As Team OHL hosted Team Russia in Game 4 of the CHL Canada Russia Series, there were several high-end 2016 NHL Draft prospects on display for a host of NHL scouts. And while Sarnia Sting forward Jordan Kyrou grabbed the spotlight with a nice drop pass before scoring his team's first goal of the game, it was Flint Firebirds centre William Bitten who stood out among the 2016-eligible players.
Lately, the Flint Firebirds have been making news for all the wrong reasons. After owner Rolf Nilsen fired his entire coaching staff following a come from behind victory, the Firebirds players -- Bitten included -- elected to quit, forcing a re-hiring of the coaches. Despite the courageous move from Bitten and his teammates, the narrative quickly turned into that of an overbearing first-year owner.
To his credit, Bitten has been incredible for the Firebirds in their inaugural season after the move from Plymouth. Not only does Bitten lead the team in scoring, he has produced 12 more points than the next closest-scoring forward on the team (27 to 15).
After posting 31 points in 63 games in his rookie season with the then-Whalers, Bitten has bounced back to out score top 2016 NHL Draft prospects such as Alex Nylander, Michael McLeod, Max Jones, Adam Mascherin, and Max Jones in the OHL.
Early on, Bitten's 1.11 primary points per game (PrPPG) places him third among draft-eligible OHL forwards behind only Erie Otters forwards Alex DeBrincat and Taylor Raddysh.
Ranked 28th in my November top 60 ranking for the 2016 NHL Draft, Bitten is quickly rising. And while he failed to register a point in his CHL Canada Russia Series debut, Bitten created several scoring chances. You couldn't tell Bitten was the youngest player in the game by more than three months. Nor could you tell that he stood just 5-10 and a shade under 170 Ibs. A key cog in a 2-1 win that captured the series for the CHL, Bitten looked like he was just getting warmed up.
Read my scouting report of the budding young pivot below:
William Bitten, C, Flint Firebirds
Drafted seventh overall into the OHL by Plymouth .. part of Flint team that walked out after coaching staff was fired .. scored a big goal in Canada’s Group A action against Sweden in this summer's Ivan Hlinka tournament on route to a gold medal .. registered 11 points in five-game streak to start the month of November .. smooth skater who isn’t afraid to hop up into the rush, carry the puck deep into the offensive zone or take it to the net .. works effectively along the boards .. hits extremely hard, can level players with their heads down but needs to avoid leaving his feet .. stops up or twists and turns when gap closes which allows him to hang onto the puck and create with his skill .. extremely quick on his edges, buzzes around the ice .. can be aggressive with his stick and will be prone to taking slashing and hooking penalties if he doesn’t curb it .. needs to work on his faceoffs, gets out-muscled in the circle .. has the skill to be a top 20 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.