PWHL Minnesota planned to throw its own mini-parade Friday, walking the Walter Cup through the streets of downtown St. Paul to Xcel Energy Center. A downpour canceled the victory march, forcing all the festivities indoors.

The team had been dodging stormy situations for the past month, so it wasn't bothered by one more. Especially not on this day. During Friday's public celebration at Xcel, Minnesota's players wanted to savor one of their last days together, rain or shine.

"It's so important to make every moment matter," goaltender Nicole Hensley said. "You're never going to have the exact same team twice in professional sports. That reality set in a little bit today."

Just 48 hours earlier, Minnesota won the PWHL's inaugural championship in Boston. Friday, the players were cleaning out their lockers at Tria Rink, doing exit interviews and discussing vacation plans. Many will return next season, but some in the group of 26 — which captured the Cup through chemistry, unity and an all-for-one spirit — will not.

General manager Natalie Darwitz will pick seven new prospects in the June 10 draft at Roy Wilkins Auditorium. Some of the 15 players on one-year contracts will become free agents, while others will be offered extensions.

That lent the tiniest tinge of melancholy to Friday's event. Though the influx of fresh talent is good for the PWHL, it will make for some difficult goodbyes.

"That's the hard part," Darwitz said. "There may be some players who don't have a spot here next year, because new, better players are coming in.

"It's going to be really hard to make our roster until we have expansion in this league. My analogy is, the tank stays the same size, but more fish are coming in. It's tough."

The players still had a parade Friday. Captain Kendall Coyne Schofield, holding the gleaming Walter Cup, led them onto the iceless Xcel floor past a mass of fans. After a proclamation from the mayor's office and a few speeches, they lingered to chat with fans and sign autographs, while the Cup perched on a table for photo ops.

The Walter Cup will be kept at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, but Darwitz plans to borrow a Stanley Cup tradition. She anticipates the team will receive a replica Walter Cup, and she wants every player to keep it for a day this summer to share it with their hometowns.

The GM is still waiting to hear about rings and a banner to hang at Xcel. In the meantime, she is preparing for the league's second season.

Minnesota has 11 players on multi-year contracts. That group includes goaltenders Hensley and Maddie Rooney; No. 1 draft pick and playoff MVP Taylor Heise; and cornerstones Coyne Schofield, Kelly Pannek and Lee Stecklein.

Darwitz hopes to keep some players who are on one-year deals, including forward Michela Cava, whose eight points in the playoffs tied Heise for most in the PWHL. Beginning June 22, players not under contract become free agents, with Minnesota able to match offers made by other teams.

Coach Ken Klee said he "really enjoyed" his season leading the team, but he and Darwitz declined to discuss whether he would return.

In the draft, Darwitz will stick to her mission of finding selfless, ultra-competitive players with championship pedigrees. Being local counts, too.

"I'm really proud that our roster is heavily Minnesota and Midwest-based," she said. "We believe great talent is in our backyard, and that's only going to grow our organization. That's really important to us."

The PWHL's second season will begin in late November, expanding from 24 to 30 regular-season games. Darwitz expects it to end about the same time, in late May. Though she has not finalized arrangements with Xcel and Tria Rink, she expects those venues will remain home for Minnesota's games and practices.

Before Wednesday's Game 5, Klee told his players about a good-luck text he received from a former American Hockey League teammate. Exactly 30 years earlier, their team won the AHL's Calder Cup title.

"I told the players, 'This is what you want,'" he said. "It's not about the trophy or a ring. It's about having the connection with people you're going to have 30 years from now."

Some of those connections will linger this summer. Several players will train in the Twin Cities, and there will be more public events on their victory tour, including a Twins game.

Friday, they soaked up one more day as teammates, carrying the Walter Cup out of Xcel to the song "Closing Time."

"Today, we could be together for just a little bit longer," defender Lee Stecklein said. "That's something I know we'll cherish."