Photo by Candace Riley, All Rights Reserved
Tyler Pitlick remains one of the most intriguing prospects in the Oilers' pipeline. Aside from Taylor Hall and Jeff Petry, he might be the only five-tool prospect on the list. Problem is, Pitlick hasn't been able to put those tools together in a dominant season or dominant run to this point. When I first introduced Pitlick to this list, I talked about his physical gifts:
"If this were baseball and we were talking about a five-tool center, Pitlick would fit the bill. He's a good skater, he has an above-average shot, he's good in the circle, he's physical and he has hockey sense or presence."
And none of that has changed. As Neal indicated in his scouting report on January 18th, Pitlick is not only holding up to the physical rigors of the professional game, he's dishing out his fair share of punishment.
"He makes that 6' 2" nearly 200-pound frame seem much larger. The off-season has done this kid some favors. He's gained a few pounds and indeed throws that weight around. He's never steered away from a big hit on the boards, and his forechecking abilities are some of the brightest on the Barons squad. Couple that size and energy with speed, and Pitlick is a real talent to watch on the ice. And although he hasn't played a lot of center, that wide presence down the middle can indeed be a thing of beauty."
However, as in our previous updates, there remain questions about Pitlick's game, most notably his production.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek||Jon||Ryan||Scott|
For the first time since his debut on the list in the summer of 2010 Pitlick didn't slide in the rankings. His ranks since his debut, #6 --> #7 --> #13 --> #12, indicate that the panel has lost confidence in the former second-round (#31) draft choice. But this time around, that's not the case. Ben and Jonathan moved him up three spots, Bruce and I remain unchanged, and Scott dropped him two spots.
Pitlick has a professional toolkit, but does have some drawbacks to his game. Back to Neal's scouting report:
"For Pitlick, his puck-handling skills are decent. He can make a pass accurately most of the time. It's when he gets into those heated situations where he has to dangle the puck or make a sneaky pass that catch him at his worst."
The refinements to his game will come with experience, and hopefully the production comes along with it. One other area of concern is his icetime. Scott did an outstanding study on the Barons, their even strength production, qualcomp and qualteam and came to the following conclusions:
"One of the objections has been that a lack of offensive opportunity has held these guys back. Based on the events per game and quality of teammates numbers, that looks to be a lot more true of Hamilton than it does of Pitlick. This finding also conforms to what I saw when the Barons were in Abbotsford in November: Pitlick was a top nine guy and played the whole game, whereas Hamilton was on the fourth line and sat pretty much the entire third period. I don't think that excuses Hamilton's poor offensive numbers, but at least the narrative kind of fits. In Pitlick's case, 'lack of opportunity' looks like a much bigger reach."
Pitlick is getting icetime, softer competition and decent linemates, but hasn't been able to put up numbers indicative of an offensive threat. In Pitlick's defense, he remains an extremely young AHLer, just 20 years old, and as a November birthday, he's a young 20. He's also a rookie in a new league for the third consecutive season, so he's not yet been able to develop a comfort level in any league.
I asked Neal for an updated take on Pitlick, so I'll let him close:
"Tyler Pitlick, although lacking in offense and a positive plus/minus, is easily one of the most exciting prospects playing in Oklahoma City. He's very quick, very strong, and learning to take things towards the net. The Barons coaching staff has used him on the left, down the center, and on the right. It feels as if they are attempting to find his sweetspot. Over the last month, he's been dealing with a nagging leg injury that he apparently has been playing through. I think we see a much stronger finish from Pitlick than the start. If he can stay healthy, and find ways to become less timid offensively, he'll make a fine addition to the Oilers prospect pool."