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2019 CBJ Top 25 Under 25: #18 Paul Bittner has a powerful mustache

AHL: MAY 07 Calder Cup Playoffs - Toronto Marlies at Cleveland Monsters Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thanks to the over 80 of you who voted in our poll! Our Top 25 Under 25 countdown continues today :

#18: PAUL BITTNER

Voting

18th out of 34 eligible players
Writers’ Vote: 15th
Readers’ Vote: 20th
Highest Placement: 4th (1 vote)
Most Common Placement: 24th (7 votes)

Biography

Birthdate: November 4, 1996
Birthplace: Crookston, Minnesota
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 211 lbs
Position: Left wing
Acquired: Drafted by Columbus in Round 2 of the 2015 draft (#38 overall)

2018-19 Season

Paul Bittner first caught the attention of the Columbus Blue Jackets when he put up huge points playing with fellow Columbus draftee Oliver BJORKSTRAND with the Portland Winterhawks. Unfortunately, due to injuries and a wavering commitment to the game, he had not lived up the high expectations through his first two seasons in Cleveland. After playing just 82 games and scoring 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists), he rebounded in a big way with 9 goals and 22 assists in 50 games in 2018-19. For more on Bittner’s evolution (and grooming), we turn to our Monsters beat writer, Elaine Shircliff:

The 2018-19 season was far and away Paul Bittner’s best professional season of his career. This so happened to be the first time Bittner rocked his 1920 villain style mustache for the entire season. Coincidence? I think not.

Bittner started the season out as a more mature player. He seemed highly focused, driven, and strong. One of the best parts about Bittner was the fact he could play on any line. He hopped in wherever he was needed and took the role seriously. This could explain why in the first two months of the season Bittner had four multi point games.

When Bittner was hurt in the past, the team was not affected much by his loss. It was a completely different story when Bittner went was out with an injury from 12/19/18 to 01/19/19. The team seemed a tad bit lost without Bittner on the ice but were loving his cheerleader type attitude off the ice. One thing worth noting is how Bittner acted during games while injured during this past season. He was actively engaged in the game and you could see him take mental notes about the game. This helped Bittner pick up right where he left off. In his first game back from being injured, Bittner zipped around the ice leaving the opposition unable to stop him from notching a goal and an assist.

Bittner continued to play smart, skillful hockey for the rest of the season. He also was one of the most consistent players on the team this year.

At the end of the regular season, Bittner was 6th on the team in points (31) and tied for 4th in assists (22) with Nathan Gerbe, Alex Broadhurst, and Zac Dalpe.

2019-20 Forecast

You may or may not have heard that Columbus has some openings at the left wing position. There is a crowded field of prospects vying for those spots, and Bittner has a chance to play himself into the mix. It’s most likely that he spends another season with Cleveland, but if he continues to build on last season, he could earn a call-up if there are injuries with the big club. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the season, which provides another reason for him to play well and earn a long term spot with this organization.