Last week, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they had invited winger Yushiroh Hirano to prospect camp, while defenseman Ryo Hashimoto was set to attend Columbus Blue Jackets camp. But it’s unlikely either has as good a chance as Nana Fujimoto of making it to the pro level.
Fujimoto, the goaltender for Japan’s national women’s hockey team, is set to attend the NWHL’s upcoming International Team Camp that will take place from July 23 to July 27 in Wilmington and Malboro, Mass. The camp, which will feature free agents from several European countries and a select group of invitees, will give the international talents a chance to make the burgeoning women’s professional league. When it comes to goaltending, Fujimoto has already shown she may have a leg up on her competition.
As the goaltender for Team Japan, Fujimoto competed for her country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and stole the show at the 2015 Women’s World Championships, being named goaltender of the tournament.
After helping Japan qualify for the eight-team tournament, Fujimoto went 1-1-0-1 in round robin play and posted two consecutive victories over Germany in the relegation round. Upon completion of the tournament, Fujimoto, with a 1.52 goals-against average, .938 save percentage, eight goals against and one shutout, was named the tournament’s top goaltender.
“If I am able to develop my skills playing in the NWHL, I believe that I could be a role model for young hockey players in Japan,” Fujimoto said in a release from the NWHL. “This league will provide a great opportunity to all women hockey players.”
The 26-year-old netminder currently plays club hockey for Vortex Sapporo.
The International Camp includes participation in the Beantown Classic tournament and will showcase three NWHL free agent clubs playing within the AAA Division of the tournament. Free agency for the NWHL wraps up on Aug. 17 and rosters will be finalized soon thereafter.
According to NWHL commissioner and New York Riveters GM Dani Rylan, the league is expected to release all salary information for the paid women’s professional league after the free agency period ends. The NWHL website, NWHL.co, will reportedly host salary data in a CapGeek-type format.