Paul Bittner: Colorado Avalanche 2015 NHL Draft Profile


Paul Bittner: Colorado Avalanche 2015 NHL Draft Profile

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The 2014-15 season was unfortunately cut short for the Colorado Avalanche. That means that here at Mile High Sticking, we have a long off-season ahead of us. While the off-season is filled with all different kinds of articles, regarding the playoffs (that we are unfortunately not a part of), Avalanche season reviews, and many other things, it also gives us time to focus on the Colorado Avalanche 2015 NHL Draft.

Today we are taking a look at power forward Paul Bittner. He was previously regarded as one of the top-3 WHL prospects, but dropped down on virtually every ranking.

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Name: Paul Bittner

Position: Left wing

Shoots: Left

Height, weight: 6’4″, 205 lbs

Team/League: Portland Winterhawks, WHL

Stats (from 













Risk, Reward: 2/5, 4/5

NHL-potential: Top-six scoring winger

Player comparison: James van Riemsdyk, Max Pacioretty

Draft Range: Top-45

Scouting report

Paul Bittner is a big-bodied winger that combines a strong two-way game with the ability to score. He skates well for his size, but could improve the power of his first few strides. According to WHL scout Cody Nickolet, Bittner’s footwork is “still a bit clunky”, but “his top-speed is well above average for a player of his stature”.

The one standout feature about Bittner is his NHL-quality shot and his ability to get it off. Nickolet says that Bittner “understands shooting lanes and angles and how to get in the proper shooting position against tight gaps or good sticks.” His stick handling is fairly good, but he doesn’t use it very creatively in front of the net. Getting off a quick wrist shot or a heavy slap shot is his thing, rather than dangling much. Bittner also likes to stand in front of the net to screen the goalie and deflect shots.

One thing that makes scouts think about Bittner’s abilities twice is that he spent most of the season playing alongside Winnipeg Jets 2013 draft pick Nicolas Petan and Columbus Blue Jackets 2013 draft pick Oliver Bjorkstrand — two of the WHL’s best forwards. WHL scout Krzysztof Goldecki says Bittner “relies too much on the talent from the top Winterhawks players to create plays and scoring chances for him” and he “Bittner needs to start creating offense for himself to take that next step in becoming a better prospect”.

Winterhawks head coach Jamie Kompon said that Paul Bittner makes the players around him better. The consensus in scout circles seems to be that he is made better by the players around him, though. Cody Nickolet says that Bittner’s hockey sense stood out as a 16-year-old, but “haven’t been as prevalent or impressive the last couple of years”.

When you compare Bittner with fellow 2015 draft prospect Lawson Crouse, who is another 6-foot-4 power forward, there is one important difference that will also be one important difference-maker in the draft rankings. As opposed to Crouse, Bittner doesn’t throw his body around as much as you would expect or hope to see from a player with their frame. However, that doesn’t mean that he is bad defensively or doesn’t use his body at all.

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  • Bittner’s defensive positioning is very good and he knows how to use his stick and long reach to force turnovers. He also does try to carry out hits at times, but needs to do so more consistently. When in the corners, defensively or offensively, Bittner knows how to use his body to separate the puck and his opponents.

    It remains to be seen whether Bittner can also excel in the NHL without the help of dominant forward partners. If he rounds out his game and reaches his full potential, Bittner can be a top-six sniper. Krysztof Goldecki compares him to James van Riemsdyk, Cody Nickolet to Max Pacioretty — if he reaches his potential. If not, he could be a bottom-six defensive forward.

    Fit with the Avalanche

    As said above, Paul Bittner has dropped down on virtually every draft ranking. Before the 2014-15 season and over the first few months, he was often ranked above fellow WHL forwards Jansen Harkins and Nick Merkley. It is still possible that he gets selected before Harkins and/or Merkley, though.

    He is really only an interesting player for the Avalanche if he drops all the way into the early second round or if the Avalanche acquire a late first round pick. If that was to happen, Bittner would be exactly what Patrick Roy wants — a big power forward. On a line with Nathan MacKinnon, he could become a real threat in the future. Even if he doesn’t reach his full potential, he could be a great checking forward with scoring ability on the third line.

    If the Avs opt for Mikko Rantanen or Lawson Crouse with the tenth overall pick, it is unlikely that they would select another 6-foot-4 winger with their second selection. If they go with Zach Werenski or Ivan Provorov, though, Bittner would be a great option for a second pick.

    More Draft Coverage:

    2015 NHL Draft Profile List

    Conor Garland

    Jérémy Lauzon

    Brandon Carlo

    Pavel Zacha

    Timo Meier

    Mikko Rantanen

    Revisiting Avalanche Early Draft Options

    Next: Draft Profile: Nicolas Meloche

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