Bray Ketchum, 27, has agreed to contract terms and will return to the New York Riveters for the 2016-2017 NWHL season. The speedy winger led the team with 10 goals in the league's inaugural season last year and added 4 assists, good for a co-leading 14 points on the team alongside Brooke Ammerman. Ketchum proved to be a crucial element in New York's inconsistent and struggling offense.
With the restricted free agency period quickly waning into its final days, the move was a keen one by Riveters general manager and coach Chad Wiseman. The familiarity with what Ketchum brings to the ice will be a huge benefit as the team looks to keep its core of elite players but improve upon the their underwhelming 4-12-4 record last year. The team showed brief glimpses of solid hockey, but the inability to generate offense and maintain puck possession doomed them. Ketchum's talent in the offensive zone is needed on the team, especially with uncertainties as to who will be playing alongside her in the upcoming season.
This announcement came in the midst of groundbreaking NWHL news in which the New York Riveters find themselves at the epicenter. Alex Carpenter, future NWHL star and Riveters #1 overall draft pick in 2015, was traded to the Boston Pride. Carpenter was expected to be a catalyst for New York this upcoming season, but her departure had been suspected since her name was called in the draft due to her connections with Boston and the plethora of U.S. national team players on the Pride roster.
Ketchum will need to prove that her goal-scoring prowess was not a fluke as the team will likely continue to rely upon their elite forwards to carry the bulk of the scoring burden. Fortunately for Riveters fans, there are no signs that Ketchum will be slowing down. The Connecticut native elevated her game as the season progressed and displayed a penchant for springing into breakaways and sniping shots into the corners of the net. The cap-hit of $15,000 is friendly for a talented forward who has proven to be effective in the NWHL.
Now all eyes are set to the free agent market which will be open for business on May 1. Who will center Ketchum in the 2016-2017 season There are plenty of options both from within the organization and across the league. Stay tuned to Blueshirt Banter for more news on the NWHL and your New York Riveters.