With their second round pick in 2015, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected left winger Paul Bittner from the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. Bittner must have caught the attention of the Jackets due to his linemate - 2013 3rd Round Pick Oliver BJORKSTRAND. While BJORKSTRAND put up an eye-popping 63/55/118 line in 59 games in 2014-15, on the opposite side Bittner put up gaudy numbers of his own, with a 34/37/71 line in 66 games.
With BJORKSTRAND leaving for Cleveland, it was on Bittner to prove that he could replicate that production with new linemates. He maintained that same pace with 21 points in 25 games before his season was cut short by a hip injury in December.
In April the Jackets assigned Bittner to the Lake Erie Monsters where he played two games at the end of the regular season. He scored no points and did not play during their Calder Cup run.
OUTLOOK FOR 2016-17
Assuming his hip is good to go, look for Bittner to suit up for the Cleveland Monsters as they look to replace several key members of that title run. At 6’5” 205 lbs, Bittner has the size to play professionally. He’ll have to prove that he can score against the adults of the AHL like he could against the juniors of the WHL. If all goes according to plan, he could get an initial audition in Columbus as soon as the end of this season. It won’t be until 2018 that we see a fulltime reunion of those old Winterhawks linemates in the NHL.