Piece by piece, Boston’s new pro women’s hockey team is coming together.

On Monday morning, only three players were officially tied to Boston’s yet-to-be-named Professional Women’s Hockey League franchise. But by day’s end, another 15 players were brought in as part of the PWHL’s inaugural draft to join the trio of Hilary Knight, Aerin Frankel and Megan Keller that had signed with the team earlier this month.

While it’s still a long way to January and the scheduled start of play for the PWHL, Monday was a big step in getting to that first puck drop.

The PWHL allowed each of its six franchises to sign three players prior to the draft and Boston chose Knight, goaltender Frankel and defender Keller as the cornerstones of its first roster.

Knight, who previously played for the Boston Pride of the Premier Hockey Federation and the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League before that, has been to the Olympics four times with Team USA and is one of the biggest names in the game. She was thrilled when speaking earlier this month about what it will mean to come back to Boston.

“Obviously having a professional league and somewhere sustainable to play is just so exciting,” she said. “But to double down and return to Boston and build a substantial legacy here with these two individuals, I can't think of anybody better to do that with — and no better city to do that in.”

The PWHL is uniting pro women's hockey in North America after the Premier Hockey Federation, which was the home of teams like the Boston Pride, and the Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association had a rift that split the game down the middle.

Dozens of women hockey players in black and yellow jerseys raise their hands in celebration as a coach hoists a silver trophy above his head.
Boston Pride players cheer as their coach hoists the NWHL Isobel Cup trophy after the team's victory in the championship hockey game in Boston, Saturday, March 27, 2021. The team was dissolved earlier this year to make way for the new league.
Joshua Bessex AP

With the third overall pick in Monday’s draft, Boston selected forward Alina Müller out of Northeastern to help build that legacy of the new united front. Müller, who had been slated to play for the Pride before the PHF was bought out to make way for the PWHL, holds the Huskies’ program records for points, assists and game-winning goals. Given the fact that she already built so much in Boston, it’s no surprise she wasn’t looking to leave.

“I would have been happy anywhere. But I can say now that Boston was my first choice, of course,” she said. “And yeah, that did play out that way, still, can't really believe it and I'm very happy.”

There’s plenty of talent that Boston picked up to shape its roster. Sophie Jaques, who the team drafted out of Ohio State in the second round, is the reigning winner of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which is given annually to the best Division I women’s college hockey player. Frankel won the award in 2021 with Northeastern and Jamie-Lee Rattray, the team’s third-round pick, won it in 2014 at Clarkson University. Loren Gabel, who the team took in the fourth round and previously played for the Boston Pride, won it in 2019 with Clarkson as well.

One big name player from the Boston Pride who won’t be returning to Boston is Jillian Dempsey, the captain of the Pride who Montreal selected in the 11th round.

Boston general manager Danielle Marmer said the team was strongly considering bringing Dempsey on.

“That round, I think when she went, that was right around when we were getting close to talking about taking her,” she said. “So, we’re a little bit bummed out that we didn’t end up getting her, but she deserves to be playing in this league and I couldn’t be more happy for her.”

Still, after a long day, the outline of Boston's squad is set. And Marmer is thrilled with the starting point the team has.

“In preparing for this draft, my staff, we went through a few mock drafts and every single one was completely unpredictable, they all ended up so differently. And this one is as close to perfect as we wanted it to be,” she said. “So, we’re super thrilled with the group that we have and can’t wait to get them on the ice in November for camp and for puck drop in January.”