The newly-minted Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL) held its first draft last Monday, Sept. 18, as 90 players were selected to six teams.
But one Burnaby defender was surprisingly snubbed — at least for now.
Kaleigh Fratkin wasn't picked by any of the unnamed clubs from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, New York, Boston and Minnesota, all set to take the ice in early 2024.
While she currently doesn't have a place to play, especially since her previous team, the Boston Pride, folded with the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) earlier this year, there's still a chance for the 31-year-old to continue living her dream.
There is free agency for the PWHL, which will take place before training camps begin in mid-November.
According to Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News, Fratkin is one of the most highly-touted players available, ranking her third among the top 25 notable athletes that went undrafted last week.
"There's few tougher to play against than Fratkin," Kennedy writes.
"She's a three-time PHF all-star, was back-to-back PHF defender of the year in 2020 and 2021, and led the league in defensive scoring in 2016 and 2021. Fratkin can play in a top four in the PWHL, making her absence from the draft one of the most confusing out there."
The PWHL was formed as the new premier women's hockey league in North America after a total of three leagues folded between 2019 and 2023. It's backed by the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises.
Fratkin, a five-time all-star and two-time Isobel Cup champion, began her pro career in 2014 for the Boston Blades of the former Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).
She joined the Connecticut Whale as part of the National Women's Hockey League's (NWHL) Founding Four the next year. Before reaching those ranks, Fratkin played four years at Boston University.
Fratkin is also known for breaking the glass ceiling in becoming the first girl in history to play in the BC Elite Hockey League for the Vancouver North West Giants' under-18 AAA team.
She was so good, she finished third in points among Giants' defenders in the 2009-10 season and aided in the club's run to a provincial title that same year. Her efforts earned her a finalist nod for BC Athlete of the Year.
Fratkin also suited up five games in the same season with the Aldergove Kodiaks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League as a call-up.
A silver medal with Team Canada is also on Fratkin's résumé with the national women's under-18 squad, notching four points in five games at the 2009 tournament in Sweden. She played alongside Marie-Philip Poulin, Brianne Jenner, Melodie Daoust and Jamie Lee Rattray.
The PWHL is set to play 24 games between January and May for its inaugural year, expanding to more contests starting in November in future seasons.
- with a file from Jess Balzer, Burnaby NOW