Firebirds Prepare for 2016 NHL Entry Draft This Weekend
Bitten and Caamano Ranked in Top-70 North American Skaters to be Drafted
Buffalo, N.Y. – At least two Firebirds are expected to hear their name called this weekend at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, N.Y. It will be the 54th NHL Entry Draft in the league’s history and will be held Friday, June 24th – Saturday, June 25th at the First Niagara Center.
Over 114 of the organization’s alums have been drafted in the NHL including 17 first round picks. Most recently, in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Liam Dunda was selected in the 6th round by the St. Louis Blues. The organization had one of its strongest showings two seasons ago in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft when five Whalers’ players were selected: Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina, 2nd round, 37th overall), Connor Chatham (New Jersey, 3rd round, 71st overall), Alex Peters (Dallas, 3rd round, 75th overall), Josh Wesley (Carolina, 4th round, 96th overall) and Matt Mistele (Los Angeles, 6th round, 180th overall).
This season, the Firebirds have a handful of players that are draft eligible for the first time including Will Bitten, Nicholas Caamano, Jacob Collins, Dane Johnstone, Matyáš Kantner, Luke Kirwan, Håkon Nilsen and Keenan Reynolds.
Bitten, a 1st round pick of the Whalers in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection, is the highest rated Firebirds’ player for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Currently ranked as the 43rd best skater in North America, he is projected to be selected in the 2nd or 3rd round of the 2016 NHL Draft.
Firebirds’ forward Nick Caamano is also a highly touted prospect for the draft. The 2nd round Whalers’ draft pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection is currently ranked 69th among North American Skaters and is projected to be picked in the 4th or 5th round of the 2016 NHL Draft.
Luke Kirwan is another player that has garnered the attention of NHL Scouts. Acquired from a trade with the Windsor Spitfires on January 4th, Kirwan was a positive asset to the Firebirds’ line-up.
Of the 117 drafted alums, 21 former skaters from the Whalers’ organization played in the NHL in the 2015-16 season: Jared Boll (Columbus), Greg Campbell (Columbus), Connor Carrick (Toronto), Ryan Hartman (Chicago), Michal Jordan (Carolina), David Legwand (Buffalo), J.T. Miller (New York Rangers), John Mitchell (Colorado), James Neal (Nashville), Michal Neuvirth (Philadelphia), Stefan Noesen (Anaheim), Rickard Rakell (Anaheim), Tyler Seguin (Dallas), Tom Sestito (Pittsburgh), Chris Terry (Carolina), Chris Thorburn (Winnipeg), Vincent Trocheck (Florida), Scott Wedgewood (New Jersey), Justin Williams (Washington), Tom Wilson (Washington) and James Wisniewski (Carolina).
The highest alum to be drafted in the NHL is Bryan Berard who was picked with the first overall selection by the Ottawa Senators in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. The next highest alums to be drafted after Berard are Tyler Seguin (2nd overall in 2010 by Boston) and David Legwand (2nd overall in 1998 by Nashville). At least one player has been drafted in all 25 years of the organization’s past dating back to 1991. The most players ever picked in an NHL draft came in 2000 when six Whalers were selected: Justin Williams, Tomas Kurka, Libor Ustrnul, Kris Vernarsky, Jared Newman and Nate Kiser.
The Firebirds currently have three NHL drafted players on the roster consisting of Brett Moran (Dallas), Alex Peters (Dallas) and Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit).
The NBC Sports Network will televise the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft throughout the United States live on Friday, June 24th from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. (ET). The NHL Network will carry rounds two-through-seven on Saturday, June 25th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (ET). Sportsnet will televise the 2016 NHL Entry Draft throughout Canada.
Visit FlintFirebirds.com for live coverage of the Flint Firebirds in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
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