FINALLY!

Lowetide
October 25 2013 05:07PM

 

I've written an article about Tyler Pitlick over 40 times since he was drafted, which means I'm either diligent or a sucker for punishment. Pitlick's career progression is a reminder for all of us: these prospects rarely go in a straight line, and sometimes they lose one or two useful things along the way. 

Pitlick had a solid year in Medicine Hat, then turned pro in the fall of 2011. Pitlick's AHL career (113, 11-25-36) didn't give us much to talk about in terms of an NHL future, but the scouting reports always said "he'll play in the NHL" and he "has size and speed." 

In conversations with various Barons onlookers over the last 2+ seasons, I've been able to cobble together a vision of him as a player in my mind's eye: The coach and management always liked the player, his physical style and effort, but the results lagged and overall the performance left them wanting. These are my words, but that's the thrust of what I've been told many times in these months. 

A NEW SET OF EYES

Part of Pitlick's problem was offense, and his shooting percentage has been butt ugly since turning pro:

  • 2011-12: 7 goals on 130 shots (5.38 shooting percentage)
  • 2012-13: 3 goals on 76 shots (3.95 shooting percentage)
  • 2013-14: 1 goal on 10 shots (10.00 shooting percentage)

Pitlick shoots the puck from anywhere past center ice, and I think that's a major reason for his low pro percentages. This begs the question: why on earth doesn't he get closer before shooting? That might be the key to unlocking him offensively in pro hockey. 

The big break for Pitlick happened this training camp, when Dallas Eakins (who himself has been coaching AHL players for some time) saw the size/speed in Pitlick and liked him right away. 

  • Eakins: "I keep trying to send him down and he keeps playing like that. Every time I turned around he was running into somebody. I grabbed him after the second period and asked him if he wanted to play in the NHL because if he keeps playing like that, it won't be too long until he is. He needs to keep the fire lit and he bought himself another game tomorrow."

If there's one thing the recall of Pitlick shows all of the men in the AHL playing for the Barons, it's this: work your ass off, because the coach notices. What kind of inspiration does that represent for Martin Marincin or Ryan Martindale or Curtis Hamilton? One of their own--a guy drafted the same years as they were taken--is in the NHL. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Way back on June 26, 2010, Robin Brownlee had the story. Pitlick: "I'm a big guy who's not afraid to use his body. I make a lot of hits and stuff like that, but I've also got some skill to make plays and score goals, so..."

Tyler Pitlick made it to the NHL, age 21. After 28 months as an Oiler curio, he's an overnight sensation. And an inspiration. 

(Photos of Pitlick by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 oilerman53
October 26 2013, 02:25AM
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The holes in this team are all on the intangibles column, we need tenacitg, physicality, veteran leadership and overall poise. Stockpiling high draft picks at the forward position is clearly not working at all. There isnt any fire or determination outside of Perron and Hemsky in the top six as of now. A few years ago when we still had Andy Sutton I proposed the idea of starting him on a line with Nuge and Ebs. Sutton with his monstrous fame and icy demeanor would have been a perfect fit up there with the two smaller forwards. His skillset wouldn't have matched the two ever in a million years but at least you knew he could bring an added element that that line clearly needed.

Now fast forward to now and the never ending carousel of trying to find some fire in that top six is never ending. As a fan I'm starting to really question the real motives of a management team who is clearly regressing this team year after year of choosing the wrong type of players. Eakins and his system already has a flaw to it as Yakupov can't seem to find a fit anywhere in there. I know back checking forwards are the norm but Yakupov for the most part is a perimeter player. He is better served on a line with two bigger forwards that can fight for the puck for him on a nightly basis. Horcoff used to do it for years playing with Hemsky.

As for Pitlick, he is the type of forward that Edmonton can use, hes big skilled and physical. The Oilers tried filling this gap with Eager who was a monumental bust. Nurse in my mind will be the more valuable player to his team, Monahan looks good now but stud defenseman who are nasty to play against are far more valuable then centers. I feel that this core needs to be shaken up, one of the kids could be on their way out. I'm getting really sick of watching meaningless hockey all year from a team thats promised potential since Taylor Halls draft year. Make the moves and please just get back to being competitive.

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#52 Jeremy
October 26 2013, 06:54AM
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@oilerman53

Dude, you lost me at Sutton on top line. Lol. Seriously, lol. And the "motives" of management? Huh? Really?

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#53 Eastern oil
October 26 2013, 07:11AM
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@madjam

@ madjam

To back this statement up, I ask you to name the the Dmen that came straight out of Junior and were good enough to make a difference as a top 4 Dman. Then compare it to a list like Newj made up.

The kid looked great, I completely agree with this. But I do not think you can reasonably say that a) his development path would be better served while in the NHl, or b) that he would be making a big enough difference to make it worthwhile.

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#54 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 26 2013, 08:24AM
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@Quicksilver ballet

You're not wrong about the D being suspect, but what happens when he goes into the corner with his head down and a Jumbo Joe or an Ovie steamrolls him straight through the boards? Another year in junior, where he's one of the bigger guys, will allow him to strengthen and bulk up. He's tall as a tree but he looked lanky as hell out there. Another 10-15 pounds he's in the 200+ range, which will do wonders for keeping him healthy.

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#55 Mullet Man
October 26 2013, 08:33AM
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@Hair bag

Special teams goals and penalty shots do not affect your +/-

Example Omark scores 2 powerplay goals, 1 goal on a penalty shot, 1 even strength goal, = a rating of +1 so far.

However if Omark was on the ice for 2 even strength goals against (-2). He would finish the night with an overall rating of -1

http://theahl.com/stats/game-summary.php?game_id=1011198

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#56 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 26 2013, 08:36AM
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The number of D playing in the NHL under 20 is a very short historical list. Those that do are either extraordinarily elite, or very poorly managed. This isn't a debate.

On topic, I'm really happy for Pitlick. I'd still like to see him in the AHL playing big minutes and in all situations with success for a year before handing him an NHL job… but hey, injuries make their own decisions.

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#57 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 26 2013, 09:46AM
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@madjam

I actually argued in the pre that he should get 9, there we agree. But come on, our GAA is what, over 4? He'd have to be all-world to drop our GAA by one or two. In a couple years, just maybe. But now, as an 18 year old? I don't see it.

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#58 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 26 2013, 10:01AM
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And DSF, you know full well if the Oilers kept Nurse on the big club, you'd be ranting about their poor player management and giving examples of how the top D men in the league all played an extra year in junior/AHL before joining the show.

Good day, sir.

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#59 Jeremy
October 26 2013, 10:09AM
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@abbeef

Yup, hence the comma btw the F, and the period separating them from the D.

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#60 OnlyOil
October 26 2013, 10:12AM
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Joel k wrote:

LT,

A little off topic but if you were asked today if you had a chance to take Monahan or Nurse with your draft pick. Would you pick Monahan 100% ?

Yes we will wait for 5 yrs

We could use both of them really, I think we need a big stud dman worse, so I'm hoping and believe Nurse is that player. Just love how he plays the game.

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#61 OnlyOil
October 26 2013, 10:22AM
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@DSF

No there isn't a LONG list of 18yr old dman in the NHL. It's on thing to play in the NHL and it's another to have an impact. Especially dmen. The oilers did the right thing with Nurse, everybody knows they rushed kids in the past, and I'm glad they didn't with this kid. It's better for the player and the organization. It's about damn time they did the right thing

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#62 Jeremy
October 26 2013, 10:23AM
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15w40 wrote:

The same people that are complaining about sending Nurse back to junior and not keeping him here for 35 games are the same people that would be ripping the management for letting him blow his first year of an entry level contract to play half a season.

I'm not an Oilers cheerleader or an apologist for management but there are a few posters on this site that would complain because they didn't win the cup in 4 straight games.

This team has lots of holes and there have been a fair share of missteps in this so-called rebuild.

From my standpoint they still need to make about 5 to six more roster moves to have even a sniff at being a winning franchise.

One or two of #4, #14, #93, #64, or #89 will need to be moved to facilitate this. Arcobello has been a revelation and may also be traded along with a couple of the really promising blueliners that are up and coming.

The roster as it is does not have enough sandpaper and just filling out the 4th line with some to play 6 minutes a night is not enough.

Goaltending is still a question mark. Lots of work left to do for sure.

IMHO.

You absolutely nailed it, sir.

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#63 15w40
October 26 2013, 11:14AM
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@DSF

So then you are arguing for the sake of arguing then?

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#64 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 26 2013, 11:50AM
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15w40 wrote:

So then you are arguing for the sake of arguing then?

Exactly this, not sure why I even responded...

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#65 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 26 2013, 12:23PM
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15w40 wrote:

So then you are arguing for the sake of arguing then?

No. His point isn't that the Oilers made the wrong decision to send him down.

His point is that "He's not good enough."

And, he's absolutely right. You are the one arguing with him, because you are used to arguing with him. It's like a routine.

Where he is dead wrong, though, is his strange and ahistorical sense than it is common for top 10 D draft picks to play in the NHL at Nurse's age.

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#66 Wax Man Riley
October 26 2013, 12:38PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Coffey and Lowe seemed to do alright. What part of this D grade team in a B market team doesn't scream developmental caliber to you? The goal is still to put more pucks in the opponents goal every night, correct? So don't give me the game has changed BS.

Hall, Hopkins, Gagner, Yakupov....all ready for the show right out of junior. All 18 yrs old, much like Coff and Vicious were. They all made a developing team as well. Ugh, I just don't get some of you people.

Wow you are on fire today, Quicks.

Seriously? I know you can't actually believe what you are writing.

If you think Nurse is better served in the NHL then, man am I glad you have nothing to do with this team.

You named a bunch of forwards that made the NHL at 18. Were they ready for it? Debatable.

Half the reason you are so angry with this team is that they have teenagers running it.

You and DSF are prime examples of the flip-flopping fan base that will dis every decision made by this team, no matter what.

If Nurse was in the NHL you would be complaining that they are rushing him, and if they send him back, you bitch that it is hurting the team.

You've changed man. I don't even know you anymore.

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#67 Jeremy
October 26 2013, 01:59PM
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Double post

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