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One of the most exciting things about the upcoming PHF season is the unprecedented shuffling of key players to different franchises. We’ve got near-Olympic speed skater Allie Thunstrom moving to the Boston Pride from the Whitecaps, Mallory Souliotis moving to the Connecticut Whale from the Pride, and Carly Jackson joining the Toronto Six. The biggest fish to change ponds, as sad as I was to see her go, Mikyla Grant-Mentis also leaves the Toronto Six and head to the Buffalo Beauts,
That last one stings but perhaps the Six feed the Beauts some of their own medicine by snapping up free agent Taylor Accursi. The forward has her entire pro career, the last 5 seasons, with Buffalo, and even co-captained the team last season. However, with the league-record $80k deal inked for Grant-Mentis, the Beauts clearly needed to be careful with how they used the rest of their player salary budget. That left them without either the will or the means to re-sign Accursi. It was the player who released a statement yesterday confirming that she would not be returning to Buffalo, on her Twitter account:
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Accursi, who hails from Ancaster, ON, would be more than welcome in a homecoming trip to the Toronto Six. In Accursi’s day job away from hockey, she’s an Ontario Provincial Police officer. This role forced her to sit out the COVID bubble season in 2020 that the then-NWHL played, which was also the Toronto Six’s inaugural season.
What can Accursi bring to the table? It would be easy to say she slots in as a scorer that they’ll be sorely missing without Grant-Mentis, but it’s safe to say that’d be like the Las Vegas Aces trying to replace Kelsey Plum, or San Diego Wave FC trying to replace Alex Morgan, or.. well you get the point. It’d be impossible because Grant-Mentis is simply on another level.
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That said, Accursi is a serious scoring threat. She’s scored at a 0.8 points per game pace in her entire career, and almost 0.95 points per game in her last two seasons. Last season, despite only playing 14 of the 20 regular season games, she finished with more points than top players like Christina Putigna and her teammate Anjelica Diffendal, who both played all 20.
Where Accursi might fit in is a mystery for Head Coach Geraldine Heaney and General Manager Angela James to work out, but it wouldn’t be hard to imagine her lining up on the left wing in the top six, perhaps even the top line. While the return of veteran Michela Cava will provide some scoring ability, as will the addition of Czechia star Teresa Vanisova, there will still be some room for Accusi to step into the hole left by Grant-Mentis.
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It’s probable that the Six already have their roster set at this point, and won’t make changes. But one can dream, no? There’s also only 11 forwards signed to the roster right now, though the Six played that way, with 7 defenders, quite often last season. They have 8 defenders signed, meaning one will be scratched every game, so perhaps another forward is exactly the final piece they need to give them a spare forward when they need one. The maximum roster size is 25 players, and the Six currently only have 21 players signed, so there’s definitely room to fit Accursi in, in terms of spots. On the financial side, perhaps no PHF team planned to have such a key forward available at this point and thus, left no room in the budget for her. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation shakes out for Accursi.
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