Tyler Pitlick is in an ideal situation. The physical winger has a very good opportunity in Edmonton, as the club is in search of his player-type. The Oilers recalled him today, and this audition will have a major impact on his future.
WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR?
Looking ahead to next season, Edmonton has the following wingers under contract and are committed to them at the NHL level:
- Taylor Hall
- Jordan Eberle
- David Perron
- Nail Yakupov
- Matt Hendricks
They also have Luke Gazdic (rfa) and Jesse Joensuu (signed for next year, but not a lock) on the current roster. Ryan Smyth and Ryan Jones are UFA’s who may or may not return, and Anton Lander got a head start on the audition process that Pitlick will likely start tomorrow night against Buffalo.
There’s a job or two there. Third line LW/RW alongside Gordon and Hendricks; and another one on the 4line depending on how Joensuu plays in the fall.
Pitlick is an RFA, and based on his previous cup of coffee in the NHL is a player Edmonton wants to see before making a decision. Chris Westcott at oilers.nhl.com wrote an insightful article on prospects today, with OKC coach Todd Nelson saying, “I see this guy as not being back in OKC next year. I see him playing in the National Hockey League,” and that’s a strong letter of recommendation.
Pitlick showed well during a callup earlier this season, and then suffered an injury. He’s been working his way back since then, and has been scoring at a .696 point per game clip.
PITLICK SINCE JANUARY 1, 2014 IN OKC
- Overall: 23, 7-9-16
- Power Play: 23, 3-1-4
- Penalty Kill: 23, 0-0-0
- Even Strength: 23, 4-8-12
Most of the boxcars have been at evens, and there’s no surprise. Pitlick did get a push on the power play, and cashed in three goals. I doubt he’ll see much duty in Edmonton with the man advantage, and many of his goals were scored with third-line types, which is the slot he’ll fill in Edmonton if he makes the grade.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
This is too close to call. Tyler Pitlick spent much of his entry-level deal injured and ineffective, but has turned the corner this season. Coach Todd Nelson said “He’s taken his game to a whole new level and he’s ready to play up there.”
If the Oilers can solve their 3rd line RW problem via Oklahoma City, and not have to go out searching to fill the job via free agency, it’s one less problem to solve. These next 12 games are important to both team and player. Pitlick’s competition (Lander, Joensuu, maybe Horak) isn’t overwhelming and there’s a real NHL job within reach.
We’ll know this fall who wins the job, but Pitlick has a chance to grab it beginning tomorrow.