Paul Bittner THW Close-Up:
Date of birth: 11/4/1996
Place of birth: Crookston, Minnesota
Ht: 6’4″ Wt: 194 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2015
THW The Next Ones Rankings (February): 26
THW War Room Rankings (March): 18
HockeyProspect.com (February): not ranked
Last Word On Sports (February): 14
Craig Button (March): 24
CS Final Rankings for North American skaters (April): 26
There are a handful of power forwards in this year’s draft that not only have brute size and strength, but also skill. I touched on Lawson Crouse, Mikko Rantanen, and Jordan Greenway already in my previous prospect profiles, but this one focuses on Portland Winterhawks left winger, Paul Bittner.
Standing 6’4″, Bittner is on a talented Winterhawks team that continually produces elite level talent each and every draft over the past few years. He’s played for Portland each of the last three seasons, each time improving on his skill set and offensive output. This year he finished the regular season with 34 goals and 71 points.
As expected with many big-bodied forwards, Bittner has tremendous puck protection and wins many puck battles along the boards and in the corners. He uses his strength to power his way to the front of the net and jam pucks past the goalie. But he’s doesn’t just rush like a bull to the crease. He also has an impressive wristshot and slapshot that he doesn’t hesitate to tee up. A gritty player as well, Bittner has dropped the gloves a few times this year.
While he is a powerful skater, his stride and edgework a little choppy, but that shouldn’t be too hard to fix. He does use his size and strength to his advantage, but from the Winterhawks games I’ve watched this season, you just wanted to see him use it even more. It’s not always the most consistent effort with Bittner, but once he fully grows into his body and realizes just how powerful he is, he’ll be difficult to deal with.
Where Will He End Up In June:
Bittner should be available in the late part of the 1st round, but may slip to the early 2nd round before a team picks him.
“A big body that is hard to move…possesses a powerful stride that is hard to stop once he gets going…wide skating base allows him to bull his way around the ice and power through his checks…shows some decent hockey sense and awareness…possesses decent vision and quick hands…has room to add some serious muscle to his already impressive frame…has a long reach…physical play could be ramped up…still learning the defensive game, and is raw, but talented, in aspects…combination of size, hands and vision could make him a formidable offensive force in the future. (August 2014)”
“Far from a complete package, it’s Bittner’s raw tools that warrant a high ranking for the upcoming draft and he’s likely to be off the board before the end of the opening round. He’s a good skater given his rangy frame and at his best when playing to his strengths, which are battling along the boards and using a chip-and-chase attacking game. He displays above-average hockey sense and is a tenacious forecheck who wields a quick stick capable of forcing turnovers. Bittner’s game lacks the nastiness and power that teams ideally want in a power forward but that wavering competitiveness is starting to turn the corner. He will never play heavy where he’ll dominate through pure strength but his noteworthy puck skills are intriguing in a whole different way and some think he could end up developing into a lengthy north-south scoring forward. Through 53 games with Portland, Bittner has 26 goals and 52 points.”
Brendan Ross – Dobber Sports
Bittner played for Team USA once in his career last season in the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He scored two goals and one assist in five games.
Risk: 1/5 Reward: 4/5
2nd line LW with goal scoring potential.
Crashes the net
Plays in the dirty areas
Wins puck battles
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
Using his size/strength more consistently
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive: 7/10 Defensive: 3/10
NHL Player Comparison:
– NHL comparison: Scott Hartnell
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph