Recently some important news regarding the NWHL's offseason surfaced.
Mark your s!— New York Riveters (@NYRiveters) March 21, 2016
May 1 - July 31: Free Agency
June 18: Junior Draft pic.twitter.com/IABJLcRu9i
The New York Riveters and the three other NWHL teams will bid on free agents and attempt to bring back their key players (all players in the league signed one-year contracts with their respective clubs for the 2015-16 inaugural season) for the league's second season when the NWHL's free agency period opens on May 1st.
The question that faces Dani Ryan and the Riveters organization now will be which players that proved to be valuable assets from last season's team can be brought back and which free agents from both within and outside of the NWHL the team should pursue. An interesting fold to this question is just how difficult it is for international stars including Liudmila Belyakova and Nana Fujimoto to find work outside of the NWHL because of their visas as was discussed in the New York Times in an article by Seth Berkman in early March.
"If possible, I want to play here as long as possible," Fujimoto said through her interpreter, Nori Matsuura.
The biggest obstacle impeding their future plans stems from the P-1 visa for athletes, which restricts international players’ ability to work outside of competing in the N.W.H.L., where the maximum salary is $25,000.
It will also be interesting to see what happens with the league's salary cap, the number of practice players that are carried by each team, and just how many Riveters will be returning for the club's second season. Common sense suggests that there won't be drastic roster turnover because of the roots established in the local area by the current Riveters roster, but precious little is known about what happens and will happen behind the closed doors of the NWHL.
What the Riveters need more than anything is improvement in their puck movement and the addition of more skill into their lineup. Their 2015 Draft picks, if they should join the team next season, will bring plenty of that to New York, but there would still be plenty of opportunity for improvement with the team through free agency.
Stay with us through the NWHL's offseason for news and analysis on the league and the New York Riveters.