2016 NHL Draft Profiles: Will Bitten

Will Bitten – 5’10, 167-pound center from the Flint Firebirds (OHL)

Will Bitten Rankings

  • Ranked #39 by
  • Ranked #26 by Craig Button
  • Ranked #73 by ISS Hockey
  • Ranked #28 by Future Considerations
  • Ranked #47 by McKeen’s Hockey
  • Ranked #43 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

Will Bitten Strengths

  • All things considered, Will Bitten had a pretty fantastic year. Remember the disaster that Flint was this year? Well, Bitten played through all of it, and found a way to get the job done. He led the Firebirds in scoring by a pretty wide margin and managed to be one of the top scoring 98’s in the league this year (second only to Mascherin and tied with Sokolov with 30 goals).
  • Bitten is most definitely undersized at 5’10 and pushing 170lbs, but you wouldn’t know it watching him play. He excels in traffic, consistently winning battles behind the net, along the boards, and near the crease. One of the reasons for that is that he always keeps his feet moving in the offensive end, and he is a terrific skater.
  • Another reason is that he processes the game very well and anticipates exceptionally well. He’s one of those guys that always finds himself in the right place at the right time.
  • Bitten’s speed is a major asset when it comes to stretching out opposing defences. He may have led the league in breakaways this year. But he’s more than just a speedster. His skill with the puck is terrific (an accolade he was recognized for in the Coaches Poll) and he’s able to create time and space for himself in other ways than with speed.

Will Bitten Weaknesses

  • 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. Added strength may help, but the desire needs to be there, too.
  • Projecting his position and impact at that position is difficult at this point. He was drafted into the OHL as a center, but has struggled down the middle as an OHL’er thus far (he was 40% on faceoffs this year, and struggled with defensive responsibilities). As such, does he profile more as a winger at the next level? And if so, are the size concerns magnified more, or less (probably depends on who you ask)?

The Verdict

Overall, Bitten is a great prospect. His performance (like Jordan Kyrou’s) at the U18’s was also excellent and should help to win over fans in scouting community who didn’t get the chance to see Flint all that often.

Will Bitten Career Notes

  • Drafted round 1, #7 overall by Plymouth Whalers in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection
  • Named HEO Player of the Year in 2013-14 with the Ottawa Jr. 67s
  • Recorded the most points in the OHL Gold Cup in 2013-14
  • Named to CHL Top Prospects Game in 2015-16
  • Scored one goal, one assist in four games while capturing gold at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial with Team Canada

Will Bitten Interview

Courtesy of The Pipeline Show:

On his family’s athletic background:
Both my parents are badminton Olympians. My mom went twice, and my dad went once. I think it was 1992 and 1996, Atlanta and Barcelona. That’s really cool. I have a younger brother that just got drafted by the Ottawa 67s. This was his OHL draft year. I have a cousin that plays in Europe right now (Sebastien Piche).

On describing his game and his time with the Ottawa Jr. 67s:
I like to put the puck in the net, but I think I am more of a playmaker. I see the ice really well and I use my hockey IQ. I like to get into the corners and drive the net. I’m a really fast forward. I like to play make. I can score. I also have good vision. My speed is one of my biggest factors on the ice.

We had some good years. I played my minor hockey with the Ottawa Junior 67s, and we always made the finals and the playoffs. In my last year in minor midget, the OHL Cup was pretty special. Our team was a really good team, especially for an Ottawa team. In Ottawa, wherever you live, that’s where you have to play. It was a really fun year, and now everyone is going their separate ways.

On being a high pick in the OHL Priority Draft:
When you go high, they expect you to put up some numbers and play really well. My first year in Plymouth was a really good experience. Especially moving away from at 16 was hard, but the older guys got me through it. They really helped me along. It was just pretty cool playing with guys like Alex Nedeljkovic and Sonny Milano.

On the relocation to Flint:
There was some rumours that the team might move when I was in Plymouth. In the summer, they announced we were going to Flint. For guys like me, in our NHL draft year, we’re kind of like, “oh, we have to move again?” You kind of want your draft year to be perfect, but we needed to go to new billets, a new team, a new rink.

On the tough season in Flint:
Obviously it was a really hard year, especially for my draft year. You don’t want it to go like that. At the start of the year, we did really well. I think we were second place at the start of the year. We were playing really well and were a really good team. Then we traded a few key players from our team, so from there it went downhill.

On his jump in production this season:
I think, in my second year in my league, I had more confidence through knowing the league. I had a really good start. I think I got better. I got a chance to play at the OHL Super Series, which was really cool. Playing at that top prospects game was another amazing experience. I think it’s because I had more confidence in my second year, so I doubled my points.

On his size:
I’m 5’10, 167 pounds. One of the things I have to work on is getting bigger.

On his role at the Ivan Hlinka:
It was different. At the Ivan Hlinka, I was a third-line winger. I was on the PK role, always on the PK and playing two ways. In Flint, I was the go-to guy trying to put offense up for the team.

Will Bitten Statistics

2010-11Gloucester Rangers Min Bantam AAOEMBHL AA792112|Playoffs31120
2011-12Ottawa Jr. 67s Minor Bantam AAA COEMBHL2833306330|Playoffs111392214
Ottawa Jr. 67s Bantam AAAOEBHL10110|
2012-13Ottawa Jr. 67s Bantam AAA COEBHL3029255426|Playoffs9471114
Ottawa Jr. 67s Minor Midget AAAOEMMHL21010|
2013-14Ottawa Jr. 67s Minor Midget AAA COEMMHL2936427818|Playoffs1159148
Ottawa Jr. SenatorsCCHL10110|
2014-15Plymouth WhalersOHL6315163116-11|
Canada Red U17WHC-1752350|
2015-16Flint FirebirdsOHL6730356532-29|
Canada U18WJC-18735825|

Will Bitten Video