The Florida Panthers announced that the club has signed Flint Firebirds’ defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok to a three-year entry-level contract. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Kolyachonok, 18, agreed to terms with Florida while attending the Panthers’ Training Camp this week. He became the second-highest player ever to be selected out of Flint Firebirds’ organization when he was picked by the Panthers in the second-round, 52nd overall in this past NHL Draft in June.
“On behalf of the Flint Firebirds’ organization, we want to congratulate Vladislav and his family on signing with the Florida Panthers,” said Flint Firebirds Vice President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Barclay Branch. “Vladislav’s hard work and commitment has paid off and we could not be happier for him.”
Kolyachonok, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound native of Minsk, Belarus, finished second among all rookie defenseman in the OHL this season, setting a record for most points by a rookie in a Firebirds’ uniform with 30 points (4G, 26A) in 54 games. He was the first ever Flint Firebird to be named to the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) First All-Rookie Team for the 2018-19 season. Along with earning the honor on the league level, he was tabbed as Flint’s ‘Best Defenseman’ at the end-of-year Firebirds’ player awards banquet.
“It’s pretty hard to find words, I’m extremely excited to be a part of a team who wants me and now I know that Florida believes in me,” said Kolyachonok at the NHL Draft. “Being in Flint has been a really good experience. I was traded from London to Flint and I play a lot of minutes in Flint now. I think it’s one of the best experiences in my life.”
On the international level, Kolyachonok was named captain of Belarus’ National Men’s Under-18 Team for the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Sweden where he finished second on his team and third among all defenseman in the tournament with five points (1G, 4A) in six games.
Since the Flint Firebirds’ inception just four season ago in 2015, the club has now had 17 drafted or NHL signed players on its roster consisting of Will Bitten (Montreal Canadiens), Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Nick Caamano (Dallas Stars), Connor Chatham (New Jersey Devils), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Kyle Keyser (Boston Bruins), Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers), Nick Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs), Brent Moran (Dallas Stars), Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes), Alex Peters (Dallas Stars), Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit Red Wings), Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets), Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) and Josh Wesley (Carolina Hurricanes).
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 four seasons ago, the team has produced 17 NHL signed or drafted players. More than 250 scouts representing all 31 NHL clubs attended a Firebirds game in Flint throughout the 2018-19 season. The Firebirds average nearly 3,000 fans per game at the newly renovated Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center, reaching over 100,000 fans each OHL season.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club