Firebirds Strongly Represented at NHL Training Camps
FLINT, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds are heavily represented as NHL teams begin to open their training camps in advance of the 2023-23 season. 19 current or former Firebirds have been invited to participate in training camp for a total of 14 different NHL teams.
Six players from Flint’s preseason roster are participating in NHL camps, headlined by forward Gavin Hayes. Hayes put up 41 goals and 40 points in 66 games during the 2022-23 season, was second on the team in both goals and points. Hayes’ 41 goals were also tied for ninth most in the OHL. He was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the third round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and has been signed to an entry-level contract, thus will spend camp with the Blackhawks.
Defenseman Tristan Bertucci, selected by the Dallas Stars in the second round in the 2023 draft, will join the Stars for training camp. He tallied 11 goals and 39 assists in the 2022-23 season and at #61 overall, is the highest NHL draft pick on Flint’s roster.
Forward Coulson Pitre, a third-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2023, has been invited to camp with the Ducks. He was selected 65th overall following a season in which he had 25 goals and 35 assists, with 60 points placing him fourth on the team in scoring.
Goaltender Nathan Day, taken by Edmonton in the sixth round of the 2023 draft, will open camp with the Oilers and forward Ethan Hay, a seventh-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, will join the Bolts. Additionally, defenseman Blake Smith has been invited as a free agent to Boston Bruins camp.
Four overage-eligible Firebirds who played for Flint in the 2022-23 season will be present at NHL camps. Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit), Artem Guryev (San Jose), Braeden Kressler (Toronto) and Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg) are eligible to play for Flint in the 2023-24 season and have each signed NHL entry-level contracts with their respective NHL teams.
Finally, nine Firebirds alumni enter the NHL preseason with NHL contracts for the 2023-24 season. Goaltender Will Cranley (2022-23), defenseman Tyler Tucker (2019-20) and forward Will Bitten (2015-16) are each signed to NHL contracts with the St. Louis Blues, forwards Nick Caamano (2015-18) and Ty Dellandrea (2016-20) are with the Stars, forward Brennan Othmann (2019-22) is with the New York Rangers, defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok (2018-20) is with the Arizona Coyotes, goaltender Kyle Keyser (2015-16) is with Boston and goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (2015-16) is with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Since the franchise relocated to Flint in 2015, there have been 29 Firebirds drafted or signed by NHL teams and 14 have appeared in an NHL regular or preseason game.
The Firebirds continue their preseason on Thursday, September 21 at 7:05 p.m. in Windsor with their third game against the Spitfires. Flint then concludes its preseason on Friday, September 22 at 7:05 p.m. on the road in Sarnia against the Sting.