It was September 2007, the Edmonton Oilers had holes everywhere and the department of youth was being given every chance to make themselves known. That season was saw four significant rookies play a full season for the team:
- Sam Gagner 79, 13-36-49
- Andrew Cogliano 82, 18-27-45
- Tom Gilbert 82, 13-20-33
- Kyle Brodziak 80, 14-17-31
They’re all gone now, other NHL teams have been using Edmonton for an extended farm club since 2006 summer. Gagner was a golden boy from the second his name was announced, and Cogliano had the team made the moment he took a quick spin on Rexall ice. Gilbert? Yeah, he was good enough to play. Brodziak? He won the job that fall, and served notice in late summer that he was going to push for employment.
- Kyle Brodziak: Selected 214th overall in 2003. 2 goals, 1 assist, +2. 18 shifts, 16:33 TOI, 1:59PP, 2:31PK. He was splendid based on the play-by-play and the results. Listening to Rod from the first shift of the night through the last it was clear that Brodziak was not only on a mission but had prepared for the opportunity. THIS is how players win NHL jobs.
- Marc Pouliot: Selected 22nd overall in 2003. 0 goals, 0 assists, -1. 14 shifts, 13:50 TOI, 2:14PP, 1:45PK. He had a couple of chances and his line seemed to force the issue later in the third period, but the offense didn’t come for him tonight. With Reasoner injured and unable to take the final two faceoffs of the game, Pouliot did so and had a positive outcome both times.
- Rob Schremp: Selected 25th overall in 2004. 0 goals, 0 assists, -1. 12 shifts, 11:12 TOI, 2:29PP, 0:00PK. Had a nice chance late but it sounded like he’s still a step or two behind this training camp. Schremp got passed over with the penalty brigade and didn’t seem to get it back until midway through the third period when he had what Morley described as the best chance for his line on the night.
- Sam Gagner: Selected 6th overall in 2007. 1 goal, 0 assists, +1. 21 shifts, 17:33 TOI, 4:55PP, 0:39PK. Popped a goal and had several chances again tonight. I know they’re showcasing the kid and giving him every opportunity, but he’s also delivering results. Each time he does it, we say “well let’s wait until he does it against better competition.” Tonight’s result came in a game against an NHL team with NHL goaltending. At what point do we begin to take him seriously?
That was seven years ago, friends. This Edmonton Oiler team badly needs a Kyle Brodziak to step up and grab a job this fall, and the candidates are less proven than Brodziak (who had been around awhile but was unable to latch on to a big league job).
I was thinking about Tyler Pitlick today. David Moss left the NHL (Sobotka too, this was a bad day for the league) and I think teams all over the NHL have decided to keep their powder dry on the role players and spend on the difference makers. If you’re Tyler Pitlick, today might have been a great day. I always saw him as a two-way guy who may eventually handle tough minutes, but maybe the gets moved up beginning this fall? As you see by the Vollman, Pitlick did get tough zone starts (but easy qual comp) in his 10 game NHL debut in 2013-14.
Hey, it’s a thought during a long summer day with little hockey to discuss. And yet, it’s probably true that Kyle Brodziak was working very hard back on July 10, 2007 in an effort to make a difference that late summer night in 2007.
The rewards of winter are earned in the dog days of summer.
- Dallas Eakins, fall 2013 on Pitlick: “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.”