Flames Second Round Targets 2016: Will Bitten

If you can’t score in juniors, you’re probably going to have a hard time making it as a professional hockey player in the NHL. That isn’t always the case, but if you don’t have the raw talent and skills to score at the lower levels, your chances of making the NHL on the regular probably aren’t that great.

And while not every draft pick turns into an NHLer, it’s nice to get as many of them as you can out of the picks you have.

So let’s talk Will Bitten, the 5’10, 167 lb. 17-year-old right winger who, amidst the chaos that was the Flint Firebirds’ season, scored 30 goals and 65 points in 67 games to lead his team.

Scouting reports

Elite Prospects:

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.

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. … 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.

Brock Otten, OHL Prospects:

Other than size, perhaps the biggest concern for Bitten is the wavering intensity in the defensive end. He’s a sparkplug in the offensive end, but he needs to find a way to transfer that to the backcheck and to play in his own end. He definitely has the potential to be a major asset on the PK and as a two-way player.

The Numbers

The Flint Firebirds were a disaster on many levels this past season, and Bitten was pretty much the lone bright spot. His 65 points saw him factor into 36% of the Firebirds’ scoring, and it needs to be pointed out that they were one of the worst teams in the OHL. Only four teams don’t make the playoffs; Flint was one of them. They were ahead of the Guelph Storm in their own division, and that’s it.

Bitten scored 30 goals; only two other guys on his team even reached the 20 mark. He had 65 points; second in team scoring was Ryan Moore, who had 48 points. Bitten – who doesn’t turn 18 until July 10 – was the offence.

Consider: 50 of his 65 points were primary. Forty-two of his points came at even strength, and 37 of those points were primary. 

Roughly 57% of Bitten’s total offence comprised of even strength primary points. Considering the disastrous state his team was in, it was all the more impressive he was the one doing most of the generating.

Fit with the Flames

I know he’s small – apparently I have a thing for profiling smaller forwards – but he’s a young, impactful right winger who can carry a team and put the puck in the net, even when playing in an unideal situation. That’s a good indication of character.

That, and the passion scouting reports say he has. He doesn’t just score; he’s a pain to deal with defensively, as well. If he can figure out that part of the game, as well as how to ensure his size isn’t a disadvantage, the he could turn into a real gem for an NHL team. A better Paul Byron, perhaps?

Conclusion

Bitten is ranked from a late first round pick to a second round guy. His size, combined with the situation in Flint, will likely see him drop some spots. The Flames currently have three second round picks – and if he’s still around for the later ones, he could be an absolute steal.

Depending on who’s still available at 35th overall, he might even be a consideration there as well.

Previous draft targets: Alexander Nylander | Pierre-Luc Dubois | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi | Clayton Keller | Alex DeBrincat | Sam Steel | Vitalii Abramov | Jake Bean | Tyson Jost | Mikhail Sergachev | Tyler Benson | Griffin Luce | Logan Brown | Samuel Girard

  • knappsacked

    The more second round targets come out, the more i dont want BT to trade any of our picks because i fall in love with every new players skillset. Except the defender…luce? Ill pass on him

  • wot96

    “Defensively, a buzzsaw that will not let up on the opposition” versus “wavering intensity in the defensive end”. I suppose the two turns of phrase aren’t mutually exclusive if the first quote really meant to add “until he gets to his own zone” or something. You just wonder how many times these guys get scouted when you have two more or less contradictory statements about the same player.

    He has offence, he is a righty, he plays the RW, he is skilled and fast and if the worst case scenario is that he is another Paul Byron, well so what? I hear Byron has himself a career.

  • Lombardi

    Little off topic but just wanted to tip my hat to flames nation, I am loving the material you guys are coming out with every day and am consistently reading every article. Always keeping it interesting. Great work! As for Bill Bitten, looks good!

  • Parallex

    There are three guys I’m crossing my fingers are available to the Flames come the Dallas and Florida 2nd round picks… Bitten is one of them (the other two are Wade Allison *Profile on him please* and Tyler Benson).

  • Franko J

    I just think Will Bitten is going to be a player in the NHL. The combination of speed, skill, and character are hard to dismiss.
    I hope he will be available in the second round.

  • freethe flames

    Bitten reminds me of RH Mangipane.

    There are a number of rH forwards available where the Flames pick at 35, 54, 56, 66 and 96. If they are the best player available at these spots is up to the flames to decide.

    At 35 (using the combined Central scouting numbers created by the hockey writers are: Laberge(33), Abramov(34), Kyrou(41) , Bastian (42) and Raddysh(44).

    At 54 and 56: Karshkove(47), Bitten (57) and because I was impressed with him at the Memorial Cup Pu(105).

    At 65: Smith(74), Kuznetsov(75) and J Anderson(76)

    At 96: Allison(88) and Tuulola(97).

    There are some big boys in this group and considering our lack of RH prospects that some of them might be drafted by the Flames.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I think the Flames can package all 3 Second round draft picks to secure another pick in the first round. I seem to remember hearing that Minnesota only has 4 draft picks in this year’s draft. If that is the case, they may be a willing partner to take our 3 second round picks ( 35, 54, and56)for their # 15 pick, which we could use to draft Gauthier.

    Why Calgary would want to do it.

    They get the highly coveted big power forward allowing them to use their first round pick on average size but highly skilled forward like Nylander or Keller.
    Calgary gets potentially 2 highly regarded RWers. They address both size and skill in their top 6.
    If by chance, Gauthier goes before #15, the flames can turn their attention to Jones.

    Why Minnesota would want to do it

    According to some, there is a distinct ledge after 12 so it could be argued that a player taken after 12 will have a similar upside to a Second rounder. Minnesota now has 6 draft picks compared to only 4…more bullets in the chamber…if you will.

    • KiLLKiND

      Gauthier would be great to get, but what we’re offering wouldn’t get us into the top 20, and as a side note I want nothing to do with having Jones on this team. Anybody that laughs as they are getting kicked out for doing an illegal headshot and injuring the opponent screams issues that I don’t want to be associated with the Flames. I hated Cooke, Avery and other dirty players around the league he is exactly the kind of player that I don’t want on a team I cheer for and only hope he gets headshotted himself.

      As far as adressing the RW hopefully we can either trade into the 20-30 range and pick up one of Debrincat, Abramov, Laberge, hope one of them fall or take Tage Thompson, or Carl Grundstrum with our 2nd.

    • Franko J

      I disagree, I think long term Bitten will be a better pro than Gauthier or Jones.

      Besides I think Treliving places a high value on second round picks.

      If the Flames were going to give up 3 second round picks I sure hope they get a player who can contribute immediately. Both Jones and Gauthier are easily two to three years out to potentially making the Flames.