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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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|
|LEFT DEFENSE||RIGHT DEFENSE|
|BRAD HUNT||OSCAR KLEFBOM|
|MARTIN GERNAT||DAVID MUSIL|
|BRANDON DAVIDSON||DILLON SIMPSON|
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).