Firebirds Officially Welcome 18 New Drafted Prospects to the Organization
Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds officially welcomed 18 draft prospects to the organization this weekend through the OHL Priority Selection, presented by Real Canadian Superstore.
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“We (hockey operation staff) were talking about how we addressed the need for a lot more speed,” Head Scout Mike Oliverio said. “The common denominator throughout the draft was pace, compete, and skill. We feel we filled a lot of the needs of the hockey club that helps make us a lot deeper and a lot stronger for years to come.”
The Firebirds kicked things off by adding forward Jeremy Martin from the U16 Toronto Marlboros out of the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL). Martin produced 28 G and 15 A in 32 GP, as well as added 3 G, and 1 A while going +3 in 5 GP at the OHL Cup. The Ajax, Ont. native stands at 6-foot-0, 179 pounds.
In the second round, the Firebirds added center Jimmy Lombardi (no relation to Firebirds forward Amadeus Lombardi) from the U16 Don Mills Flyers. He scored 13 G and 18 A in 36 GP this season with the Flyers. The 5-foot-11, 149-pound center comes from Toronto, Ont., and his 31 points ranked tied for 12th in the GTHL.
With the 32nd overall pick, the Firebirds added their first defenseman in Dryden Allen. The 6-foot-0, 158-pound Allen scored 2 G and added 22 A in 36 GP for the Southern Tier Admirals. The left-handed blueliner’s 22 A ranked 3rd among all defensemen in the South Central Triple A Hockey League (SCTA).
Flint wrapped up the night by selecting two high-ceiling players in the third round. With the 56th overall pick, they added a right-handed defenseman in Luka Graziano. The 5-foot-8, 154-pound native of Toronto, Ont. is coming off a very successful season with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens who won the OHL Cup. He led all defensemen at the OHL Cup with 8 Pts (4 G, 4 A) in 7 GP.
Rounding out Day 1 with the very next pick, the Firebirds selected center Max Anderson, who was teammates with Jimmy Lombardi with the Don Mills Flyers. The Stouffville, Ont. native stands at 5-foot-9, 145-pounds. In 16 GP with the Flyers this year, Anderson scored 8 G while adding 2 A and 44 PIMs.
The first pick of Day 2 for the Firebirds saw them land a very skilled centerman out of Ottawa, Ont. in Chase Hull. The 5-foot-10, 163-pound Hull scored 33 G and added 30 A in 35 GP for the U18 Renfrew Wolves out of the Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO). His 33 G and 63 Pts were tied for 5th in the HEO U18.
They followed up in the fifth round with another skilled center, and the first American of the draft, Cullen Potter. The Hortonville, Wis. native played for the U16 Dallas Stars elite where he scored 43 G and 44 A in 52 GP. Then in the sixth, Flint went back to defense taking right-hand shot blueliner Jack D’Arcy out of Cambridge, Ont. In 33 GP for the U16 Cambridge Hawks, D’Arcy produced 4 G, 8 A, and 60 PIMs.
In the seventh round, they selected their first netminder in Nathan Maguire out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The 5-foot-11, 159-pound netminder carried a 1.69 GAA in 28 GP, four being shutouts, for the U18 Soo Jr. Greyhounds this past season. His GAA ranked 2nd in the Great North Midget Hockey League (GNML). With their second pick of the seventh round, the Firebirds picked up another U.S.-born player in right-handed defensemen Isaac Nelson. Nelson, who hails from South, Lyon, Mich. and stands at 6-foot-2, 184-pounds, played for the Detroit Compuware 15s where he scored 3 G and 4 A in 11 GP.
In the eighth round, the Firebirds selected another player from the U18 Soo Jr. Greyhounds in 5-foot-9, 172-pound right-wing Brendan Cooke. The Thessalon, Ont. native produced 19 G and 18 A in 28 regular season games before exploding for 9 G and 6 A in just 5 GP in the GNML playoffs. With their ninth-round selection (175th overall) the Firebirds selected Evan Jardine out of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The 5-foot-8, 140-pound left-wing produced 47 G and 90 A in 81 GP for Detroit Little Caesars 15s this season.
The Firebirds went back to defense in the tenth round selecting Lukas Manikis out of Richmond Hill, Ont. The 5-foot-9, 148-pound left-handed defenseman scored 3 G and 29 A in 33 GP for the U16 York-Simcoe Express this past season. His 32 Pts ranked sixth among blueliners in the U16 ETAHL. In the tenth round, Flint selected Angelo Maggioni, also out of Richmond Hill, Ont. The 5-foot-9, 147-pound left-wing scored 2 G and 2 A in 33 GP for the U16 Mississauga Sens.
In the 12th round, the Firebirds added their second goaltender to the class selecting Ethan Phillips out of Greece, N.Y. The 6-foot-176-pound netminder posted a 1.74 GAA in 35 GP this year with the Bishop Kearney Selects 15s.
They followed up with two defensemen in the 13th round. Rylan Fellinger, also from the U18 Soo Jr. Greyhounds, was selected 255th overall. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. scored 2 G and 12 A in 25 GP. Five picks later, they selected another right-handed defenseman in Emerson Wilkinson. Out of Newmarket, Ont., Wilkinson stands at 6-foot-1, 193-pounds, and scored 3 G and 8 A in 27 GP for the U18 Barrie Colts.
Rounding out the 2023 Draft class, the Firebirds selected left winger Landon Copeland. A native of Chatham, Ont., Copeland stands at 5-foot-7, 165-pounds. He scored 13 G and 6 A in 33 GP for the U16 Chatham-Kent Cyclones.
The 18 selections tied the franchise record for most picks in a single draft year since moving to Flint in 2015. In total, the Firebirds selected nine forwards, six defensemen, and two goaltenders.
About the Ontario Hockey League:
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.
About The Flint Firebirds:
The Flint Firebirds are a proud member of the prestigious 20-team Ontario Hockey League. The OHL is one of three leagues that constitute the 60-team Canadian Hockey League (CHL), which is known as the world’s premiere player development league for the NHL. On NHL opening day rosters in October, 70% of NHL players were CHL alums. Since the Firebirds’ inception in Flint, Michigan five seasons ago, the team has produced 25 NHL-signed or drafted players. More than 300 scouts representing all 32 NHL clubs attended a Firebirds game in Flint during the 2022-23 season. The Firebirds average nearly 3,000 fans per game at the newly renovated Dort Financial Center, reaching over 100,000 fans each OHL season.
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Flint Firebirds Hockey Club