Tyler Pitlick could do all of us a huge favor and emerge as a useful NHL hockey player. It would make the script so much easier: Oilers decide to rebuild spring 2010, draft Hall, Pitlick and Marincin that spring and they eventually help the Oilers turn it all around, their draft marking a strong “here’s where it started” storyline for historians. Problem is, Pitlick isn’t cooperating.
He’s still a kid (21 until the first of November) and there are still hockey men who’ll defend him, so there’s a chance he ends up being something. The 2010 draft hasn’t passed away or anything–the NHL has played in 212 games since Pitlick was drafted and he hasn’t played in any of them–but it looks like it won’t be as strong as some other years (at least so far). Among players chosen after Pitlick, only Justin Faulk (#37 to Carolina) has played more than 100 games. Nine of the 30 2nd round picks have played in the NHL and the only player with 15 or more goals is Brendan Gallagher (he has 15).
The problem isn’t really Pitlick’s inability to play an NHL game yet, the problem is that he’s not showing enough offense to be considered a strong bet for regular future employment. Pitlick is starting to remind me of Colin McDonald.
McDonald was a bigger winger with a big shot and some jam, and the scouting report on draft day said “if he can score goals” he’d be a player. By the time McDonald figured out the American league he was beyond prospect status, and Tyler Pitlick may end up heading down the same road. However, McDonald was 22 as a rookie pro in the AHL (73, 12-11-23) and Pitlick was 19 when his AHL rookie season (62, 7-16-23) began. That is a significant gap in age, and its reasonable to suggest Pitlick will find the range offensively in the world’s highest minor league based on his own past (and barring injury).
He does some things that make him unique–bigger body, aggressive, works hard in the corners and he has a very good shot. NHL teams often find roles for such a player, but that solid scoring season in the WHL (22 even strength goals) is miles away. It’s been difficult to slot Pitlick as a prospect, as reflected by my rankings over the years.
PITLICK’S RANKING OVER THE YEARS
- Summer 2010: #4
- Winter 2010: #7
- Summer 2011: #10
- Winter 2011: #9
- Summer 2012: #10
- Winter 2012: #9
- Summer 2013: #24
Pitlick’s progress–or lack thereof–has been stalled by injury, and you could also argue that his “one league a year” post draft meandering (NCAA-WHL-AHL) didn’t help, but really it’s been awhile since there was enough offense to get excited about for this player.
- Age 18: 38, 11-8-19 (NCAA) (.500 point-per-game)
- Age 19: 56, 27-35-62 (WHL) (1.1 point-per-game)
- Age 20: 62, 7-16-23 (AHL) (.371 point-per-game)
- Age 21: 44, 3-7-10 (AHL) (.227 point-per-game)
OKC RE 13-14: 56, 9-16-25
- What was last year’s RE for Pitlick? 72, 16-26-42 (.583). He wasn’t close.
- So, if he scores 25 points does that mean he’s back to being a prospect? I think he’s still a prospect now, but I don’t think he gets another contract if he can’t post some crooked numbers.
- Is he a power forward? No. I’ve asked Jim Byers several times and he has suggested that Pitlick (6.02, 193) has a physical presence and can hit people, but we shouldn’t be expecting a power forward type.
- What is he? Tyler Pitlick is an interesting prospect. He isn’t an offensive dynamo, more of a crash and bang type who can skate well and has a good shot.
- Honestly, it’s been so long since he was drafted, can you remind me of his skill set? Redline: “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.”
- Is there anything about his past that suggests Pitlick can score goals? He popped 22 EV goals in Medicine Hat, that’s a good total. It would have been a better boxcar season but he didn’t get the PP push. He hasn’t done jackshit since, though.
- Is Hartikainen a better prospect? Yes.
- Why did the Oilers send Hartikainen away? Can’t tell you. I think it probably has to do with not getting any even strength points during his audition this past season in the NHL. MacT was watching, made the call.
- If he does make the NHL, where will he play? Bottom 6F, likely 4line. Certainly to start.
- Aside from the offense, is there any other bad news? Injuries, he’s been injured quite a bit since turning pro.
- Bottom line: is there a player here? Maybe, and I’m hopeful he shows something. Derek Zona had an interesting article at C&B back in Feb, talking about his insanely bad shooting percentage. Zona: Pitlick is either suffering an incredible run of luck or his shot is as threatening as the average defenseman, and that doesn’t make much sense. Pitlick has a heavy shot, and by most accounts an accurate shot. But if it’s a plus shot, which scouting reports say it is, and Pitlick were a true talent 9% shooter, the odds of him scoring 8 or less goals on 182 shots are less than 2%. If he’s a true talent 8% shooter, the odds are approximately 4%. So Pitlick is either a forward with a plus shot suffering through an abnormal amount of bad luck, or the shot that we believe is superior is actually inferior to the average forward, and not even as effective as Colten Teubert.
- Where’s that Zona article? Here.