COLUMBUS, OHIO -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed left wing Paul Bittner to a three-year entry level contract, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.
Bittner was the club’s third pick, 38th overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Florida.
Bittner, 18, has registered 68 goals and 75 assists for 143 points with 91 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of +71 in three seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. Last season, he tallied 34-37-71, 52 penalty minutes and was +39 in 66 games, ranking third on the club in goals and plus/minus rating and fourth in assists and points. He added 4-8-12 and six penalty minutes in 17 WHL playoff games.
“We’re excited to have signed Paul to an entry level contract. He is a big and skilled forward who took some great steps in his game while recently taking part in the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid,” said Kekalainen. “We look forward to his growth within our organization in the upcoming years.”
The Crookston, Minnesota native attended the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp earlier this month and was a member of the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that finished second at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup held in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Bittner made his WHL debut in 2012-13, collecting 12-11-23, 12 penalty minutes and was +8 in 45 games while helping Portland capture the WHL Championship. The following season, he notched 22-27-49 with 27 penalty minutes and a +25 plus/minus rating in 63 games with the Winterhawks. He added 6-6-12 in 21 playoff games to help Portland advance to the WHL Finals.