Those names, representing five nations, are (in alphabetical order): Sarah Fillier (CAN), Caroline Harvey (USA), Jenni Hiirikoski (FIN), Hilary Knight (USA), Nela Lopusanova (SVK), Marie-Philip Poulin (CAN), and Emma Soderberg (SWE).
The voting will take place among Media and invited members of the IIHF Family, and the winner will be announced on Thursday, 1 June at 9.00 ET/15.00 CET. Voters are not limited to these seven candidates, however. If anyone feels another player is more deserving, that name can be “written in” on the ballot.
This is the first year for this trophy, and at the conclusion of the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Tampere, Finland, a similar process will take place to determine the IIHF Male Player of the Year.
Both winners will be awarded their trophy in person by IIHF delegates, the larger version of which will be housed permanently at the Hockey Hall of Fame and a smaller version for the player to keep. The candidates are chosen based on players who best exemplify exceptional skill, determination, team success, and sporting character on and off the ice during the preceding season.
The players must have competed in at least one IIHF tournament (Olympics, Men’s or Women’s World Championship, World Junior Championship, Men’s or Women’s U18 World Championship) as well as in a domestic league of the highest calibre for that country, the combined performances of which were deemed superior to all other players.
Sarah Fillier, Canada
Fillier was named MVP of the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship. She was also named Directorate Award Best Forward as well as to the All-Star Team. She won a silver medal with Canada at the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship and finished with seven goals and eleven points in six games. Additionally, Fillier was captain of the Princeton University Tigers in NCAA play and led the team in scoring with 37 points in 31 games.
Caroline Harvey, USA
At just 20 years old, Harvey led the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship in scoring with 14 points, the first defender to do so in IIHF Women's Worlds history. She was named IIHF Directorate Award Best Defender and also earned a place on the All-Star Team. In NCAA play, she helped the University of Wisconsin Badgers with the Frozen Four championship.
Jenni Hiirikoski, Finland
At 36, Hiirikoski was the oldest player at the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship, but the brilliant skater has lost none of her speed and silky smooth stride. She had a career best 11 points in what was her record 15th IIHF Women's Worlds, and she helped Finland get back into Group A for next year. Hiirikoski also helped Lulea win the Swedish league championship. In those playoffs, she suffered a serious skate cut to her neck but made a full recovery and was back in the line-up with Finland just a couple of weeks later.
Hilary Knight, USA
Knight led the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship in goals with eight, but it was the last three that counted the most. All came in the gold-medal game, including the late game winner. With the win, the records continue to pile high for USA’s number 21. She is now tied for the most gold medals in a career (9) as well as most medals (13). She continues to be the top goalscorer of all time (61) and she now has 101 career points, the only player to reach the century mark.
Nela Lopusanova, Slovakia
Lopusanova might have been only 14 at the time, but she did what no female had done previously—provide worldwide attention to the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship. She scored a brilliant lacrosse-style goal against Sweden in the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women's World Championship quarter-finals, video of which was celebrated around the world. Later in the tournament, she scored on a shot between her legs on a breakaway, a further display of skills far beyond her years. She led the tournament in scoring with 12 points and was named tournament MVP, the youngest ever so honoured.
Marie-Philip Poulin, Canada
They call her Captain Clutch, and Canada’s captain, Marie-Philip Poulin remains at the height of her powers. She helped Canada win the silver medal at the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship and had eight points in seven games, including the opening goal in the gold-medal game. She was named to the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship tournament All-Star Team and was also the leading scorer in the PWHPA with Team Harvey’s during the 22-23 season.
Emma Soderberg, Sweden
Swedish goaltender Emma Soderberg has emerged as arguably the finest female puck stopper in the world. In the quarter-finals of the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship, she was nothing short of spectacular, stopping 51 of 54 shots and helping Sweden push Canada to overtime for the first time ever between these two teams. In all, she had a save percentage of .924 and was named to the All-Star Team. In NCAA play, she had an incredible 12 shutouts in 33 games with the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a sparkling GAA of 1.39.