ALL scouting reports rave about Tyler Pitlick’s ability to be a physical factor in games, and many suggest he will indeed play in the NHL as a center (although he’s back on the wing of late). The great unknown–at least the great unproven–is his ability to score goals and contribute to goal scoring.
Based on the monthly stats, offense is a moving target for the AHL rookie. Here are Pitlick’s month by month totals so far this season in Oklahoma City:
- OCT: 8, 1-2-3 +1
- NOV: 11, 3-1-4 -7
- DEC: 2, 0-0-0 -1
- OVERALL: 21, 4-3-7 -7
- PP: 21, 2-1-3
- PK: 21, 0-1-1
- EV: 21, 2-1-3
The role played has a major impact for any player, but I think Pitlick’s special teams points suggest he is getting chances. The coaching staff must see good things, because they have other options. The AHL seems to have a dizzying rotation of PP/big minutes/healthy scratches that players go through, but Pitlick has done some things with his chances. The step from junior to the AHL is a big one, and Pitlick’s dry spells are predictable.
Pitlick is an interesting interview. This article is a very good look into the “new” Oilers and their emphasis on communication. I would dearly love to quote about 10 things from the article but will limit it to just one:
- Pitlick: “College was pretty physical, but I don’t think it really compares to this level. It was a step up for me last season in Medicine Hat, and I think I handled it well. It’s been another step up here in OKC, but I think I’ve done well adapting to this, too. That’s one area, but there are a lot of other things I’ve had to work on as well.”
Based on reports, Pitlick is a very physical player in the AHL and we know that’s no beer league.
Redline Report: “Accelerates briskly out of cross-over and blows by defenders. Has an NHL calibre shot right now. Flashed the ability to power through defenders. Can gain separation in corners with sharp twists and can turn on a dime. Patient playmaker. Long-limbed with farmboy like strength. Aggressive and finished checks. Can shield the puck and work it down low, but often gives it up due to his eagerness to come off the wall and attempt to dance around defenders. Work in progress defensively – will come back deep and battle for the puck but lacks awareness in coverage assignments. Green in many facets and was stuck on a Mankato team that was every man for himself, but was a big-time talent.”
I’m very hopeful about Pitlick, but the offense is going to be the story. Even if he ends up being a winger, Edmonton can get full value from a 2-way, physical winger who can chip in 15-20 goals a season. His NHLE by season suggests that might be what we’re looking at in this player:
- 09-10 (18): 82, 10-7-17
- 10-11 (19): 82, 12-15-27
- 11-12 (20): 82, 7-5-12
A few things here: first, his 18-year old season was in the NCAA and freshman don’t play a lot traditionally. Absent strong evidence that he was a top 9 option every night, I would suggest that Pitlick’s NHLE’s should be given a little leeway. Same thing with this season: although Pitlick is playing, we don’t know the role and that no doubt impacts the numbers. Remember, Fernando Pisani didn’t score a lot as an AHL rookie and he was an older NCAA grad.
Tyler Pitlick is an interesting prospect. He isn’t an offensive dynamo, but with all of the top end talents already in Edmonton there might be a role on a skill line for a physical forward prepared to get his nose dirty. Pitlick’s skill set tells us there are several options, and one of them might be as a complementary player on a skill line.
In other words, exactly what many fans are calling for right now at the NHL level.