Flint Firebirds 2019-20 Season
The 2019-20 OHL season is now a thing of the past. With a lot of time on our hands as we anxiously await next season, it’s a perfect time to look back at the year that was by evaluating players and their contributions to the Flint Firebirds’ success.
Over the next few weeks, we will be diving into the Firebirds roster, providing season-ending grades four players at a time. First up, will be the forwards, then the defensemen, and then concluding with the goaltenders. In assessing each player, a lot of criteria were considered in order to best determine an appropriate grade for each member of the roster. The focus was not only on their overall production this year but also the advances each player made in their individual development.
Of course, player grades are always subjective, especially when you start attaching a “+” or “-” to the letter. These evaluations are certainly open for debate and feedback is strongly encouraged.
Games Played: 58 – Goals: 33 – Assists: 45 – Total Points: 78
Evgeniy Oksentyuk’s debut season in the OHL could not have gone much better from an individual standpoint. The fifth-overall pick in the 2019 CHL Import Draft took no time making an impact in Flint, leading all Firebirds in goals, assists, and points. Additionally, Oksentyuk proved to be a reliable contributor in clutch situations. Of his 33 goals, six were game-winners. His overall effectiveness also shined through on the powerplay, recording 15 of his 78 points with at least a one-man advantage.
In terms of the OHL as a whole, Oksentyuk finished among the top 20 point producers. His goal and assist totals ranked in the top 25. In a year where there were a plethora of truly offensively gifted individuals, Oksentyuk can only be proud of his accomplishments this season.
In his rookie OHL season, Oksentyuk demonstrated a level of dominance unseen in his time playing in Belarus. Compared to 2018-19, his production skyrocketed to a level he never even sniffed in his home country. Although it’s his second year of draft eligibility, there’s no denying that the 19-year-old winger will be on a lot of teams radars come the middle rounds of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Player Grade: A
When a player leads a winning team in scoring, it’s hard to give them any grade other than an “A”. The Firebirds experienced their best season in franchise history and the addition of Oksentyuk had a lot to do with it.
Games Played: 47 – Goals: 32 – Assists: 38 – Total Points: 70
Due to the World Juniors and injury, Ty Dellandrea had the shortest season of his OHL career. However, that did very little in limiting his impact on the Firebirds. In just 47 games this year, the Dallas Stars prospect placed second on the team in both points and goals. His six game-winning tallies tied for the most on the team and he recorded 21 of his points on the powerplay. Although Oksentyuk led Flint in total points, Dellandrea sat at the top of the points per game category. Once again, Flint’s captain proved to be of great value to his team.
In terms of his development and progression as a player, the former NHL first-round pick continued to move in the correct direction. Even though his game total dipped from last season, he improved on his goal-scoring and overall point production. His assist numbers dropped slightly but that is simply because he took more of a “shoot first” mentality. Obviously, that paid off for both him and the Firebirds.
Player Grade: A
Arguably, Dellandrea had a better season than Oksentyuk. He wasn’t too far behind him in points and played 11 fewer games. If you’re going to give Oksentyuk an “A” for his play this season, the same must be done with Dellandrea.
Games Played: 63 – Goals: 15 – Assists: 43 – Total Points: 58
The 2019-20 campaign was the first season in Cody Morgan’s OHL career where he started and finished the year on the same team. That consistency that comes with throwing the same sweater over your head each game paid off for him. In his 63 games with Flint this season, the Maple, Ontario native experienced career-highs in both assists and points while tying his career-high goal number. This year, Morgan ranked fourth amongst Firebirds in points, third in assists, and 12th in goals.
On the powerplay, Morgan made an impact the same way he did on five-on-five. He was always more likely to find teammates for scoring opportunities than light the lamp on his own. Of his 13 powerplay points, nine were assists. Incredibly enough, 22% of his points were acquired on man-advantage scenarios.
Although he was far from the team’s leading goal-scorer, it’s hard to argue the importance of Morgan’s role this season for Flint. Yes, he did not reach the level of Oksentyuk of Dellandrea. Still, he served as a key cog in the Firebirds machine.
Player Grade: B
It would be pandering to the audience if Morgan was awarded an “A” for his efforts this season. Though it was successful, it did not reach the standard of the two “A” players mentioned prior to Morgan. The fact that he couldn’t register a few more goals also prevented him from reaching that “B+” mark. However, he still produced a strong season. Not only did he assist in Flint’s success, but there was also a major leap in his progression as a developing player. To be able to improve upon last season’s numbers by 19 points will always earn a player a few extra brownie points.
Games Played: 62 – Goals: 27 – Assists: 27 – Total Points: 54
In his third go-around with the Flint Firebirds, Jack Wismer established himself as both a reliable and dangerous goal-scorer. After registering just 21 goals in his first two years, the 20-year-old managed to pot 27 this season. One of the more remarkable aspects of his goal-scoring this season is he registered those 27 tallies on just 146 shots. To put it into perspective, Wismer ranked third on the team in goals but only recorded the seventh-most shots on net. Ty Dellandrea, on the other hand, scored just five more goals than Wismer but fire 215 shots. So to translate, Wismer was efficient at lighting the lamp in 2019-20.
Player Grade: B+
At first glance, it may come off as unfair to grade Wismer higher Morgan. Morgan did register four more points and also recorded far more assists. Still, Wismer exceeded Morgan in the stat that matters most in the game of hockey, goals. It cannot go unnoticed how important his goal-scoring abilities were to the success of his team this season. For that reason, Jack Wismer walks away from the 2019-20 season with a “B+”.
Next time we will continue our journey, dishing out player grades for every member of the 2019-20 Flint Firebirds. On tap, we will grade four more forwards, including Jake Durham, Connor Roberts, Riley Piercey, and Brennan Othmann.