William (Will) Bitten
2015-16 Team: Flint Firebirds (#41)
Date of birth: July 10th, 1998
Place of birth: Ottawa, ON
Ht: 5’10” Wt: 167 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking (February): 43
- Craig Button (TSN): 27
- HockeyProspect.com: Unranked
Bitten was a high-profile midget player, capturing the 2014 Ontario East Minor Hockey League Player of the Year and being selected 7th overall by the Plymouth Whalers in the 2014 OHL Draft. Though slightly undersized, Bitten has the tenacious playing style it takes for small stars in the NHL to succeed against much larger opponents. He has experienced a tumultous season with the Flint Firebirds and their messy ownership situation, but his pure offensive abilities could land him at the end of the first round. With Bitten, and his sometimes-risky style of play, his NHL potential likely lies in a top-6 role or nothing; this could lead him to drop to the second or even third rounds.
This 5’10” forward has a lot of qualities that teams look for in a high-octane scoring centre. His above-average skating speed, coupled with his great balance and strong stride, make him a very effective player on the cycle and behind the goal line. While he is still quite undersized and sometimes loses physical battles with larger players, he almost always makes the right plays at both ends of the ice.
Bitten can excel as both a sniper and a passer in the offensive zone. He has great on-ice vision, oftentimes seemingly being able to find players no one else can. While he has great puck handling ability, he can often try to do too much in the offensive zone rather than make the simple play. However, he puts in a solid effort at both ends of the rink and plays an aggressive style conducive to success for undersized forwards in the NHL. He could still stand to improve his shot and his defensive consistency, but his offensive abilities are likely what will be his bread and butter; this could mean a switch to winger in the NHL.
With the Firebirds’ messy ownership situation resolved for now, Bitten can put aside the off-ice issues that have been plaguing his team and focus on improving his draft stock. With the NHL’s reluctance to select small forwards decreasing in recent years, if Bitten can pick up his play for the rest of the season, he could be a candidate to slip into the first round.
NHL Draft Projection:
It’s unlikely a team selecting in the first round would take a chance on a prospect as risky as Bitten with their first pick. However, a team with multiple first rounders could feel inclined to take a chance on his high skill level. It’s more likely he ends up in the middle of the second round.
Lightweight speedster who is strong in his carries. His low center of gravity makes him hard to tag. Can score. Has soft, quick mitts and good IQ in the attack zone. Works hard and long on the forecheck, his size not an impediment. His set of gears and good anticipation yield many opportunities and the fact that he plays fearless in the dirty areas only makes opponents respect him more. Is committed and good with the biscuit in his own end. Doesn’t possess a big frame and is going to need weight room development to up the odds of his chances to make it. But you have to see his grit, desire and persistence as qualities that he can use to climb the rungs.
Bill Placzek, Draftsite.com
…smooth skater who isn’t afraid to hop up into the rush, carry the puck deep into the offensive zone, or take it to the net .. works effectively along the boards .. hits extremely hard, can level players with their heads down but needs to avoid leaving his feet .. stops up or twists and turns when gap closes which allows him to hang onto the puck and create with his skill .. extremely quick on his edges, buzzes around the ice ..
Scott Wheeler, McKeen’s Hockey
Hard working forward whose game has been consistent and steady all season, despite some awful playing conditions, which is impressive. Has some explosiveness and can finish offensively. Projects as a premium middle-six forward able to slide up and down the lineup.
Nick Tropper, ISS Mentorship Scout
— Craig Button (@CraigJButton) November 23, 2015
- Aggressive on the forecheck
- On-ice vision
- Puckhandling ability
- Effort in all three zones
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Shooting ability
- Faceoff ability
- Defensive play
Bitten’s pure skill level and competitiveness would look good on any of the top three lines, but his size makes him ill-fitted for a checking role. His future likely lies as a second- or third-line forward.
NHL Player(s) Comparison – Cam Atkinson
Risk = 2.5/5 Reward = 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive = 8/10 Defensive = 2/10
- 2013-2014 Ontario East Minor Hockey League Player of the Year
- 2015-2016 CHL Top Prospects Game
- 2015-2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Gold Medal
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 11, 2015
Shots From the Slot (Interesting Notes):
Bitten has had quite the breakout season in 2015-2016, first winning gold with Team Canada in the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Tournament before being named to the 2016 CHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver.
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Joseph Aleong is an At-Large writer for THW from Toronto, Ontario. He is a graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Follow him on Twitter @josephaleong11