Paul Bittner
Image: CHL Images

Paul Bittner

Hometown:

Crookston Minnesota

Currently Playing In:

CHL

Birthday:

1996-11-04

Position:

LW

Eligible for draft:

2015

Shoots:

Left

Drafted:

2015

Height:

6-4

Acquired:

2nd Round (38th Overall), 2015

Weight:

198 lbs.

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History

2011-12: Paul Bittner played for Team Northeast in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League in Minnesota in the fall and played for Crookston High School in northwest Minnesota. He scored 15 goals with 6 assists and 10 penalty minutes in 25 games for Crookston as a ninth-grader. Crookston finished seventh in the Mariucci Conference and lost to Park Rapids, 3-1, in the Section 8A quarterfinals. Bittner scored 8 goals with 4 assists and was +10 in 10  games for Team Northeast.

2012-13: Bittner elected to play major junior hockey instead of staying at Crookston High School, attending training camp with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and making the team as a free agent. He skated in 45 of 72 regular season games for Portland, scoring 12 goals with 11 assists, and was +8 with 12 penalty minutes. The Winterhawks finished first in the U.S. Division and defeated Edmonton in the playoff finals to win the first WHL championship in club history. Bittner saw limited ice time in 19 playoff games, finishing -4 with no points nor penalties. He had no points and was -2 in five Memorial Cup games as the Winterhawks reached the championship game, falling 6-4 to Halifax.

2013-14: Bittner showed tremendous growth in his second season in the WHL with Portland and played for the USA U18 team in the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. He scored 22 goals with 27 assists in 63 regular season games and was +25 with 27 penalty minutes. Portland finished first in the U.S. Division and reached the WHL finals, falling to eventual Memorial Cup champion Edmonton. Bittner scored 6 goals with 6 assists and was +10 with 11 penalty minutes in 21 playoff contests. He scored 2 goals with 1 assist in five games for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

2014-15:Bittner was the Portland Winterhawks’ fourth-leading scorer in his third WHL season. He scored 34 goals with 37 assists and was +39 with 52 penalty minutes in 66 regular season games. The Winterhawks finished second to Everett in the U.S. Division but defeated the Silvertips in the second round of the playoffs before falling to Kelowna in the Western Conference finals. Bittner scored 4 goals with 8 assists and was -2 with 6 penalty minutes in 17 playoff games. He played for Team Orr in the 2015 CHL Top Prospects Game and was ranked 26th amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings. Bittner was elected by Columbus in the second round (38th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft. 

2015-16: Bittner signed a three-year entry-level contract with Columbus in August 2015 before returning to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Expected to carry the load with players like Chase De Leo, Nic Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand moving on to the pro ranks, he appeared to be hitting his stride before suffering a season-ending hip injury that required surgery in early December. In his last six games before the injury Bittner scored six goals — finishing the season with 10 goals and 11 assists in 21 games. He was -4 with 21 penalty minutes. Portland finished third in the U.S. Division, facing second-place Everett in a first-round playoff series. 

Talent Analysis
Bittner is a big, lanky forward with a long reach who disrupts passing lanes and creates distractions for opponents. He has developed a quick release, and his foot speed has increased during his junior career. There have been some whispers that Bittner needs to play a harder game physically.
Future

Bittner skated in just 21 games in 2015-16, undergoing season-ending hip surgery in December 2015 and missing an opportunity to play for the USA at the 2016 World Juniors. Signed to an entry-level contract, Bittner will head into training camp looking to earn a spot either with the Blue Jackets or AHL affiliate Lake Erie. He is also eligible to return to Portland for an overage season. Long-term he projects as a scoring forward with some size.

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