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Riveters Sign Minnesota Defender Milica McMillen

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2014 NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Championship Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The most exciting offseason in women's professional hockey just keeps getting better for the New York Riveters.

Here is most of the NWHL's press release on New York’s newest blueliner:

Milica McMillen has signed a contract with the New York Riveters for the 2016-17 season, General Manager Chad Wiseman announced Thursday. McMillen and the Riveters agreed to terms on a one-year, $17,000 contract.

The Connecticut Whale, who drafted McMillen 10th overall in the 2015 NWHL Draft, will receive $2,000 toward their salary cap from the Riveters in accordance with the draft tax bylaws.

“It was such an honor to be drafted last year, especially knowing that only about 20 college juniors from the whole country were drafted,” said McMillen. “And knowing that I was part of the historical first NWHL Draft is something that I can one day tell my kids.”

In her collegiate career, McMillen played in 149 games with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, scoring 120 points (44g, 76a) from the blue line. She helped the team to two NCAA National Championships in 2013 and 2016. McMillen played with USA Hockey in the 2011 IIHF U-18 World Championship, 2012 Four Nations Cup tournament, and the 2014 U-22 Series.

McMillen is the sixth defender that has signed with the Riveters this offseason, which means that New York will only have 9 roster spots available for forwards. It would not be surprising to see some of their blueliners, especially a player with tremendous offensive upside like McMillen, take some shifts at forward next season. She certainly has the speed and instincts to make it work if it becomes necessary.

There is also McMillen's chemistry with top forward and new face of the franchise Amanda Kessel to consider. McMillen played with Kessel and won two NCAA Championships with her in 2013 and 2016. If Chad Wiseman can find a way to sign Hannah Brandt and import even more ready-made chemistry from the dominant Golden Gophers program, New York’s offense will be an entirely different species after scoring just 40 goals in 18 regular season games.

When Wiseman signed Michelle Picard I jokingly called the Riveters’ defense “the best ever” and suggested that it could be the best in the league. Now, with the McMillen signing, I no longer think there is any debate. The Riveters have the best blue line on paper right now and that will likely still be the case after the other three NWHL teams complete their rosters.

The depth, speed, puck-movement, and talent that Wiseman has in his defense group for the club’s second season is downright exciting. With Jaimie Leonoff as the projected starting goaltender and more talented defenders than you can shake a stick at, New York will have a dramatically improved defense from what we saw last season.

McMillen will be a big part of that with her ability to generate offense, and a lot of it, from the blue line. Being nearly a point-per-game player as a defender for the Golden Gophers speaks volumes about what she can and will bring to the table.

At 5’10” she also brings a big shot and lots of strength to the Riveters’ back end.

If you weren’t already on the edge of your seat for the 2017-18 New York Riveters season, you should be. Wiseman’s aggression and commitment to finding talent wherever he can find it is going to make New York a winning hockey team.