Paul Bittner is the type of prospect that scouts love. He's got size, strength, and decent top speed, as well as a very good shot. Essentially, he's the type of player that scouts will watch and start dreaming about power forwards of years past.
Place of Birth: Crookston, Minnesota.
Position: Left Wing
Heigth: 6’4" Weight: 194 lbs
Described as "a behemoth of a kid", Bittner uses his imposing stature to make space for himself and his teammates, which led him to a rather successful draft season with the Winterhawks, to the tune of 71 points in 66 games. It's worth noting that his production was almost evenly split among goals and assists, indicating that his favourite weapon, his shot, isn't his only asset. Bittner finished 36th among WHL scorers in terms of points per game, and 30th when you add an even-strength filter.
Unfortunately, Bittner suffers from indiscipline, and it's been said that he avoids going straight to the net, preferring to hover around the high scoring chances hoping for a rebound. While his top speed is above average, he does suffer from acceleration issues.
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A big-bodied power forward that plays with tenacity and an edge. Relentless on the forecheck and is able to bully his way to the net with his size and speed. Has a good stick around the net and has an accurate rocket of a shot. Thinks the game well and is able to frustrate opposing players while playing physically. All-in-all, an impact player that uses his size and skill to his advantage. Gaining consistency will be integral to his future success.
"An extremely raw power forward with so many tools, many of which are still underdeveloped, but also has loads of growth potential that has NHL scouts very excited for the player he could become for their teams. Has the potential to become a top six goal scorer…or a complete bust."
"He's going to be huge. He'll be a 220-pound guy," John Williams of NHL Central Scouting said. "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."
Future Considerations: 29th
Craig Button: 24th
Central Scouting Service, North American Skaters: 26th
International Scouting Service: 17th
Hockey Prospectus Mock Draft: 16th
Fans and pundits alike will be quick to state that the Habs need to add more size to their ranks, and Bittner may in fact be the right prospect to add to the pool, however there's the very real concern that he accumulated his points by playing alongside Nic Petan and Olivier Bjorkstrand.
That's not to say that he's not a quality prospect, but there seem to be a lot of question marks when evaluating his NHL potential. He should probably be considered a high-risk high-reward prospect.
There's no doubt that he's an intriguing prospect, but considering the Habs only have one chance to pick a player in the top 60, it's worth questioning whether or not Bittner would be the right choice.