Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds’ streak of having at least one player drafted every year of the NHL Draft since their move to Flint in 2015 looks to continue this week as the 2022 NHL Draft is set to take place tonight and tomorrow at the Bell Centre in Montreal, QC. Round 1 begins Thursday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET, available to watch on ESPN and ESPN+ in the U.S. and Sportsnet in Canada. Rounds 2-7 take place Friday, July 8 at 11:00 a.m., available to watch in the U.S. on NHL Network and Sportsnet in Canada.
Firebirds forwards Gavin Hayes, Amadeus Lombardi and Simon Slavicek have all been ranked in NHL prospect rankings leading up to the Draft. The Ontario Hockey League is the #1 development league in the world for sending players to the NHL. This season, 63 players from the OHL were included on NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings.
The 6-foot-1 LW set franchise rookie records in a single game and season points and assists this season, finishing the year with 19 G and 30 A. His 49 points were 4th on the team and 10th among all OHL rookies. The Firebirds 1st round pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection draft also finished 3rd among rookies for OHL playoff points (12) and goals (5).
Amadeus Lombardi is in his second year of draft eligibility and is expected to be selected after exceeding all expectations in his first year in the OHL.
Lombardi was a 13th round (#245 overall) selection by Flint back in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. In his first season, he produced 18 G and 41 A for 59 points which ranked 2nd on the team. He added 7 G and 8 A in the 2022 OHL Playoffs, also finishing second on the team with 15 points. The Aurora, Ont. native came in91st among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting and 202nd overall by McKeen’s Hockey.
Simon Slavicek came to Flint midway through the season and produced 6 G and 7 A in 40 GP this season for the Firebirds. Flint’s 1st round pick the 2021 Import Draft also added 1 G and 3 A in 9 GP during the playoffs. Slavicek, the Czechia native, spent his last five years of hockey before Flint playing for HC Slavia Praha, splitting time between the U20 and professional team the previous two seasons. He was ranked 196th overall by Draft Prospects Hockey after receiving being listed on NHL Central Scouting’s Midseason Rankings with a “Limited Viewing” designation.
The 2022 NHL draft is first-year 2004-born prospects are eligible to be drafted. Additionally, select 2002 and 2003-born players will be eligible as well. To be eligible, players must be 18 years old by Sept. 15 and under 20 years old by Dec. 31 in the draft year.
Zacharie Giroux, Luca D’Amato, Ty Petrou, Samuel Assinewai, Michael Maclean, and Ian Michelone are among the rest of the draft-eligible players for the Firebirds.
Flint’s best showing at an individual NHL Draft is two players selected, which has happened in four of the six NHL Drafts since the Firebirds have been a member of the OHL. Flint has the opportunity to set a franchise record this weekend if three or more Firebirds hear their name called.
In 2019, defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok was taken in the second round (#52 overall) by the Florida Panthers, and forward Ethan Keppen was selected in the fourth round (#122nd overall) by the Vancouver Canucks.
Since the Flint Firebirds’ inception five seasons ago in 2015, the club has already had 22 drafted or NHL-signed players on its roster consisting of Will Bitten (Montreal), Dennis Busby (Arizona), Nick Caamano (Dallas), Connor Chatham (New Jersey), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas), Fedor Gordeev (Toronto), Kyle Keyser (Boston Bruins), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver), Braeden Kressler (Toronto), Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida), Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg), Nick Mattinen (Toronto), Brent Moran (Dallas), Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina), Evgeniy Oksentyuk (Dallas), Brennan Othmann (NY Rangers), Alex Peters (Dallas), Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit), Kole Sherwood (Columbus), Jalen Smereck (Arizona), Tyler Tucker (St. Louis) and Josh Wesley (Carolina).