The Flint Firebirds drafted 5-foot-7, 154-pound forward Evgeni Oksentyuk from Brest, Belarus with the fifth overall pick in the 2019 CHL Import Draft on Thursday. The left-handed forward has played both wing positions in his career, and was ranked inside the top-100 draft-eligible players on several lists for the 2019 NHL Draft. He may not have been drafted this year, but he was invited to the Montreal Canadiens’ Development Camp this week.
In the top professional hockey league in Belarus, the Belarusian Extra League, Oksentyuk logged 18 points (6G, 12A) in 49 games as a 17-year old. He was also named the top forward for the Belarus National Team in the 2019 IIHF U-18 World Championship, where he earned six points (3G, 3A) in five contests. Oksentyuk played for the two Belarus’ men’s national teams during the 2017-18 season, recording 21 points (14G, 17A) in 15 games with their U-17 team, and 15 points (7G, 8A) in 12 games for their U-18 team.
Despite his small frame, Oksentyuk has shown that he’s not afraid to use his body to separate the opposition from the puck. The terms “speedy” and “agile” describe his style of play. He joins fellow Belarusian Vladislav Kolyachonok in Flint. Kolyachonok was drafted by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft. The Firebirds didn’t lose any forwards to the OHL’s age limit, making the current roster a few forwards heavy going into August’s camp before the season begins.