2018-19 OHL Season: The Flint Firebirds finished the 2018-19 regular season outside of the playoff picture. With a record of 16-46-6-0, they accumulated the fewest points (38) in 68 games in their four-year tenure in the OHL.
After dropping their first 12 straight games, a coaching change was made. Eric Wellwood took over as bench boss and, despite a heavy dose of injuries to the club, showed steady improvement over the remainder of the campaign. The Firebirds finished the season with points in eight of their final 11 games, including victories in five of their last seven on home ice.
2019 OHL Priority Draft: The Flint Firebirds, with the second overall pick in the 2019 Draft, selected forward Brennan Othmann from Pickering, Ont. Last season, Othmann tallied 146 points (66G, 80A) during the 72-game regular season with the Don Mills Flyers Minor Midget AAA (GTHL) team. In the playoffs, Othmann scored seven goals and added 14 assists in 13 games. He was also a member of Team Ontario at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, where he led the team with 16 points (10G, 6A) in six games en-route to the Silver Medal.
The remainder of Flint’s 2019 draft selections were as follows:
Round 2, 22nd overall: Braeden Kressler (F), Kitchener, Ont.
Round 3, 44th overall: Tyler Dunbar (D), Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Round 3, 57th overall: Zacharie Giroux (F), Sudbury, Ont.
Round 3, 58th overall: Matthew Roy (D), Ottawa, Ont.
Round 6, 105th overall: Jack Silich (F), Long Grove, Ill.
Round 7, 125th overall: Ty Gallagher (D), Clarkston, Mich.
Round 8, 145th overall: Jack Stolicker (F), Holly, Mich.
Round 9, 165th overall: Patrick Saini (F), Toronto, Ont.
Round 10, 185th overall: Eddie Moskowitz (F), Toronto, Ont.
Round 11, 205th overall: Owen Carlile (F), Brighton, Mich.
Round 12, 225th overall: Kyle Maloney (F), Waterloo, Ont.
Round 13, 245th overall: Amadeus Lombardi (F), Concord, Ont.
Round 14, 265th overall: Joshua Vagenas (D), Erin, Ont.
Round 15, 285th overall: Jacob Cielen-Gough (D), St. Catharines, Ont.
Aged Out: Flint parted ways with two players due to the OHL’s age limit of 20. Defenseman Hakon Nilsen played all four of his OHL seasons as a member of the Firebirds. He earned 32 points in 217 regular-season contests, and also appeared in all five of Flint’s playoffs games during that span. Netminder Emanuel Vella played with four different OHL teams during his tenure, backstopping the Firebirds in 42 games in his final campaign in the league.
Overage Shuffle: The Firebirds are in a good position as far as the age of the players expected to return for 2019-20. Forwards Jake Durham and Jack Phibbs are the only two from last season with only one season of eligibility remaining.
Import Issues: Defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok (Minsk, Belarus) is the lone member of the squad from a previous import draft (2018). Flint will get the fourth overall pick in June’s CHL Import Draft.
2019 NHL Draft: The Firebirds have four players listed on NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings for the upcoming NHL Draft. Defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok is the highest-ranked skater from the club, ranked 31st and expected to go in the first round. Forwards Ethan Keppen (74th) and Eric Uba (141st) also made the list. Additionally, Luke Cavallin is ranked 23rd among goaltenders in the Final Rankings.