After four days of the Top 25 Under 25 being dominated by defensive prospects we once again find ourselves looking at a forward - in this case, Tyler Pitlick. As you no doubt recall, Pitlick was selected by the Oilers with the first pick of Day 2 at the 2010 NHL entry draft after which he left college to join the Medicine Hat Tigers before changing teams again last season starting his pro career in Oklahoma City with the Barons.
Pitlick is a player that fans, and those who vote for the Top 25 Under 25, were quite high on after he was drafted. He debuted on the list at #6 that summer following the draft before slipping to #7 that winter. But by the next summer Pitlick had been dropped from the Top 10 entirely and a year later hasn't yet found his way back in. The reason for the fall has been his production, there simply hasn't been enough of it. His numbers with the Tigers were okay (27-35-62 in 56 games) but they were hardly the kind that will blow anyone away. And then this season he managed to score just seven times, while adding 16 assists, in 62 games. Those are the kinds of numbers that leave us with more questions than answers.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||Jon||Ryan||Scott|
As I mention before the jump Pitlick started on the Top 25 Under 25 as the #6 ranked prospect. Since then he has fallen in the ranking three out of four times - #6 → #7 → #13 → #12 → #13 - and it was Derek's vote that kept Pitlick from dropping another spot this time. Why has Derek remained so positive when it comes to Pitlick while the rest of us seem to have lost a little faith?
Pitlick remains a unique talent in the second rung of the prospect list. He's big, sturdy, and physical with a heavy shot. He struggled in his first year in the AHL (his third different league in three years) but there were flashes, reminders of why he was ranked as a top 20 talent in his draft year. If he's able to put it all together, he'll be a force. He may not have the high end offense I first thought he could generate, but he's still got all of the tools to be an effective NHL player.
There is, without a doubt, a lot to like about a player described like that. But at some point there needs to be results and not just potential. In January Tyler Dellow at mc79hockey looked at players drafted out of the CHL who have gone on to play 200 games and average 0.5 points per game in the NHL. If that is the player Pitlick is going to be - and I think that what we're hoping he'll be - he is a little off the pace right now. Simply put, at 20 years old more was expected from Pitlick than seven goals and 16 assists. Just one year into his pro career and two years from being drafted Pitlick could hardly be considered a bust but the arc his career has taken hasn't been what we expected.
There is some good news though, and it comes in the form of shots. When The Copper & Blue selected Pitlick with the 31st pick in the 2010 Mock Draft the write up mentioned that "Pitlick led all WCHA rookies in shots" and that pattern of getting pucks on the net has continued as he's progressed in his career. In Oklahoma City this season Pitlick averaged 2.1 shots per game, his problem was that only 5.4% went in the net. In case you weren't sure that is a terrible number and one that is almost guaranteed to increase. Getting the puck on the net is never a bad thing and that is something that Pitlick has always done well.
Alan, who ranked Pitlick lower than anyone, looks at him like this:
Despite the fact that I ranked Pitlick lower than anyone else on the panel, I have precious little negative to say about him. Upon further reflection, I would probably bump him up about 2 spots if I had it to do over again, and the remainder of the difference seems to be based around the fact that I pushed the duo of Roy and Bunz further up my list than most.
Overall, I still consider Pitlick to be the best forward prospect in the organization who has not yet played in the NHL and is not named Nail Yakupov. There are more questions now than at this time a year ago about whether or not his offensive abilities will translate to the NHL, but as I stated in my piece on Curtis Hamilton, I think the PItlick/Hamilton pair will be the primary beneficiaries of the changes in the OKC roster over the summer. I expect both to be given the opportunity to turn around the trend of what was a less than spectacular season for both players. Pitlick is further along and a strong season next year will find him back up around the top dozen or so names, where I think he belongs. He just didn't do enough this year to hold off some of the other prospects in the organization who also have significant potential, many of whom had much better years.
Alan's last sentence sums up my feeling on Pitlick perfectly, he just didn't do enough. The potential is there, it's just a matter of harnessing it.