BUFFALO – Flint Firebird forwards Will Bitten and Nick Caamano became the first ever Flint Firebirds to be drafted into the National Hockey League on Saturday, June 25. The two were chosen in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Bitten was picked by the Montreal Canadiens 70th overall in round three. The Dallas Stars picked up Bitten in the fifth round, 146th overall.
Bitten, a right winger from Glouster, Ont. played in 67 games for Flint last season, scoring 30 goals and 35 assists.
Caamano scored 20 goals to go with 17 assists over 64 games with the Firebirds. Caamano is left winger from Ancaster, Ont.
Vili Saarijarvi ws traded to Mississauga on Friday, June 24. In exchange Flint gets forward Everett Clark, Sudbury’s second-round pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, Mississauga’s fifth-round pick in the 2019 OHL draft and a conditional second-round pick from Mississauga in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection.
Saarijarvi expressed the desire for a new start after all the tumultuous negative attention garnered by the Firebirds last season after owner Rolf Nilsen fired the coaching staff twice and then was suspended for five seasons.
On Friday, June 24, Dennis Busby committed to the Firebirds, resulting in all three top picks choosing Flint. He joins forwards Ty Dellandrea and Hunter Holmes to sign with the Firebirds.
The Firebirds open the 2016-17 season on Wednesday, Sept. 21 against the Saginaw Spirit. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Dort Federal Event Center. Last season Flint beat Saginaw 3-2 in a shootout to claim the Coors Light I-75 Divide Cup on March 2. Training camp starts on Aug. 29 at DFEC and is open to the public. – L.P.