Our next prospect had an interesting year to say the least. Will Bitten played for the Flint Firebirds. If you’re not familiar with what the team went through this year, you can read up on it here. Long story short, the team owner was an idiot. The team wasn’t good at all, either. But through all of this, Will Bitten had a hell of a year. Learn more about Will below.
From: Ottawa, ON, CAN
Weight: 163 lbs
Bob McKenzie Mid-Season: 40th
Craig Button: 29th
The Draft Analyst: 20th
NHL Central Scouting: 43rd (NA Skaters)
Future Considerations: 26th
Bitten has some interesting rankings. I think McKenzie’s final rankings will be telling. But no doubt, there’s people out there that see him as a first round talent. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked the lowest. In some recent mock drafts, Bitten has gone to the Bruins at 49th, and the Blue Jackets at 34th. He seems like someone who will be around at 41 for the Devils.
As you can see, Bitten has been a steady producer his entire career. Unfortunately for him, he’s played on horrible teams in the OHL. His rookie year he was on the Plymouth Whalers. The Whalers finished that year in the bottom four of the OHL, and it would end up being their last season in Plymouth. They moved to Flint and became the Flint Firebirds for the 2015-16 season. It somehow was a worse year for the Firebirds. Between the ownership problems and team struggles, it just wasn’t good. They finished as a bottom four team again. Those teams did have some bright spots, and Bitten was one of them.
Bitten was a 0.49 point per game player for Plymouth in 2014-15. This was very impressive considering he was 16 and playing on a horrible team. His recent year was even better. He lead the Firebirds in points with 65 in 67 games. He was far and away the team’s best player. The next highest scorer had 48 points. His point per game average was a 0.97. He lead the team in both goals and assists as well. He was a 30 goal scorer, while only one other player on Flint scored more than 20. Bitten has produced while playing for Team Canada as well. He put up 5 points in 5 games at the U17 World Hockey Challenge, and 8 points in 7 games at the U18 World Championship.
Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst:
“Bitten is somewhat undersized, but he has tremendous balance and escapability. He is a very good skater with excellent breakaway speed, and can beat defenders to the outside or turn them inside-out thanks to a variety of on-the-go jukes and fakes. He’s a disciplined solider who follows instruction, always willing to dial down his role in order to do what’s best of the team. Bitten knows what to do with the puck, owning a soft set of hands and excellent hand-eye coordination. He’s one of the draft’s best at making something out of nothing, and we think he’d be one of the circuit’s top scorers had he had more finishers to work with.”
“A smart offensive catalyst that consistently displays outstanding work ethic, elite hockey sense, and an ability to stay ahead of the play in all three zones. Very naturally gifted skater that moves around the ice with ease. Excels in pressure situations and uses his vision to predict where the puck is going to be, and proactively gets his body into a position where he can either take it away or take off up the ice. Offensively, he has a very creative streak, and knows what kinds of plays he can make in all situations; he also has an exceptional release on his shot, which he can get off quickly. Defensively, he is a buzzsaw that will not let up on the opposition, creating problems for them by causing turnovers and playing strong positionally. Will Bitten has all of the tools to become a very dangerous two-way forward that can produce strong numbers at the next level.”
Bill Placzek, Draft Site:
“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 climb the rungs.”
Nick Tropper, ISS Mentorship Scout:
“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.”
Bitten is universally praised by all four of these people. Each person talks about how Bitten is a hard working player with skill and vision. I like how he plays without the puck. He can create turnovers, gives the opposition problems, and is very good positionally. He might be a little small for a center in the NHL, but he could become a solid winger. I love what everyone says about his offense. He’s creative with the puck and has great vision. One thing that really stands out is that he can finish offensively. Elite Prospects mentions that he has an explosive shot and a quick release, and that he’s a gifted skater with solid vision. These quotes make him out to be a solid two-way forward with middle six potential.
Scoring Line’s Opinion
I would be ecstatic if the Devils somehow landed Bitten at 41. Yes he is small, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t succeed in the NHL. We’ve seen smaller players do that recently. He put up almost a point per game for a team that was horrible, and played through some very hostile situations in Flint. He’s put up points everywhere he has played. I think Will could end up being a steal in the 2nd round. He’s a solid two-way player, and is someone I think could slide in the draft. If that’s the case, the Devils should look into getting him. He could be a important piece of the rebuild.
(Photo Courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)