Scouting: My Top 25 Under 25 Women's Hockey Players (Part 2)
Who are the best women's hockey players in the world under the age of 25?
In the last few weeks, the Ice Garden published its yearly Top 25 Under 25 list. As part of this exercise, I was invited to submit my list of the 25 best women’s hockey players under the age of 25.
Having recently updated the N-WHKYe models, I thought it would also be a cool idea to see the results that the models would yield for this exercise. The results below are therefore based on the updated N-WHKYe models considering equivalency metrics for the last 2 seasons. For each player, I additionally provide some scouting & player development insights based on video analysis.
The list below is fairly similar to the one I submitted to the Ice Garden for their Top 25 Under 25, but it’s not exactly the same. My list has a cutoff date of June 1st, 1997.
This second part focuses on positions 15 to 1 of the rankings. Here is the link to part 1 which presents positions 25 to 16 of the rankings.
15. Skylar Fontaine – Defender (Northeastern University) – WHKYe: 0.57 – 1998
Skylar Fontaine’s tactical movement patterns are among the world’s best on both sides of the puck. In almost any phase of play, she is able to find ways to positively contribute to her team. Whether we are speaking about rush offense, rush defense or DZ BO, the subtleties in Fontaine’s game allow her to easily help her team turn defense into offense in a short amount of time.
14. Taylor Heise – Forward (University of Minnesota) – WHKYe: 0.64 – 2000
Heise won the Patty Kazmaier Award this season. She generates most of her offense by going to the high value areas of the ice. In the long run, she could learn to improve her transition habits in order to be more dynamic off the rush. A good starting point could be to improve her basic posture which forces Heise to bend on her inside edges in order to stay stable on her skates. This is, in part, due to the distance between her knees being smaller than the distance between her feet, when in her basic posture.
13. Élizabeth Giguère – Forward (University of Minnesota Duluth) – WHKYe: 0.66 – 1997
Giguère has always been a point producer. She has always found a way to help her team put the puck in the back of the net. What makes her a special player offensively is her ability to not only identify, but also create and leverage high value seams on the ice. After identifying these seams, the precision with which she is able to distribute the puck is unmatched. I hope that, one day, she gets a crack at Team Canada’s roster.
12. Grace Zumwinkle – Forward (Team USA) – WHKYe: 0.66 – 1999
I don’t know of any coach who wouldn’t take Grace Zumwinkle on their team. If you tell a coach that they’re getting an energy player with as much skill as Zumwinkle, they would be over the moon. Her ability to use her body in order to create separation between her opponent and the puck is what allows Zumwinkle to be effective along the boards. And once she successfully protects the puck along the boards, she is often able to leverage her deceptive puck skills to bring it to the most valuable areas of the OZ.
11. Corinne Schroeder – Goaltender (Quinnipiac University) – WHKYe: 0.67 – 1999
Sometimes we talk about “big goalies who move well”: Schroeder exemplifies that perfectly. But beyond her impressive technical foundation, her size and her mobility, what impresses me most with Schroeder is her confidence and calmness in front of the net. Fun fact, she was credited with a goal in the NCAA this past season.
10. Aerin Frankel – Goaltender (Northeastern University) – WHKYe: 0.67 - 1999
Despite only being 5’5”, Aerin Frankel is one of the best prospects for Team USA in nets. She stays square in front of every shot and with her agility and compete level, she makes it very difficult for opposing forwards to beat her. She also served as an assistant captain for her college team this past season, which is a testament to her leadership skills both off and on the ice. She doesn’t have any blatant weaknesses, but when examining historical stats, going high blocker against her may be your best bet.
9. Josefin Bouveng – Forward (Brynäs IF) – WHKYe: 0.68 – 2001
If your team is playing against Josefin Bouveng, here is my tip: don’t let her hold on to the puck for too long (specifically in the OZ). If you do so, she will make you pay. When I watch Bouveng play, one thing that impresses me is her ability to generate shot attempts from the high value areas of the ice. She achieves this by constantly going to the slot or activating down the OZ funnel. Technically, working on her balance will allow her to keep a more stable center of mass through her turns and rotations.
8. Daryl Watts – Forward (University of Wisconsin) – WHKYe: 0.72 – 1999
There aren’t many players who can say that they have scored a national championship winning goal in OT from behind the net, but Watts can. In the OZ, Watts is a special player. Her hockey IQ and vision give her the ability to identify and execute optimal puck plays which often lead to either her or one of her teammates putting the put in the back of the net.
7. Jesse Compher – Forward (Team USA) – WHKYe: 0.73 – 1999
Jesse Compher’s main asset is her skating. Her stride is fluid and powerful as a result of her good knee flexion and stride extension. She doesn’t have any big weaknesses in her game and is a very versatile player but could work on developing some of the more complex habits such as catching the puck in the hip pocket, deception and slip passes.
6. Sydney Brodt – Forward (Linköping HC) – WHKYe: 0.76 - 1998
A bit like Bouveng, Sydney Brodt improves the condition of the puck by constantly battling to bring it to the high value areas of the ice. Her use of linear crossovers to build speed also allows her to get into good ice off the rush to leverage her solid wrist shot. Her understanding of the game and her offensive instincts (especially on the PP) make me think that she will have a successful career in hockey both on the ice and behind the bench (like she is currently doing with Team USA’s U18 team).
5. Petra Nieminen – Forward (Luleå HF) – WHKYe: 0.82 – 1999
Petra Nieminen is a 23-year-old forward who already plays the game like an experienced veteran. Her technical skills are very mature for her age and she already masters “shouldering speed” which is a habit that players are usually able to master, at the highest levels of the game, in their prime. She plays a North/South game and isn’t scared to use her heavy shot to put the puck past opposing goaltenders. In the long run, developing her ability to more readily access her outside edges could be useful for Nieminen.
4. Alina Müller – Forward (Northeastern University) – WHKYe: 0.84 – 1998
Alina Müller is a genius on skates. With her, it's all about pass placement to improve the condition of the puck and add value to her team's possession. If you’re playing on the same line as her, have your stick on the ice and be ready to receive the puck because she will find a way to put it on your tape. However, she also has strong underlying shooting habits which she could use more often to become even more of a dual threat in the OZ. She is the present and future of Team Switzerland.
3. Mikyla Grant-Mentis – Forward (Toronto Six) – WHKYe: 0.86 – 1998
Mikyla Grant-Mentis is the best player of the PHF. In terms of puck protection, she loads it to her hip pocket, which makes it less exposed, but also allows her to be deceptive. As dynamic as she already is, she could use linear crossovers more often to generate even more speed off the rush. But she is already so far ahead of the curve that even if she doesn’t, she’ll continue to dominate the PHF for many years to come.
2. Claire Thompson – Defender (Team Canada) – WHKYe: 1.21 – 1998
Claire Thompson is the future of Team Canada's blue line. She is only 24 and already holds the Olympic record for most points in one tournament for a defender. Her offensive contribution stems from her excellent vision and her OZ activation patterns. Moreover, her poise and hockey IQ allow her to be very efficient on exits by finding smart ways to beat F1. All in all, combining that with her great skating technique, she is also a difficult one to beat off the rush.
1. Sarah Fillier – Forward (Team Canada) – WHKYe: 1.21 – 2000
Sarah Fillier has had a spectacular start to her pro career. What makes her stand out is her wicked shot. But beyond just her quick release, what makes her shot special is her ability to catch the puck in her hip pocket. This allows her to store & release more energy when applying downward force through her shooting motion. By doing so, she maximizes the velocity on her shot. Given her most recent Olympic performance, she already is a superstar in Canada and will only continue to improve her game with time.