Until this season, you couldn’t find 50 good words on the internet about Tyler Pitlick in the AHL. Injuries and lack of scoring suggested there wasn’t much there, despite Pitlick’s ranking as one of the 30 best players available in the 2010 entry draft.
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER FIFTEEN ON THE LIST
- December 2004: R Troy Bodie
- December 2005: R Colin McDonald
- December 2006: D Jeff Petry
- December 2007: R Colin McDonald
- December 2008: G Devan Dubnyk
- December 2009: D Alex Plante
- December 2010: G Olivier Roy
- December 2011: D Brandon Davidson
- December 2012: D Joey Laleggia
Some nice players here, and they were late-developing 1st (Dubnyk) and 2nd (McDonald) prospects along with Jeff Petry who I misjudged all down the line (and Bodie who arrived late, too). Recent years have been dull at #15, with Dubnyk in 2008 being the last player to make the NHL as a regular from this list (although McDonald was technically after Dubnyk).
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Redline: Began season playing the wing on a scoring line, but spent the last quarter of the year shouldering more responsibility centering Mankato’s third line. 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. Projection – Versatile 3rd line checker who chips in on “O” Style compares to: Max Pacioretty.
- Bob McKenzie: Tyler Pitlick is the nephew of former NHL defenceman Lance Pitlick and scored 11 goals as a freshman at Mankato State University. A late 1991 birthdate, he was an offensive player in the Minnesota high school system but will have to prove he can put up numbers with each step up in competition, but he plays a solid enough all-around game to garner first round consideration.
TYLER PITLICK POINTS, BY DISCIPLINE
|TYLER PITLICK 2011-12 AHL||62, 4-13-17 .274||62, 3-3-6 .097||62, 0-0-0||62, 7-16-23 .371|
|TYLER PITLICK 2012-13 AHL||44, 3-7-10 .227||44, 0-0-0 .000||44, 0-0-0||44, 3-7-10 .227|
|TYLER PITLICK 2013-14 AHL||7, 0-1-1 .143||7, 0-1-1 .143||7, 1-0-1||7, 1-2-3 .429|
We don’t know the time on ice totals per year, but I don’t think (based on the verbal at the time) that Pitlick ever got to a point where we would have considered him a top 6 forward option. The club did talk about using him in that role, but it never took.
- Coach Todd Nelson, pre-season fall 2012: He has to play in a top-six role, that’s where we have him slotted. He might play in a line with Josh Green. We’re just kind of looking at things. To go through our whole lineup you can go through multiple combinations and I don’t think that we’d miss a beat. We’re very deep at forward and having Justin Schultz come help us out on defence is certainly a bonus. Tyler Pitlick, we feel that he’s a top-six guy and he’s going to get an opportunity to prove that and play in that role.
It never came. Injuries and the NHL kids grabbed all those minutes and Pitlick’s second season must have been frustrating for everyone. Still, the club had invested a second round pick on him, and that has value. The big season for Pitlick would be 2013-14, the final season of his entry level deal. He also needed better luck.
- Zona in February: 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.
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2010: 4
- Winter 2010: 7
- Summer 2011: 10
- Winter 2011: 9
- Summer 2012: 11
- Winter 2012: 9
- Summer 2013: 24
- Winter 2013: 15
It’s been a long and winding road since 2010 summer for Pitlick, and for the fanbase. If this pick could work out—if Pitlick could play a third line role and score 15 goals—that would represent a big piece of the remaining puzzle. His size, shot and speed make him an interesting prospect and there’s still plenty of time, but the Oilers badly needed to see some signs of progress this season.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON
- Eric Rodgers: “his improvement from last season has been the most marked I’ve seen so far.”
- Dallas Eakins in pre-season: “I keep trying to send him down and he keeps playing like that. Every time I turned around he was running into somebody. I grabbed him after the second period and asked him if he wanted to play in the NHL because if he keeps playing like that, it won’t be too long until he is. He needs to keep the fire lit and he bought himself another game tomorrow.”
- Tyler Pitlick: “I went from highest of highs, scoring my first NHL goal, to a torn ACL. It was tough mentally to take that. But those things happen, you just have to stick with it. We still have lots of season left and hopefully I can come back and start off where I left off.”
Pitlick’s recovery has been very good, to the point where he may be cleared to play soon. Once that question is answered, we next have to evaluate whether or not he can fill a role in the NHL. I don’t think we have the answer, even after all of these years. Zona’s point above about shooting percentage has to be answered, we need to find out if he can go 20 feet without getting hurt and we’ve never really known how much playing time he’s been getting as a player.
His 5×5/60 is 2.05 as a rookie, but that’s a goal in 29 minutes and that might be the only goal he ever scores. His shooting percentage is in the AHL ditch but he’s scored 1 goal in three shots with the Oilers.
Many, many people have told me he looks like a player and he showed well in his 3 NHL games before the injury. Until he can show that over a full season, and maintain health, I don’t think anyone can suggest Tyler Pitlick is more than a long shot.
I’m pleased he made it, if only for three games. I’m hopeful he plays a decade and then some. I know of no good way to predict either.