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. 


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. 


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)

  • D

    He’s looked the past two games. Hope he keeps it up.

    It was nice to read this article. Too much downer stuff with the Oiler loss last night. I thought they played okay. A frustration for sure but they’re going to get better and Pitlick may be a big part of that.

  • D

    Lets Go Tyler ! ON Wishes you a long career, never look back, always look forward now. Go buy a house ! or rent an apartment on your salary !
    lol – We need you, good luck bud.

  • 916oiler

    “Pitlick: “I’m a bug 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…””

    He’s an entomologist?

  • 916oiler

    “OK, we all have these terrible stories to get over, and you-…” – Carol Connelly

    “It’s not true. Some of us have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that’s their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you’re that pissed that so many others had it good.” – Melvin Udall

    Conversation from the movie ‘As Good As It Gets’. Seems, at least in the wild west, everyone has it better than the blue. We need some “noodle salad.”

    What the puck is “noodle salad?” I’m on it!

    A save percentage of over .900. Doobie is getting better, but even better than better is needed.

    A big, bad, just out on parole moe foe defenceman. A willing jouster. A Mike Tyson with a mouth full of ears. Yadda, yadda…

    Yakupov’s “boom stick” delivering Zues’ thunder and lightning. ETA? Soon.

    A full set of 60 minutes where the effort doesn’t waver. Fore-check all night long and finish all possible checks. Even the tiny guys…

    “We do not have to defeat them. Just fight them.” – Malcolm Wallace, Braveheart

    You don’t need to crush somebody, but you got to finish your checks. It’s getting better.

    The game last night wasn’t a crime against hockey. It just needed a little “noodle salad” and someone should have played Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ in the 3rd. Believe Damn you! And, stick to your assignments.

    Light at the end of the tunnel:

    Pitlick. WTF big guy?! Nice job, rook! You keep this effort up and this town will pucking love you! They’ll write songs and poetry and all that kinda sh*t about you.

    Eager!!!! What can I say? Not much, aside from consistency is your best friend.

    Arcobello. He is a good offensive option that can go to and from the minors without having to clear waivers this year. That’s respectable depth. I hear the rumblings about putting him in the bottom six. Try it? Why not? I’m a doubter, however, and watching the bottom six muck it up last night I would like to keep heavier players there. But,if it works, it works.

    The D core is playing better and RNH, Eberle and Perron got mad skillz. Good things are happening.

    So, what now?

    “What now? Let me tell you what now. I’ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin’ (explicit), who’ll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin’, hillbilly boy? I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your a$$.” – Marsellus Wallace, Pulp Fiction

    Get pucking medieval, boys! Crash and bang ’em up.

  • D


    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

    • Lowetide

      I would take Monahan. that’s not a shot at Nurse, who I like a lot. Monahan was ranked higher at the draft and imo has maintained that position.

      on the other hand, Nurse has 2 goals tonight for SSM 🙂

      • Lowetide

        Reason I asked was my Flames friends have been going on about Monahan like Edmonton missed the boat to a franchise player which they could not pick at 7, i keep saying Nurse could end up a better pick in 5yrs.

        Anyway thank you for the reply.

        • Lowetide

          I think it was a pretty easy choice for the Flames, and hope Monahan works out. I’d credit the oilers (and this is early) for identifying Nurse because it wasn’t such an obvious selection (there was less certainly when Edmonton picked).

          I’m looking forward to seeing Nurse rattle the Monahan’s and Baertschi’s like Regehr did to Hemsky all those years. 🙂

          • Alsker

            Been far too long since we’ve had a good “bone rattler”, other than the Rakes cameo in ’06 you have to back to the hay days. Looking forward to hearing the cracks, though we’re going to need at least one more similar player to make it truly effective. Hope you didn’t just show kLowe the new carrot to dangle out in front of us fans.

          • Flames won’t let this happen! MvGrattan is currently on patrol with future MINSTERS Breen and KNzig in the background! Flames coaches and management understand enforcing. As the great Brian Burke said: you need to create a SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT for your skill players!

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I was hoping fLames would some how feaster that pick, we’d take him and trade Gags and Hemsky in summer for stud dman.

        . . . .dare to dream . . ..

    • 916oiler

      I think they’re both going to be top players in their relative positions, and it’s really a win-win either way. So the tiebreaker goes to need. The Oilers NEED to keep the puck away from / out of their net more than they need another forward. Arco is providing much needed depth at center which helps further the case for Nurse. Of course only time will tell, but that’s where we sit.

    • Monahan will make the instant impact, and likely will be a good player for a while. However, I think Nurse, in the long run, will be a big impact guy that this team will lean on heavily. He’s mean, he’s offensive, and he can play a solid game of D… both players are the types that all good teams could use, so there is really nothing wrong in having either, imho. Only difference, is Monahan gets to show how good he can be earlier.

  • Oilers Coffey

    Pitlick has also always been on my radar screen as a great energy guy on a team. He’s fast, hits and has a heavy heavy shot!
    An awesome example of hard work and keeping your eye on the prize!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hard to believe Darnell Nurse couldn’t have helped this sad sack bunch. Perhaps the worst group of defenders in the league and he wasn’t able to help. Maybe he’s over rated, or this team has no clue what they’re doing. Dallas Eakins sure looks like he’s in over his head. He looks totally lost as to where to begin. Get Laviolette in here and punt this all hat no cattle coach to the curb. Tank again this season in hopes of another top 3 selection. With the challenges already revealed, along with those yet to come, this year is over already.

  • Apparently no one has told you about the long development curve required for a defenseman. It’s stupid to think that Nurse is going to come in at 19 and run the D show here. Comments above just go to show the damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation when it comes to deciding if a player should be in the NHL now or not. There may be questions about whether Yak or others were rushed, but the Oilers made the right decision with Nurse by letting him develop where he should develop. The NHL isn’t a development league and the Oilers shouldn’t potentially hinder one guy’s career in a wasted hope to make this team better.

    The Oilers need Nurse at around age 23 or so (just to guess), not Nurse at 19. They can’t all play at 18, man! That’s why he didn’t make the team. Ungh. I don’t get some of you people.

      • Thanks for logging out of the secret account to reply… does having two accounts allow you to find someone who actually agrees with your drivel? And enough with your condescending “Nonsense” and “Good grief” crap already. At the very least, at least discover some new —-ing words to start/end your hopeless arguments with.

        At no point did I say it doesn’t ever happen. My point was that it is moronic to call him over rated because the Oilers sent him back. Nurse had a great camp, and it was clear that they sent him back because he’s quite skinny and not ready for the rigors of the NHL (plus it would be better served for him to eat up as many minutes in the Soo as he can). We all held our breath watching him get hit hard and favor his shoulder.

        There are examples of guys who have had success at D right out of junior, but there are quite a few examples of guys who have have fallen flat on their face by playing straight out of junior too.

        The Oilers are going the safe, patient route. I don’t think there is any reasonable Oilers fan that is upset by this. The Oilers having a terrible blueline should not factor into deciding to keep Nurse in the NHL. See Sam Gagner, arguably, for the reason why that should be. Albeit a diff position, it still is a good comparison.

      • Newj


        A few d-men currently playing in the NHL who didn’t step into the league in the year after they were drafted. In fact many of them weren’t impact players in their inaugral year.

        Shea Weber – nope didnt play after he was drafted
        Duncan Keith – ” ”
        Ed Jovanovski – 1st overall – nope
        Mike Green – 1st round but played 1/2 season in AHL
        PK Subban – last years Norris winner – spent most of one season developing in Hamilton
        A Pietrangelo – 4th overall was sent back to Jr. & a stint in Peoria
        K Shattenkirk – 1st round (14) didnt break in for a few years.
        Z Chara – Norris winner.. played majority of season in AHL

        The list is extensive.

      • OnlyOil

        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

    • Quicksilver ballet

      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.

      • Jeremy

        Hall, Hopkins, Gagner, Yakupov.
        Coffee, Lowe, Nurse.
        One of theses things is not like the other….
        Young defensemen have always taken longer to develop than forwards as it’s a far more difficult position to learn.

        Ugh, I just don’t get obtuse people.

      • Wax Man Riley

        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.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I don’t agree with your analysis. Many young defenceman coming out of junior are playing once again this year successfully and making a difference in a positive way on their teams .Even the years before this . Jones and Ristolainen just for example . He was more ready than some of our other ones . Your thinking is old school , Nurse could not be added because of cap space more than most other excuses . He is already better than most our defenceman as results show us at bottom of league in that department . What”s he going to learn going back to juniour where he dominates once again . To me that represents probably arrested development in some cases . I think your out to lunch on your assessment of defenceman and Nurse in particular .

      • Jeremy

        @ 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.

  • Rob...

    4 freakin goals for Omark tonight in a 5-4 OKC win and he was -1 on the night. Gosh +/- is a great stat, I sure hope someone uses it to compare players from other teams against the Oilers players again sometime soon.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The most pathetic set of blueliners in the league. You’d think the Oilers could use some young fresh enthusiasm on the back end, if only to have one more option back there.

    Sending him back is really paying off in spades. How much worse could it have gotten had he stayed for 40 or less games. The Oilers are only 3 pts out of dead last place overall again for Christmas sake.

    Clearly one of the best 6 blueliners in camp, things are going extremely well without him it appears. Nurse certainly appears more NHL ready than that Dallas Eakins character has shown.

  • Talbot17

    i know a lot of people think his stint is going to be short, i personally think Brown was expendable not because of Eager, or some pending trade, but Eakins simply thinks Pitlick is a keeper. Personally despite the record, Eakins is doing a good job, i have always been a Ference fan and an Eakins fan, i see a common breathe between them both and i feel the teams going in the right direction.

    I’d rather see this team at their record now than be over achieving. Lets analyze at the 21 game mark, when it truly becomes more panic ish.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

      • OnlyOil

        Having a guy like Sutton play top line minutes isn’t out of the realm of possibility for a team that once put Lennart Petrell up there. A monstrous guy who is known as a fringe goon type player protecting our two top guys isnt a bad idea. I know I wouldnt like to be a goalie having to look around Sutton during an attack. And for some reason he was taking more offensive risks during his time here and made some good rushes. I guess were the smartest team ever in pro sports, smarter then a Chicago Bears team who put in a coke machine sized lineman to punch in footballs from two yards out. Guys playing outside their comfort zone doesnt apply to a team thats been seven years in the toilet. Were just not willing to take the risks.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    QSB, I see your mouth moving but all I hear is ‘DURRRRR’. Seriously. Do you really think Nurse playing 8 minutes a night on the 3rd pairing of a bottom feeding NHL team would be better for his development than playing 25 minutes a night – and dominating – at evens, PP and PK in junior?

    There’s also the fact that the Oilers save a year of his ELC by sending him to junior. We’re not winning the cup this year, so why not give ourselves an extra year of Nurse before having to pay him big bucks?

    Good gr- I mean, hogwash!

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Lol. We’re talking about the Oilers here. Who on this club would be clearly a step up from Nurse?

      I’m thinking he’s getting top 3 minutes with this bunch, 18 mins a night till Christmas and then he goes to the World juniors. Give him what he needs. Let him play the game (40 games max) with men for as long as possible before sending him back to play with a bunch of Kids.

      Things haven’t exactly been all world here without him we can surely see.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        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.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Everything the kid needs to make real progress is right here in Edmonton. Intense competition, better training/coaching. That’s why it was worth keeping him for 35 games before sending him back to the OHL.

          I don’t deny sending him back is the best thing for him long term, but from the camp he had, how could he have not helped this apple dumpling gang hanging around for a 10 week taste/apprenticeship period. How much worse could it have gotten, 3 points out of last overall without him? One could make a case the Oilers may be doing much better with him in the lineup.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Are you naïve enough to think he would only play 8 minutes a night on third pairing when our top defenceman do not offer what he did . He was sent back early so as they could give more time to incumbents . It’s hypothetical either way , but I believe if we had kept him for a nine game stint that we might quite likely have had 3 more wins at this stage , and at least been in competitive position at this stage . At ninth game we may have decided we were better off keeping him . You look at our current record on defence , worst in league , and I doubt that he would not have made us more better . It could not only have been beneficial to keep him at least for nine game stint , from what I have seen of him and with our early bad results , I feel it would have been beneficial for club and his development .

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        No way Nurse singlehandedly wins us those 3 games. Is he gonna score three goals a game for us?

        Dubnyk still would’ve been a seive, Yak would still be struggling, Hall would’ve still been a turnover machine. One rookie defenseman wouldn’t have changed any of that.

        • 15w40

          Lets not be ridiculous here , we agree to disagree . Defence is about preventing a goal or two , more so than can he add 3 goals . He was also very adapt at getting puck and transitioning it out of zone far better than most we have on squad now . I feel it was a mistake not to give him a 9 game stint bare minimum .

          • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

            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.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    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.

  • 15w40

    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.


  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    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.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          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.