Tyler Pitlick hasn't progressed the way many of us expected him to after being drafted in 2010. This site actually picked him 31st overall in the SBN mock draft that year:
Being able to select Pitlick with the 31st pick was a complete surprise and I don't expect that this option will be available to Steve Tambellini and Stu MacGregor.... Other scouting reports on Pitlick talk about his work in both zones and his superior faceoff skill. Essentially, he's ready-made for the NHL, even if he doesn't become a high-end scorer. He's big, fast, possesses finishing ability, play-making ability, a nice shot, faceoff skill and is quickly becoming a good defensive player.
Since that time, Pitlick just hasn't performed well. He made two big moves down this list, going from 7th to 13th in the summer of 2011 after a disappointing post-draft season in the WHL, and then from 13th to 22nd in our last edition, which came at the halfway point of his second professional season.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||JW||Michael||Ryan ||Scott|
2012-13 was particularly disappointing for Pitlick because he was given a strong opportunity to succeed. In an interview with Jason Gregor before the season started, head coach Todd Nelson talked about Pitlick's role with the team:
He has to play in a top-six role, that’s where we have him slotted.... we feel that he’s a top-six guy and he’s going to get an opportunity to prove that and play in that role.
As with most opportunities in pro hockey, failure meant that it didn't last long. Pitlick didn't score any goals on seventeen shots in the team's first nine games; he was a healthy scratch in the team's tenth game. Shortly thereafter, he suffered a concussion toward the end of November. When he returned to the lineup, it wasn't as a top-six guy.
After the NHL lockout ended, there was a fresh opportunity to claim some ice-time, but Pitlick had another untimely period of bad shooting luck (no goals on eleven shots in five games), which was followed by another untimely injury. This time, Pitlick would miss 22 games with an injured knee. With plenty of competition for jobs, it could easily have been the end of his AHL season. But when Pitlick returned at the end of March, he showed enough life to earn himself a spot in the everyday lineup, playing in 12 of Oklahoma City's last 13 regular season games and 16 of 17 playoff games. His offensive performance in those 28 games wasn't particularly good (4-7-11 and 56 shots), but qualifies as passable, at least at the AHL level.
The main reason Pitlick continues to be ranked inside the top thirty by almost all of our panelists is the fact that he isn't relying on just offense to get himself to the NHL. When Todd Nelson was interviewed during this year's playoff run, he had a lot of encouraging things to say about other aspects of Pitlick's game:
He’s been very strong, very strong. I’m happy with the way that he’s been playing. He’s finishing checks, and if he’s not finishing checks, he’s first on loose pucks. Right now with the way that he has been playing, he’s extremely hard to play against.... He’s just using his speed, and he’s using his physicality. He understands now, and he has to continue to understand, the more physical he plays, the better he does play and points will come.
Pitlick was a regular on OKC's third line during the playoffs, and that's probably where he realistically sees himself in the NHL if things break right for him over the next couple of years. If Pitlick hopes to make that jump, he'll first need to take a step forward offensively at the AHL level. If he hopes to make that jump with the Oilers, it's a step forward that needs to come this season.
Check out the complete Top 25 Under 25 List in our