The first prospect I followed closely as a fan was Bob Gainey. Not because I’m an expert in the field of defensive forwards, but because his boxcar numbers looked puny compared to all of the other first round picks in 1973. How could Montreal value a forward who scored 22 goals in a season, when the guy who was taken just before Gainey had 58 goals? The answer, it came to pass, was that prospects have varying areas of strength and weakness, and Bob Gainey’s value was only on display during the defensive side of the game.

As a fan, I’ve been staring a Tyler Pitlick for a long time, trying to figure out what kind of player we’re looking at, and what kind of player we should expect when he arrives as an Oiler. The problem I have figuring out Pitlick is this: most everyone I talk to suggests to me he’s on track as an NHL prospect. Good size, good skater, hits people and moves the puck well. And the people I’m talking to (Todd Nelson, Jim Byers, Eric Rodgers, Neal Livingston, Patricia Teter) are smart people with an eye for good hockey.

However, the boxcars and any available advanced stats suggest something else. The most damning evidence comes from his shooting percentage:

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

This is a terrible number for a forward, simply awful. Pitlick is touted as having a heavy shot–Redline made a point of mentioning it in his draft day bio–but so far in his pro career Tyler Pitlick has a shooting percentage of of 5%. Ryan Smyth, a man whose slapshot can’t rip paper, has a career shooting percentage of 11.4 in his NHL career. So it isn’t the power of the shot. 


During this training camp, Pitlick has shot the puck 5 times, and all of them I recall came from a long way–a long way–out. Pitlick doesn’t seem to be a shrinking violet, he’s hit everything that moves most nights, but doesn’t have the puck on his stick long and doesn’t drive to the net. He caught Jesse Joensuu driving to the net last night with a perfect pass to post his only crooked number (3, 0-1-1 +1) during training camp. 

I’m pleased for Pitlick this fall, as new coach Dallas Eakins has been seeing him good:

  • 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."


I have no idea if Tyler Pitlick will ever play in an NHL game. I do have a better idea about him as a prospect, though. He has a nice range of skills, can pass, make a pass, play a physical game and bring energy every shift. He also has a good shot, but he’s wasting a lot of gun powder because he’s taking those shots from long range. 

I have no idea how hard it is to coach that into a player, but it has to be easier than teaching size. I’m upbeat about Pitlick, here’s hoping good things happen for him in Oklahoma City and Edmonton this season. 

  • Jason Gregor

    i would like to see him in OKC with Lander and Omark playing first line minutes. A TC does not a roster spot make. He needs to be more consistent over a longer period before he can show up in TC and earn a spot. Just 2 many unknowns yet. This team needs more assurance in terms of what a player/s bring at the NHL level.

    That said he may surpass Ryan Jones on the depth chart but I think Eakins will bide his team. Definitely if he plays like this in OKC he’ll be on Eakins mind as a callup.

    Is Smack in town?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Oh man, I was hoping DSF would give us his thoughts on Nurse. I’m sure he has atleast one eyebrow raised. He must’ve retired for the evening already.

    Pitlick, put up 40-50 pts and 125 pm’s this coming season in the AHL, and we’ll take you a little more serious next fall. Watch him revert to last yrs form when he goes to work for the Pit Boss in OKC. If only Eakins was the coach in OKC, Tyler could go places.

  • Spydyr

    Bummer – Nurse sent back to Juniors . First year in a long time we have no draftee to get excited about . Flames finishing above us says little about organizations attempt to make us a contender . Could Flames get that much better in just one offseason over our 4-5th year attempt ?

    • Spydyr

      I could not happier they sent Nurse back to junior. It didn’t hurt the other best young defenseman in todays game. Now let us hope Nuge is not rushed back early.

      The new regime seems to be making much better decisions so far.

  • Jason Gregor

    I don’t think Pitlick has taken that long to develop. Most picks outside the 1st round take more time. Of course his AHL numbers aren’t great, but I think he can still become a player.

    From his draft class only 9 players taken behind him have played 10 NHL games thus far. This is the best he’s looked at an NHL camp, and that should give him confidence heading down to the AHL.

    If he can stay healthy, I think we’ll have a much better idea of what type of player he’ll become. Good article.

  • Bam! Lowetide with the beauty quick wit.

    Seriously though, if you’re opinion is that Edmonton will be a terrible team again, OK.. but I think Calgary is in a state of hell and is basically Edmonton circa 2008. I think they have some good up and comers like Baertschi and Monahan, but they, like the Oilers for several years, have surrounded them with turds. The biggest of those are in net. Potential for Ramo to be alright, but just potential.

  • RexLibris

    Maybe Pitlick doesn’t need to be a shooter to score. Using Smyth as a comp, maybe Pitlick is one of those players who can be stuck in front of the net and look for the tip-in. He’s big enough and his reckless crash-bang style shows he’s willing to go into traffic.

    Just one possible alternative to explore with him as his career develops.

  • DSF

    He HAS to do it in the AHL first. Terrible message to let him leap frog into the National league based on a couple of good energy-level exhibition games at camp.

    Let him play this way for 80 games in OKC with some looks on PP and PK. 19 minutes a night. If he can maintain this compete level and pot 20 at the farm level, then maybe we have something to get excited about.

    His camp is encouraging, but let’s not forget how poor his AHL career has been to this point.

  • Absolutely love that Eakins quote. That is good stuff. Guys need positive reinforcement sometimes too.

    I have to admit, I was really blown away by how well Pitlick played yesterday. Deserving of a star. The impatient fan in me was about to abandon all hope for him (mainly because of unflattering reports of him in OKC), but he played exactly how the Oilers needed him to. He was physical, all over on the ice, worked hard to back check and seemed to assist in some chances too. If he can keep that up, he’ll be earning a spot in the lineup soon.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      G depth is not a problem for the nucks at all.

      Ours is much, much worse.

      Though the signing of Rimmer today is an interesting move. one to watch.

    • Joy S. Lee

      Belov’s a player, hey? Composed, big, durable (well, he appears to be durable), tough, an almost quiet but definite confidence, slick moves in tight quarters, doesn’t panic, good, hard passes, leans on opponents…this guy is looking like he could be a major find, to my eye, at least.

      Nice work, MacT.

  • Joy S. Lee

    I have read a lot of the
    blog on pitlick….does anyone else think there is something else at work here?…..what do you think it is?..why do you think he is in the mix so much more than previously?..a little older and wiser perhaps. all the above. but the key is the coach. he has given this young man a torch, so to speak?..when you are taken aside by your boss and he basically asks you if you want to be an NHL player because that’s the way you are a great motivator…Eakins(?) is unreal in my opinion

  • Joy S. Lee

    Excellent article and posts as well. I like Pitlick, too, and think he’ll not only be in the NHL next year, but he’ll be an impact player…and I don’t mean by his scoring exploits.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    I think Pitlick needed the extra year of junior to dominate and develop. Going to College as a 17 year old, then junior and then pros the next year was bad for him. He also switched positions and which may have slowed his development.

    However every time you watch him you see a player with NHL size and speed. I’ve been hoping he could become a Travis Moen bottom 6 type hard nosed forward. He looks like a potential 10 goal scorer who is hard on the fore-check and with that speed you’d hope he could become a dominate penalty killer. He’s got that ability to win puck battles that is what is so impressive about his game. He runs over guys occasionally on the fore-check and hopefully his skills will translate to the NHL. I think we have a player. However I think he should get another year in the AHL if it wasn’t for the fact Jones has sucked and Hamilton has been unimpressive.

  • YFC Prez

    Thanks for this LT

    I’ve been watching Pitlick like a hawk this TC and I like the player and the physical element he brings, I was hoping one of the writers would touch up on his performance. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is impressed.

    I have always seen a very usefull 3rd line C in Pitlick, Hopefully he keeps trending up….Though he was close to fading out of the system last year, his development curve seems to have taken a bullish steep U-turn…good signs.

  • Lowetide

    Eakins sure is saying a lot of good things… I hope he can walk the walk, because if he can walk even half as good as he talks we will have a keeper. Fingers crossed. I’m tired of new coaches, and hoping things will get better. Lets hope Eakins is the man.

    PS What’s up with the Calgary Flames themed background image. Cringe, terrible…. Worst ever. I actually will go out of my way NOT to go to Oodle Noodle because of it. But it did remind how bad the Flames suck and that made me happy.

  • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

    I think and hope thats the last time I have to see Jones not make a play. This summer when I heard we resigned him was very confusing to me? His puck control is Mike Brownish but no where near the heart and guts needed to be an effective bottom 6 forward. I get the charm and underdog appeal but I hope the day has come we “bid him adieu”

  • Tikkanese

    Good article. Though I take about as much stock in Shots(and thusly Shooting %) as I do in Hits. They are both very inaccurate.

    We also have enough guys who don’t shoot enough. So if Pitlick does in fact shoot from everywhere, he will help balance that out. If he ever makes it that is, though there does appear to be a player there.