“Firebirds Farewell” is a new series dedicated to honoring the players moving on from the OHL and the Flint Firebirds organization.
The Flint Firebirds are a young franchise in the OHL. Just five years into its existence, the organization’s history is far from rich. In reality, until this season, there’s been more negatives than positives to highlight regarding the franchise. However, since 2016, one bright spot remained constant in Flint. Of course, that was the play and leadership of Ty Dellandrea.
In just the team’s second OHL Priority selection, the Firebirds chose Dellandrea with the fifth-overall pick in 2016. In a class filled with quality talent, Dellandrea still ranks among the best players to come out of the draft. Among the players in the 2016 selection year, he is fifth in total points and played at least ten fewer games than every player above him. On top of that, he’s produced the fifth-most goals and played fewer games than everybody ahead of him except for London’s Liam Foudy. When you look back at an OHL Selection that included the likes of Ryan Merkley, Akil Thomas, and Serron Noel, it’s easy to pinpoint teams that whiffed on picks. However, it’s safe to say that Flint got there’s right.
Ty Dellandrea’s Impact in Flint
To call Dellandrea the most impactful player to wear a Firebirds jersey might be an understatement. On team struggling to find its way, there was no other player that kept hope alive more than the Toronto native. Of course, rookie seasons are a transition period for any player. In 2016-17, the same proved true for Dellandrea. Still, in just 57 games, his 24 points provided a small glimpse into what lied ahead. Dellandrea ranked among the top ten on the team in point production and was a part of the franchise’s first trip to the playoffs.
Dellandrea’s sophomore year in Flint saw growth both on the ice and as a leader. Dawning the “A” on his sweater, he led the team in goals with 27 and ranked second in points with 59. In a year where the Firebirds only managed 20 wins, Dellandrea remained a bright spot for the franchise. His successful season resulted in a high draft stock heading into the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Then, with the 13th-overall pick, the Dallas Stars selected Dellandrea, making him the first Firebirds player to go in the first round. To this date, he remains the only Flint player to go in the opening round.
The following season brought more suffering for Flint in the standings, finishing the year as the worst team in the Western Conference. Still, Dellandrea powered through those trials and tribulations, putting together another great year. In 60 games, the new captain produced 22 goals and 41 assists to lead his team in points. On top of that, he enjoyed an 11-game stint in the AHL scoring two goals.
This past season was the first time in Flint Dellandrea had an abundance of talent on the ice with him. He continued to produce at a high level and the Firebirds were experiencing the best campaign in their young history. In just 47 games, he posted a career-high 70 points and would have played a major role in a probable deep playoff run.
Although this season came to an unexpected and undesired halt, it does not take away from what Dellandrea and Flint accomplished. After three years of remaining positive and continuing to battle, Dellandrea finally became part of a successful hockey team. He might not witness the spoils that lie ahead for the organization. However, the leader in all major statistical categories helped lay the foundation and pioneer the movement.
Up Next for Ty Dellandrea
Technically, Dellandrea is eligible to return to Flint next season. Unfortunately for the franchise, it’s not happening. Dellandrea’s development is at a point where it’s time to join the professional ranks. The Dallas Stars fully expect him to compete for an NHL roster spot whenever training happens. If he doesn’t make the roster out of camp, the best place for him to go will be Texas. So whether it’s playing in the NHL or the AHL next year, Dellandrea’s time in the OHL is over. Regardless, he will go down in the history books as the first true star in Flint Firebirds history.