LOST DRIVE-IN

The road from 2010′s draft to the dual signing of Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton yesterday has been long and unimpressive. The two players began their time in the Oilers organization with some promise, but their first three years in pro hockey were not inspiring.

CURTIS HAMILTON BACKGROUND

  • Kirk Luedeke, Bruins 2010 Draft Watch: Curtis Hamilton of the Saskatoon Blades suffered a nightmare, injury-plagued season with two collarbone breaks, the second of which ended his season just after the new year. Considered a wide-bodied winger with solid skills (OK skater, good shot, has a nose for the net) if not a high-end package of hockey tools, Hamilton is one of those guys who will drop because he simply didn’t play enough in his draft season, but could end up being much better than a lot of the players who will be picked before him. If he’s there early in the fourth round when Boston’s pick (via Carolina in the Aaron Ward trade) comes around he’d be hard to pass up, because he fits the mold of what the B’s are trying to do in terms of adding size, skill and scoring to the wings. He scored 20 goals in 58 games in 08-09, but only seven tallies in 26 contests this year, so Hamilton does not come without risk, and is why he will fall on draft day.

TYLER PITLICK BACKGROUND

  • Kirk Luedeke, Bruins 2010 Draft Watch: Nephew of former NHL forward Lance Pitlick quietly had an outstanding freshman season for the Mavericks. An excellent skater with quick burst and good north-south agility, he also has some nice creativity which isn’t always easy to pick up because he doesn’t have a lot of help around him. He’s one of those classic up-and-down wingers who isn’t going to necessarily dazzle or excite you, but he’s got some ability and according to the April edition of the Red Line Report, could break into the late first round.

pitlick1

ABOUT TYLER PITLICK, 2014

  • Todd Nelson: He’s a strong guy, he has great speed and he has some skill, but he has to play a straight-lined game up and down his wing, being physical in the corners, finishing his checks, shooting the puck and keeping things simple. When he’s hitting people and he’s shooting the puck, he’s at his best. He’s always got pretty good wheels out there, he understands the game. Once again, it’s just a matter of being consistent. He’s knocking on the door to be a full-time NHLer.”
  • Nelson late in the season: “I think Tyler Pitlick has to be talked about. He’s taken his game to a whole new level and he’s ready to play up there. I see this guy as not being back in OKC next year, I see him playing in the National Hockey League… He’s really a lot more mature than he has been in previous years. He’s taken a quiet leadership role where he understands his play on the ice is contagious to the rest of the hockey team where he has to play a physical game and move his feet. As a coaching staff, we have confidence in him.”

 THE BARONS AND FORWARDS, 2010 TO 2014

In terms of scoring by forwards who are Oiler prospects, progress has been varied over the years. The struggles of Pitlick and Hamilton have been covered extensively, but Todd Nelson has in fact found a way to unlock offense from Edmonton’s prospects.

2010-11

  • Linus Omark 28gp, 14-17-31 1.11
  • Liam Reddox 37gp, 18-15-33 .892
  • Mark Arcobello 26gp, 11-11-22 .846
  • Colin McDonald 80gp, 42-16-58 .725
  • Teemu Hartikainen 66gp, 17-25-42 .636

All of these men got at least a shot in the NHL, and Colin McDonald has enjoyed some success on the Islanders in the last two seasons. His 122 career NHL games lead this group, but Arcobello’s story is still running and we may hear from Harski and others again.

2011-12

  • Linus Omark 18gp, 6-10-16 .889
  • Magnus Paajarvi 34gp, 7-18-25 .735
  • Teemu Hartikainen 51gp, 14-18-32 .627
  • Mark Arcobello 73gp, 17-26-43 .589
  • Phil Cornet 67gp, 24-13-37 .552

Paajarvi leads this group in NHL GP, he’s actually beyond the 200 game threshold now. That damn Omark sure could score, couldn’t he? Whenever I roll through these years, it’s always obvious this was a man in need of an expansion draft.

2012-13

  • Toni Rajala 46gp, 17-28-45 .978
  • Mark Arcobello 74gp, 22-46-68 .919
  • Teemu Hartikainen 47gp, 14-23-37 .787
  • Phil Cornet 46gp, 15-18-33 .717
  • Magnus Paajarvi 36gp, 4-16-20 .526

This is the lockout year, so the numbers are spiked a little. Still, that kid Rajala had a nice year didn’t he? Arcobello took a nice stop forward and proved he could play with real skill when Nuge flew north for x-rays. Paajarvi didn’t get a push during that time, and we still haven’t seen Pitlick or Hamilton. OR Lander.

2013-14

  • Mark Arcobello 15gp, 10-18-28 1.87
  • Anton Lander 46gp, 18-34-52 1.13
  • Linus Omark 29gp, 14-15-29 1.00
  • Roman Horak 53gp, 21-27-48 .906
  • Andrew Miller 52gp, 8-26-34 .654
  • Tyler Pitlick 39gp, 8-14-22 .564

Arcobello is now officially toying with the American League, and Lander received power-play time and his numbers spiked. Linus the pinus has alway been too good for this league, and Horak is a nice player. Miller? He’s okay, not Arcobello yet but we’ll see. Pitlick FINALLY shows up above .500/game in the AHL and maybe there’s some hope for him. Hamilton has not yet reached that level—a level Teemu Hartikainen managed at 20.

PITLICK’S FUTURE

The comments from Nelson above (and Eakins in the fall) suggest Tyler Pitlick may in fact have an NHL chance. Injuries have impacted him, and there is in fact a job opening in the NHL. It’s a drastic job, you’d like Daniel Winnik for the chore, but Tyler Pitlick has a chance.

HAMILTON’S FUTURE

It’s pretty hard to see one from here. Signing Curtis Hamilton suggests to me the Oilers feel he hasn’t had a chance—through lockout, injury and roster slotting—to show what he’s got. I’d say the chances of Hamilton scoring 40 points this coming season in OKC are very low, but Edmonton would seem to feel there’s two or three more gears that have not made themselves known.

THE BARONS 2014-15

LEFT WING CENTER RIGHT WING
JESSE JOENSUU BOGDAN YAKIMOV TYLER PITLICK
RYAN HAMILTON JUJHAR KHAIRA STEVE PINIZZOTTO
CURTIS HAMILTON WILL ACTON MATT FORD
MITCHELL MOROZ TRAVIS EWANYK IIRO PAKARINEN
KALE KESSY CONNOR JONES ANDREW MILLER
KELLEN JONES   MITCH HOLMBERG
JOSH WINQUIST    
     
LEFT DEFENSE   RIGHT DEFENSE
BRAD HUNT   OSCAR KLEFBOM
MARTIN GERNAT   DAVID MUSIL
BRANDON DAVIDSON   DILLON SIMPSON
JORDAN OESTERLE    
     
  GOAL  
  RICHARD BACHMAN  
  LAURENT BROSSOIT  
  FRANS TUOHIMAA  
  TYLER BUNZ  
  TY RIMMER  

That’s my estimate, Patricia Teter and Neal Livingston have been helpful in tweaking here or there but it’s certainly a moving target. I do believe that Hamilton’s signing means there’s a desire to see him in a more prominent role this coming season. I hope he rips it up, Hamilton has always been a favorite and for me he’s exactly the kind of player the Habs used to develop. Range of skills, can play without the puck, and fast enough to do you harm.

Godspeed, kid. You need a helluva year.

(Hamilton photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).

 

 

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34 Responses to "LOST DRIVE-IN"

  1. Racki says:

    I don’t know much about Hamilton, but I consider him a career AHLer until he proves otherwise. Pitlick.. He can either be a top six guy no one wants/needs or a heck of a bottom six guy. I love the Nelson quote because it’s bang on with what we all know and see. If he keeps his game simple and goes out and skates hard, hits hard and just shoots when he can, good things happen.

  2. Jordan says:

    Both Pitlick and Hamilton represent a player type that the Oilers Organization prize – Players with size and character who can play hockey.

    In my estimation, it’s entirely irrelevant whether either ever does anything at the NHL level. Both are very useful forwards at the AHL level who have been around at that level enough to help bring along other young prospects. Journeymen ready to help season this year’s crop. Much like how I would describe someone like Davidson – people who overcome adversity and never stop trying.

    For a very long time, there weren’t any of those to be found in-house. Alex Giroux, among others, were brought in not only to provide scoring, but I question how effective he (among others) were at mentoring. I think that the real success of the Oilers development system will hinge on their ability to develop players who can provide some shelter for the guys who need more seasoning and who want to stick around with the Org.

    My sincerest hope is that Hamilton, Davidson, Pitlick and Ewanyk will stay with the Oilers Organization regardless of what happens with their NHL aspirations. I also hope the Oilers recognize the value of these guys, and want to keep them.

  3. Clay says:

    - Small players have to prove they can play, and big players have to prove that they can’t.

    Not sure where that quote comes from, but the handling of Hamilton and Arcobello certainly bear it out.

  4. Ca$h-Money! says:

    Racki:
    I don’t know much about Hamilton, but I consider him a careerAHLer until he proves otherwise. Pitlick.. He can either be a top six guy no one wants/needs or a heck of a bottom six guy. I love the Nelson quote because it’s bang on with what we all know and see. If he keeps his game simple and goes out and skates hard, hits hard and just shoots when he can, good things happen.

    To be fair, career AHLer seems a bit generous. I’m not sure he’s proven he has what it takes to stick in the AHL long term.

  5. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    What’s on the show today… or is it another walk the dog kind of day?

  6. Ben says:

    Looking at how injuries have impacted these careers, it’s really worth noting what an impressive job Taylor Hall has done adjusting his game in order to protect his body – while remaining one of the dominant wingers in the league. What a smart player.

  7. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    “Signing Curtis Hamilton suggests to me the Oilers feel he hasn’t had a chance—through lockout, injury and roster slotting—to show what he’s got. ”

    That’s exactly it. They did a number of puff pieces on him mid-season this year. A lot. And the PR dept. openly bandied around the idea of him being the next call-up. I believe we even discussed it here.

    Then he got injured again.

    I think we can say two things here.

    1. They like the player and feel like life hasn’t given CH a clean look at a fastball yet.

    2. They probably would have preferred to make this decision next year. I mentioned before that they seem to be frustrated with this 2010 class. But, ultimately this is a minor decision. I’m much happier to grant CH a spot on the 50 man for an extra year to see if he can become MacDonald than I am to give the Abneys of the world ELCs.

  8. G Money says:

    Ca$h-Money!: To be fair, career AHLer seems a bit generous.I’m not sure he’s proven he has what it takes to stick in the AHL long term.

    Not to put words in his mouth, but the way I read it, I’m guessing Racki means “his ceiling is as a career AHLer”. You’re right, he hasn’t yet proven that he even belongs in the AHL (Hamilton I mean, not Racki!).

    It would be a tremendously good thing for the Oilers if Pitlick can prove to be the player we saw for a few games last season. If he can do that, and stay healthy, he’d be the most positively impactful 4R we’ve had in quite a while.

    As Pouzar and RexLibris noted yesterday, for the Oilers its either

    DEPTH!!!!!

    or

    DEARTH!!!!

    with seemingly nothing in between.

  9. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    new piece on Grebeshkov up

    http://www.theoilersrig.com/2014/07/curious-case-grebeshkovs-final-nhl-season/

    picking up from something LT said the other day.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Romulus Apotheosis:

    What’s on the show today… or is it another walk the dog kind of day?

    Hour One: Scott Burnside ESPN, Darrin Bauming TSN 1290 Winnipeg, Rob Soria Oil Drop
    Hour Two: Bruce McCurdy Cult of Hockey, Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance

  11. Ducey says:

    Clay: – Small players have to prove they can play, and big players have to prove that they can’t.Not sure where that quote comes from, but the handling of Hamilton and Arcobello certainly bear it out.

    Hamilton proved he could play in junior. He hasn’t stayed healthy enough to prove it as a pro.

    How is signing him a problem? They only have 45 roster spots used up (including Schultz but not Leon). He is still only 22 and has some upside while providing depth on the AHL team. He is a better option than some 30 yr old AHL vet trying to stave off getting a real job.

  12. hoser313 says:

    Good for the Oil for being patient with SOME of their prospects.

    I would think Moroz would climb that depth chart as the season goes on, though. Possibly the Finnish guy too although I have no idea.

  13. vinotintazo says:

    I see you put Jesse johenssu on the barons… good call, thsi guy was brutal.

  14. Jordan says:

    Romulus Apotheosis,

    Nice read. The music was a perfect complement, and timed almost exactly right to finish at the same time that I finished reading the article. Well done!

    I think you’re absolutely right about our beloved and much maligned acid trip defender. He’s no screaming hell. He makes mistakes with the puck, especially when his team leaves him high and dry with no options, or goes walk-about on coverage (I guess some players expect him to be Shea Weber. Errorem?). It really is too bad – he looks like an NHL caliber defenceman.

    Oh well – not like the Oilers ever needed any of those.

    It does lead me back to the belief that once December rolled around and the team was in the shitter again, management made a decision to tank the team as much as possible, and exceptional play from Hall, Scrivens, and others made this team look a lot better than it should have. How else can you explain the Fraser pickup and playing him? The numbers and the visual on him were both clear – he was BAD.

    Here’s hoping the Oilers are in the hunt in December this year – I’d love to see what the silver fox does to improve a team for a run. You know – it feels funny to say that. Almost like I can’t beleive it will ever actually happen. The team’s been losing for so long, part of me is starting to accept it as status quo. And I don’t even really mind much. That’s just… the way it is.

  15. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Jordan,

    I really don’t know what Grebs was this year. We didn’t get enough looks at him to form a solid opinion. But, it sure looks like he deserved a better look when you think that Fraser played 23 games.

  16. Hammers says:

    I see Joensuu is on both your Barons & Oilers list . Obviously you must feel he is a tweener and that this upcoming camp makes or breaks him as an NHL player . It will come down to if another “C” is being added or not . He would be another winger with size for the 4th line or the 13th player with Gazdic . Boy that center spot just keeps coming up and will also affect Pitlick .

  17. Jon K says:

    G Money,

    DEARTH!

    OR

    DEATH?

    Both seem appropriate.

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=457309

    What the hell? Forgot about Lombardi. I wonder how much he has left given that he’s four years removed from his last good NHL season.

  18. Pouzar says:

    Lowetide: Hour One: Scott Burnside ESPN, Darrin Bauming TSN 1290 Winnipeg, Rob Soria Oil DropHour Two: Bruce McCurdy Cult of Hockey, Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance

    I will be listening…intently…..especially….to………..nm…………….we shall hear.

  19. Pouzar says:

    Darrin Bauming is excellent.

  20. russ99 says:

    How many contracts are we at now?

  21. Numenius says:

    russ99:
    How many contracts are we at now?

    We’re at 45 contracts, not including the upcoming J. Schultz contract and not including Dr. Drai. The number may also go down to 44 if Nurse gets sent down.

    http://www.capgeek.com/oilers/reserve-list/

    Horak and Larsen are on the list, but don’t count on the 50 man, I believe, since they’re playing in Europe and won’t have a contract.

  22. B S says:

    This is a saw him good anecdote, but I can see why the Oilers might like to see him get a fair chance.

    Anyone remember the 2011 WJC final? the one where Canada was up on Russia 3-0 until the ref missed an icing (by a country mile and made to blow it so that Canada thought it was dead, same thing happened to sweden vs russia, time for my tin-foil hat) and Mark Visentin got the nervous nellies after one bad goal until he looked like he couldn’t stop a beach ball.

    When Russia was up 5-3 the ONLY Canadian player who seemed to give a damn was Curtis Hamilton, I remember seeing him a lot at that point, and whenever he was on the ice the puck moved in the right direction. He’d get it deep on his own then try to find a teammate.

    I haven’t seen him show that kind of drive since, though I’ve rarely seen him play at all, but that is the sort of game changing potential that every team looks for.

  23. Frank The Dog says:

    Hammers:
    I see Joensuu is on both your Barons & Oilers list . Obviously you must feel he is a tweener and that this upcoming camp makes or breaks him as an NHL player . It will come down to if another “C” is being added or not . He would be another winger with size for the 4th line or the 13th player with Gazdic . Boy that center spot just keeps coming up and will also affect Pitlick .

    When I see Joensuu all I can think of is games lost to injury.

  24. Ca$h-Money! says:

    B S:
    This is a saw him good anecdote, but I can see why the Oilers might like to see him get a fair chance.

    Anyone remember the 2011 WJC final? the one where Canada was up on Russia 3-0 until the ref missed an icing (by a country mile and made to blow it so that Canada thought it was dead, same thing happened to sweden vs russia, time for my tin-foil hat) and Mark Visentin got the nervous nellies after one bad goal until he looked like he couldn’t stop a beach ball.

    When Russia was up 5-3 the ONLY Canadian player who seemed to give a damn was Curtis Hamilton, I remember seeing him a lot at that point, and whenever he was on the ice the puck moved in the right direction. He’d get it deep on his own then try to find a teammate.

    I haven’t seen him show that kind of drive since, though I’ve rarely seen him play at all, but that is the sort of game changing potential that every team looks for.

    He was also second on that team in scoring behind Schenn if I remember correctly. I was excited about him at that point.

  25. RexLibris says:

    Stauffer had a bit today about the difference between English and German soccer, namely that Germany decided to develop players by prioritizing playing time for national kids between the ages of 19 and 21, when they show the greatest increase in development.

    He compared this to the Oilers burying Pitlick and Hamilton during their first few seasons in the AHL.

    As I look over the Barons’ roster, if I were able to, I’d eliminate Joensuu, R. Hamitlon, and one of Ford or Miller in order to ensure that the prospects get as much playing time as possible.

    I know that MacT has emphasized development to Nelson, and that there is a good chance that the kids like Khaira, Yakimov and so on get the prime minutes, but I worry that Nelson may want the win more than the lesson and revert to AHL veterans at the cost of developing the prospects.

    This NHL roster cannot afford another generation (two or three draft classes) of forward prospects to fall away. ELCs and internal depth options are an absolute must if this rebuild project is going to move forward.

  26. Ducey says:

    The Oilers should be/ are likely keeping an eye on the Leaves.

    They signed RFA’s Carter Ashton and Peter Holland today. That gives them 15 forwards. http://www.capgeek.com/mapleleafs/

    They likely farm out old Oiler Troy Bodie. No interest there.

    But they may still have to waive one or two of Ashton, Holland, Trevor Smith, Kontiola, or Matt Frattin.

    Given Eakins’ love of Marlies, they might be a target. Holland, Smith and Kontiola seem to play C.

  27. bendelson says:

    Ducey,

    Is it the Leaves?
    I always thought it was the Leafs.

    Just wondering…

  28. Ducey says:

    RexLibris,

    Getting rid of all the vets doesn’t necessarily mean a good development model. You need some Crash David types to help the kids learn the ropes and lead them. You also need some guys to take on the tough minutes, fighting, etc that your kids might not be ready for.

    Lots of minutes are great but not if you are getting your can handed to you every shift and the team can’t win.

  29. Ducey says:

    bendelson: Ducey, Is it the Leaves?I always thought it was the Leafs.Just wondering…

    It is the Leafs, but it should be the Leaves :)

  30. B S says:

    Ca$h-Money!: He was also second on that team in scoring behind Schenn if I remember correctly. I was excited about him at that point.

    I think part of what made Hamilton stand out to me that game was the list of not-give-a-damns on the team at the 3-3 mark: Brayden Schenn, Couturier, Ryan Johansen, Foligno, Leblanc, Schwartz (though he may have had real world shit to deal with at that time) can’t remember if any of them were injured then, but I recall a few of them skating to the neutral zone then dump and chase without the chase. Maybe it was just by comparison, but god Hamilton looked like a player then.

  31. RexLibris says:

    Ducey:
    RexLibris,

    Getting rid of all the vets doesn’t necessarily mean a good development model.You need some Crash David types to help the kids learn the ropes and lead them.You also need some guys to take on the tough minutes, fighting, etc that your kids might not be ready for.

    Lots of minutes are great but not if you are getting your can handed to you every shift and the team can’t win.

    I agree. A Crash Davis-type helps in some of these situations.

    But looking at that LW depth chart, and it is fairly crowded with uninspiring names like Kessy. Moroz is a significant hope for this team as a big forward who can skate, hit and play with skill. His continued development is extremely important, but if he loses minutes to someone like Ryan Hamilton or Kale Kessy, then we’ve got a problem.

  32. RexLibris says:

    Ducey: It is the Leafs, but it should be the Leaves

    http://grammarist.com/usage/dwarfs-dwarves/

  33. Jordan says:

    RexLibris: I agree. A Crash Davis-type helps in some of these situations.

    But looking at that LW depth chart, and it is fairly crowded with uninspiring names like Kessy. Moroz is a significant hope for this team as a big forward who can skate, hit and play with skill. His continued development is extremely important, but if he loses minutes to someone like Ryan Hamilton or Kale Kessy, then we’ve got a problem.

    Agreed.

    However, Nelson’s no slouch. I expect you’ll see some kind of 4-man rotation in the top 3 spots (presuming Joensuu does stay down), especially in back to backs and 3 in 4s. Especially with Moroz specifically being new to the AHL, this year should be expected to be a learning year for him. Anything more than that is gravy. With Curtis… like I said earlier, as long as he’s helping to mentor, I don’t care about his playing time. He’s a fine AHL rolemodel regardless of his development.

  34. RexLibris says:

    Jordan,

    I don’t see Curtis Hamilton as an AHL veteran/role model, mostly due to limited playing time and accomplishments thus far.

    Ryan Hamilton may be more that type.

    I trust Nelson to educate and develop defensemen. The lack of forwards emerging thus far from the prospect group has several scapegoats, management and scouting being two, but development has a say here as well.

    I hope to see significant improvements in this area this season.

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