The New York Riveters just keep getting better and better.
Michelle Picard, who the Riveters acquired the rights to in the first move of the 2016 NWHL offseason, has signed a one-year $17,500 contract to play for the New York Riveters next season.
Picard joins newcomers Courtney Burke and Kaleigh Fratkin on a stacked Riveters’ blue line. The Olympic silver medalist brings speed, puck movement, and loads of potential to a defense that has undergone some dramatic (and much needed) changes since the 2015-16 season.
“I decided to join the NWHL so that I could continue playing the game I love,” said Picard. “Last year I was honored to be drafted, knowing that it provided a great opportunity for me to join the league this year. I'm excited to be in New York and join my teammates in a battle for the Isobel Cup!”
According to Kate Cimini the Riveters might not yet be done with adding blueliners this offseason despite the fact that signing a sixth defender would leave them with just nine roster spots for forwards. As things currently stand general manager Chad Wiseman has signed six forwards and five defenders.
The only two returning defenders from the 2015-16 roster, Ashley Johnston and Kiira Dosdall, are the two lowest-paid players on New York’s blue line. Both take up $13,500 of cap space. Picard's contract makes her the second-highest paid defender on the Riveters behind only Fratkin. And there’s good reason why.
Picard just turned 23 and has played 66 games total for Team USA, including the U-18s, Four Nations, WWCs and Olympics.— Hannah Bevis (@Hannah_Bevis1) June 13, 2016
She's good. #NWHL
Despite persistent criticism from myself and others for the team's play last season, Chad Wiseman has been outstanding this offseason. His aggressive moves have given the Riveters what might just be the best blue line in the NWHL, although that is very much up for debate. On paper, the changes to the Riveters’ defense exceeds all expectations of the changes that fans were hoping to see after the team allowed the most goals in the league last season.
With Picard joining the fold the Riveters’ transition game, which already looked much improved thanks to their other offseason additions, should be even better. A very encouraging thought for a team that struggled so much in puck possession and creating chances.
Just how much ice time Picard and the rest of the Riveters’ defenders see next season will be something to speculate on before the NWHL preseason gets underway. Will the Riveters add a sixth defender? And if they do, will we see some of the smooth-skating, puck-moving blueliners take shifts at forward?
The answers to these questions are coming, and with them will be a better idea of what the 2016-17 Riveters will really look like.