelly Babstock and Nicole Kosta, and defenders Emily Brown, Sidney Morin, Kaleigh Fratkin, Jess Healey and Abby Cook.

“My plan is to wait until after the draft,” Marmer said when asked if she planned to extend any contracts to those players. “Right now, what’s most important is preparing for the draft, and then we have this exclusive window to re-sign players on our own team who are on expiring contracts before June 21 when free agency opens. My plan of attack is to go to the draft first. That’s going to tell us a lot about the needs that we have or don’t have coming out of the draft. Who we need to prioritize in our group to get back on our team and then move into free agency from there.”

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The draft will feature 167 eligible players from all levels of hockey, including the NCAA, national teams, and other professional leagues worldwide.

Featured image via PWHL