Tyler Pitlick’s pro hockey career has been just this shy of a train wreck. Terrible boxcars married to serious injury, and many nights as a scratch didn’t help either. His most recent injury–and its severity–appear to have had an impact on the young man. Whatever happened, he is showing some signs of life after a long, long period of transition.

Pitlick was part of the 2010 NHL entry draft, which (incredibly) is now three years old. For players drafted in 2010, we should be seeing legit progress toward the NHL, a bunch of good arrows that suggest a future in the world’s best league.

  • #1 Taylor Hall: Oilers best player, and one of the NHL’s best at age 21.
  • #31 Tyler Pitlick: Has scored 10 goals in 106 AHL regular season games. Injuries major impact.
  • #46 Martin Marincin: Showing nice progress in AHL, on track as an NHL prospect.
  • #48 Curtis Hamilton: Hanging by a thread as a prospect, again injuries in AHL having an impact. Doesn’t win enough battles.
  • #61 Ryan Martindale: Big man not doing enough to stay in AHL lineup.
  • #91 Jeremie Blain: Unsigned by the Oilers, struggled in his first pro season.
  • #121 Tyler Bunz: Struggled badly as a rookie pro. Badly.
  • #162 Brandon Davidson: Epic season of good and bad, lost much of the year to cancer treatment but has recovered and is playing a regular shift in the AHL playoffs. Amazing story.
  • #166 Drew Czerwonka: Lost his career to injury, did not sign a pro contract.
  • #181 Kristians Pelss: Earned a pro deal, has been impressive and injured during rookie season.
  • #202 Kellen Jones: Had an average offensive season in the NCAA.


In mid-January, Pitlick suffered a knee injury that looked severe enough to threaten his season and beyond. He played January 19th and did not return to action until March 29th (10 weeks).

You never know with injuries. The impact they have on prospects is enormous, and yet we seem to forget them when talking about prospect progress. The other day on twitter there was a 20-tweet exchange about how Alex Plante was such a disappointment, but nary a mention of the plethora of concussions that have heavily impacted his career.

Such is the nature of the procurement and development business, which makes the recent (in a very small sample size) performance by Pitlick so encouraging.


In my many conversations with Jim Byers (OKC Barons play by play man) and Todd Nelson (Barons coach) over the last couple of years, I’ve come away with a couple of impressions: they like the player, his physical style and effort, but the results lag and overall the performance has been wanting. This is reflected in Pitlick’s ridiculous pro shooting percentage:

  • 2011-12: 7 goals on 130 shots (5.38 shooting percentage)
  • 2012-13: 3 goals on 76 shots (3.95 shooting percentage)

For a forward, that’s beyond terrible, bordering on impossible. Earlier this year, Derek Zona had a look at Pitlick’s pro shooting percentage and drew this conclusion:

  • Zona: Pitlick is either suffering an incredible run of luck or his shot is as threatening as the average defenseman, and that doesn’t make much sense. Pitlick has a heavy shot, and by most accounts an accurate shot. But if it’s a plus shot, which scouting reports say it is, and Pitlick were a true talent 9% shooter, the odds of him scoring 8 or less goals on 182 shots are less than 2%. If he’s a true talent 8% shooter, the odds are approximately 4%. So Pitlick is either a forward with a plus shot suffering through an abnormal amount of bad luck, or the shot that we believe is superior is actually inferior to the average forward, and not even as effective as Colten Teubert. 

Which brings us to the good news: the hockey Gods may be turning Pitlick’s pro career toward a sunny day.

  • last 10 games: 3 goals on 21 shots (14.29 shooting percentage)

Look, it’s a small, small sampe, a thin, thin line on miles and miles of TOI and man games. However, it’s also a sign of good health, consistent minutes and some results on effort. Jesus, Joseph and Mary this young man deserves something after all this time!


As fans, it’s sometimes difficult to hide our disappointment when prospects struggle and fail. Our favorite team invested very dear draft picks on them, why can’t they play better?

Lots of reasons, of course, and we know that to be true–history teaches us that much. So when Tyler Pitlick’s shooting percentage goes from hell to heaven, here’s hoping he is enjoying it and can keep it going.

I’m going to cheer like hell for him. A win tonight means another week of games and who knows, maybe this month will be the period of time we look back on as a turning point in his pro career.

The hockey Gods are shining a light. Finally, a pulse.

  • Lowetide

    Agreed. It’s an empty feeling, and I’m so sick of the WHC being a “showcase” for Oiler players. If Taylor Hall’s nickname is Captain Canada 15 years from now because of WHC performance it’ll be the death of me.

    • 106 and 106

      I think even loyal Taylor Hall would be demanding a trade long before that. He’s probably watching Iginla dominate with a dominant team and gets the wheels going.

      • Wax Man Riley

        If he is watching Iginla, then hopefully he picks up that Iggy is a Richard trophy winner, Olympic Gold medalist, repeated 1st team all-star, and a dominant player in the league for 17 years, and has earned this opportunity.

        Taylor Hall hasn’t proven anything yet, so I don’t see him demanding a trade.

  • RexLibris

    The story on Pitlick is the same reason that I have been preaching patience and a healthy dose of wait-and-see in discussions of prospects in other teams.

    A kid can look like an all-world talent at one level and then fail to make the jump to the next level.

    Alex Giroux is an example of someone who looks like an easy pick to make the jump from AHL to NHL, size, skill, speed and a long history of scoring.

    Justin Pogge was a promising young goaltender in junior and yet was never able to make it work on the next level.

    The sad truth is that fewer than 20% of picks work out to be NHL players. If the Oilers had eleven picks in 2010 that means we can hold out hope for at least one more NHL graduate after Taylor Hall, maybe two.

    My money is on Marincin and Pelss. But if the Oilers could eventually turn Davidson, Pitlick and Bunz into 200+ NHL game players then I think we’d have to consider 2010 a great success.

  • Lowetide

    Rex: Agreed. The Oilers should get 3 imo because of all the 2nd rd selections. Hall, Marincin and Pitlick having NHL careers would mean success, anything beyond that is the cherry on top.

  • Citizen David

    Ifi’m not mistaken, either the fall immediately after his draft or the next one he came to the Oilers camp and they liked what they saw so much he almost stuck. At least that’s how I remember it. Here’s hoping he can still be an effective bottom six NHLer.

  • oilabroad

    A good Pitlick is exactly what the Oil need on the bottom 6 but its a bit too early to get excited over such a small sample size… if they get a few rounds in, and brings it for the whole post season, I will start to get excited.
    For me, I would love to hear more about Marancin’s season, sounds like he has really excelled after the lockout, be nice to see how he compares with other young defenceman that made a successful jump up to the big team….

  • Lowetide

    oilabroad: In recent seasons–certainly since the OKC Barons came into being–the Oilers have graduated college men (Petry, J Schultz) who are early 20’s (say 22) when they graduate.

    That would be a good estimated timeline for Marincin imo, meaning a full season in OKC in 13-14 and then maybe an extended stay in the NHL the following season.

    • Lowetide

      Certainly this spring. The only item that could make it short term is injury, as both Plante and Teubert have suffered nagging injuries this season.

      of course, Davidson had cancer….

  • 719

    Hey LT – I’ve had the most interest in Pitlick and Hamilton and have been passively following them since they were drafted.

    It’s good to hear that Pitlick is starting to some results as I always thought his shortcoming was confidence related. I saw allot of crash and bang, but it was coupled with driving wide and shooting from the perimeter. Of course perimeter shooting is not conducive to a high shooting %.

    What’s your read on Hamilton though? His showing at the WJ was solid… Is he still playing the same 2 way game?

    • Lowetide

      I think he’s in a similar situation to Pitlick, except without the recent Pitlick kicker. Hamilton should be an AHL regular now but he’s played only 1 of the 4 playoff games.

      Time is running out. Suspect he gets a full shot next year with the Barons, but he’ll need to stay healthy and post some good boxcars.

  • Word to the Bird

    I think it’s safe to say that many up and coming hockey players playing in the AHL are being hampered by the many demoted NHL’ers playing on the farm team.

    Guys like Chechoo, Green, Eager, Hordy, etc, are taking away from ice time that should be spent on the youth. I like that we have some depth down there, but let the young guys play valuable minutes……….and as they say, let the crea rise to the top.

    The Oilers have been using the OKC Barons as a dumping site for all of Lowe’s and Tambys bad siginings, and not as a development site for your young players.

  • Sox and Oil

    I remember being both shocked and thrilled that Pitlick fell to 31st at the draft. He seemed to be on lots of lists as a 1st rounder in the 20ish range.

    Hamilton was a very exciting pick as well as it seemed the consensus agreed that were it not for his clavicle fracture he could have been a 1st rounder.

    Thank goodness Edmonton has a great AHL program now and hopefully can show patience. I agree LT I will be cheering like hell for both of them but will try to keep my excitement in check especially after a 2 goal performance in a blow out win.

    That being said, Pitlick has said and done the right things since his draft day. The young man could use some luck.

  • Tyler Pitlick was fine in the playoffs last year, too, and then served up a miserable AHL season even before the knee injury.

    Honestly, if I had to make a decision today about whether to sign him to another NHL deal I’d let him go, and his professional career to date in no way indicates a guy who is going to hit the 200-game mark in the majors.

      • OilersBrass

        Agreed, every talented junior player has that one game where something for them just clicks, and they find their game at that next level and gain their confidence. It doesn’t always happen right away, but Pitlick looked great in that game, hopefully that was his “click”.

        He was dominant in juniors, and is still a big physical kid with a lot of skill. There are a lot of other players I would give up on before this kid.

  • Lowetide

    I spoke with one of the associate coaches during the lockout about Pitlick.

    He mentioned that Pitlick was, for lack of a better word, dumb. He didn’t seem to have a lot of faith in him. I hope Pitlick proves him wrong because from what I’ve seen he’s got the tools to be an excellent power forward.

    • Lowetide

      We don’t have enough patience for developing power forwards, and when we have them in the palm of our hands…….we let them go.

      How good would Torres, Stoll, Glencross, Brodziak, Reasoner, (just to name a few), look playing bottom six for us?

      For the longest time the organization coveted small fast players, who could play in the new NHL. Now we covet what we don’t have, larger nasty players, who we sent packing long ago……….funny how this organization is run.

  • Lowetide

    I remember Pitlick from the Young Guns tournament against the Flames and Canucks..he along with Paajarvi looked great there but somehow he hasnt improved much since, at least not offensively, but I remember him as a big guy who can skate, throw big hits and play,a solid two way game.
    Still hope he turns it around, the fact that he plays his best games in the playoffs is encouraging for sure.

  • Lowetide

    Not to much on the farm club is advancing the way we had hoped . Dissappointed -yes. How much better have those outside OKC done ? Khaira , Zharkov , Klefbom , etc.? How about those in collegiate or junior hockey still advancing ? They won’t all make it , but is their any gems or diamond in the ruff types on the horizon from present group ? Eberle and Paajarvi spent a year , the rest down there not pressing the envelope .

  • Lexi

    Pitlick epitimizes my biggest concern with the Oilers is they still do not have a strong development program. Guys like Pitlick, Lander, Teubuert and even to a degree PRV just don’t seem to be getting much better once they turn pro, which tells me we either have a drafting problem or a development problem. I truly hope MacT is looking deep into this. I mean even with the poor drafting in earlier eras, we had guys like Pisani, Horcoff, Chimera, Grier, Rem Murray, Greene become effective NHLers.

    • OilersBrass

      I think their development program isn’t that great. Pitlick and Hamilton were great in juniors. There is no other reason for them to be so good and then come to OKC and completely lose their game and go cold. Minus a couple of players that whole OKC team hasn’t really progressed at all.

      • Wax Man Riley

        It’s because they mainly play inconsequential minutes behind a bunch of players whose best before date long expired.

        How does bringing in Green, Cheechoo, now Hordy, Eager help the prospects?

        Time for a re-think on the farm team and what it should be designed for………..development for the players, or for the coaches? I think that Todd Nelson should be directed to stop focusing on wins and start concentrating on player dervelopment.

        • OilersBrass

          I agree with the Eager and Hordy being bad for the farm team, but as for Green and Cheechoo, they need those veteran guys to help these kids and pass on some knowledge (just like NHL teams need good vets for their rookies). I’m not saying that Green and Cheechoo are the best fit for that role though, but you get what I mean.

          You’re spot on about the farm team, they really need to re think the way they’re doing things down there. The Oilers are in a re build and the development of these prospects should come first.

  • Lexi

    I don’t agree OKC or whom are drafting are a major problem . Because of multiple injuries here and there , and a weak core , many have been rushed up and down with expectations perhaps to high and to rushed . A few will pan out eventually , but when is the question . Some need to remain in AHL till they excel at that level first before getting called up . We don’t have that luxury , seeing as our base is in shambles and needs to be rebuilt with NHL’ers not AHL’ers . A good firm core is what’s needed so as they can develop longer/ better .

  • Aitch

    I’m looking forward to his next season. This was supposed to be the first time in years that Pitlick played at the same level one season after another. Maybe he thought it would easy too. The injury might’ve given him time to realize he had to find another gear at this level or made him realize he could play at this level once he saw “how much time he really has out there.”

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    I think the Lockout screwed everyone up this year. Hopefully Pitlick can become someone tougher in a few years. The Oliers just need him to hit guys and play well defensively . If he could do that and chip in 13 goals a year he would be a Gem. Lets give him a few more years.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Some of these comments might glance at the real issue as to why the Oilers have been brutal for so long: I’m too lazy to look it up, but I am certain that no team in the playoffs doesn’t have at least a few players that were “developed” by their farm system. The Oilers roster is comprised of the following: 1) high draft picks that entered the NHL directly (Hemsky, Nuge, Gagner, Hall, Yak, hell even Horcoff and Smyth only had a cup of coffee in minors, but that’s not my point); 2) Direct entry from another system (Petry, Petrell, Shultz,Smid, MPV) 3) From other teams: (Belanger, Jones, Potter, etc…) Only DD is “home-grown” and emerged from the system. Its amazing after so many years of being bad, no one has figured out that the organization is a big fail in terms of developing talent…Not read one article about that in the last 4 years. Are we ok at drafting: sure, because the odds are with high drafts, a team will get first rounders who play in the NHL. Even as bad as the Leafs are they “developed” for instance Khadri, who like it or not is bona fide NHL’er. We have not “developed” a roster player, (save DD, who could be traded for at least 20 other goalies) By a country mile that is the defining reason why the OIL isn’t in the playoffs, year after year.. I don’t get why no one here gets that.

  • OilersBrass

    Oilers ranked NBR.3 overall in prospects by Hockey Futures site and Nbr.1 in defencesive prospects . Don’t expect much better than that -in a nutshell . it’s pretty good in comparison to rest of league ! Our biggest problem down there is maybe to much youth as the say in hockey futures .

  • OilersBrass

    Hockey futures says to much youth on the farm creates maybe to much competition , but it limits the amount of time each player gets to develop – thus making it a longer process . Is that part of our problem ?

  • MarcusBillius

    I think the problem is the big club. It is odd to me that a team that has placed so low in the table year after year after…. Can’t let young talent play 25 games in arow on the big club. Lander, Harti, Pitlick, Tuebert and yes Plante should have role by now. Instead we have Sutton, Potter/Peckham, Smyth, Belanger, Jones.
    Ask yourself which group has more upside? If the first group fails how much more worse coud it have been… The first overall pick FOUR years in a row?

    • MarcusBillius

      I disagree , as the ones you mentioned in AHL never earned that spot over the incumbents , and still are not NHL ready . We were not strong granted , but still better than promoting the group you mentioned . Remember , this is the first year we have even flirted with the playoff picture in quite awhile . Sutton did not play all year as I recall -on the injured list , and likely traded or let go this summer-he was a non factor in other words .