If the National Women's Hockey League - entering its first season and paying their players - was positioned as an American alternative to the Canadian Women's Hockey League, it makes sense that the lone American CWHL team would be affected. That being said, I don't think anyone could have predicted the extent to which it would affect them.
The Boston Blades enter the season with an unbelievable amount of turnover from the team that beat Montreal in overtime in last year's Clarkson Cup final. In total,18 of the 24 players on the Blades 2014-15 roster signed in the NWHL.
Monique Lamoureux, one of their key players not to sign with the new league, was on the preliminary roster of the Minnesota Whitecaps. They also have a new coach in Brian McCloskey, as well as a new general manager in Krista Patronick this season.
That's not to say that the Blades are all out of talent. Two key Canadian national team members are still in the fold. Tara Watchorn is one of the best defenders in the world, and won the 2015 CWHL Top Defenceman award. She will lead the Boston blueline, and you can see her show off some of her skills against a men's league in the video below.
In goal, Genevieve Lacasse won the 2013 Top Goaltender Award, which helped propelled her into the No. 3 spot at the Sochi Olympics. Lacasse had the best CWHL numbers last year of any CWHL goaltender besides Charline Labonté. It would be expected that Lacasse, who split time with Brittany Ott last year, will have a bigger share of the Boston goal.
Lacasse was 10-0-1 but the 22 games were still split evenly among her and Ott. Lacasse also had a .925 save percentage (second to Labonté's .927) and a 1.68 GAA (ahead of Labonté's 1.89). Lacasse hasn't lost a CWHL Playoff or Regular Season game in regulation since the 2013-14 season. She was also 3-0 in Clarkson Cup games in that span.
While this team doesn't have the U.S. Olympic Team members they did last year like Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker or Meghan Duggan, with Watchorn, Lacasse, and a solid draft class that includes Kristina Brown, Nicole Giannino and Elizabeth Tremblay, they will not be pushovers, and will still be in the mix for a playoff spot.