NHL Draft Prospect Profile #32 - Paul Bittner
Impressive size, scoring ability and proven chemistry with a top Columbus prospect make Paul Bittner an intriguing option.
Current Team: Portland Winterhawks, WHL
Date of Birth: November 4, 1996
Place of Birth: Crookston, Minnesota, USA
Weight: 194 lbs
At #32 in our survey, we get to Paul Bittner -- the quintessential power forward in the upper echelons of the draft. At 6'4" and somewhere between 194 and 204 pounds, depending upon which resource you consult, Bittner has the size to make an impact. Perhaps more importantly, he has the skill and attitude to leverage that size to maximum advantage. He is ranked #26 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and is #17 overall in the ISS Rankings, so ISS is obviously more impressed than the NHL at this point. Still, the NHL is plenty impressed:
He's going to be huge. He'll be a 220-pound guy . . . He's a smooth skater, really good hands and [can] make plays and good in tight along the wall. He protects the puck well and can retrieve pucks on the forecheck and obviously at that size the fact he's able to do those things, that's what people like. He's not a power forward in the classic sense of 200 penalty minutes. With his size and strength and reach, he's tough to handle. -- John Williams, NHL Central Scouting
Bittner has enjoyed a synergistic relationship with Blue Jackets' prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand in Portland, as Winterhawks' coach/GM Jamie Kompon explains:
. . . Paul is such a big guy he does create the space, he does create the attention, so it allows those type of players that like to hang onto the puck, whether it's Nic Petan or Oliver Bjorkstrand, the opportunity for another half-second or second with the puck.
Bittner has shown continuous progression in Portland, posting 71 points in 66 regular season games this season. Point per game production, plus all the size you need on the wing? Count me in.
A Good Fit in Columbus?
Bittner presents an interesting option if the Blue Jackets do not use the 34/38 picks to move up to a second first round pick, and potentially even if they do. There is an obvious discrepancy of opinion between the ISS rankings, which would have him going mid-first round, and the NHL Central Scouting view, which likely place him closer to an early second round prospect. He is at the older end of the draft class, and if Bjorkstrand contends for a spot with the big club, Bittner might move up the chart. It all depends on how the chips fall on draft day, as well as in any trades that may occur before then.
Bittner Up Close
Here's a sampling of what Bittner can bring on the ice.