Tyler Pitlick Injured. Film at 11.

Tyler Pitlick

A lot of times it sounds like a cop-out, but the simple truth is that for a lot of failed prospects injury is a significant factor. Tyler Pitlick isn’t yet one of those failures, but ‘injury’ looks like the single most prominent obstacle between him and the NHL right now.

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The NHL Record

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Pitlick has now played seven NHL games, or 3.5 games per leg injury. He lasted a little less than three games the last time he was recalled, back in October, then suffered a knee injury that cost him 19 contests. This time, he made it almost four games before having to leave a contest early with an injury of indeterminate severity.

It might be freakishly bad luck, but based on his history it’s starting to get difficult to dismiss these injuries as simple bad luck.

The Long-Term Record

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Pitlick has had two big stretches of effective play in the minors this year.

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After a middling start and an NHL recall (ending in injury), he took a little bit of time to find his game. From mid-December to the end of January, the young forward put up 12 points in 15 games and shot the puck on net 51 times.

Then he got hurt and missed three weeks, and took a couple of games to really get back into the swing of things. Then he went on a run where he put up seven points in nine games and recorded 22 shots, culminating in his latest recall and latest injury.

By my count, Pitlick’s up to more than a year’s worth of regular season games lost since he was drafted:

  • 2013-14: 25 games (19 NHL, six AHL)
  • 2012-13: 32 games in the AHL
  • 2011-12: 14 games in the AHL
  • 2010-11: 16 games in the WHL

Information on injuries below the NHL level can be hard to find, so the games totals prior to this year are simply the number of regular season games played by his teams that he didn’t participate in, but it should be roughly accurate. In 2010-11, an ankle injury ended Pitlick’s season; since turning pro it’s mostly been knee injuries with a concussion thrown in for variety.

Pitlick does a lot of things well. He’s found his scoring touch in the AHL, he’s big and he’s fast – that’s a pretty nice trio of qualities for a guy on the door of the NHL. But he’s also a 22-year-old who can’t stay healthy and doesn’t project above the bottom-six at the NHL level even if he can. He’ll have to clear waivers if he’s sent down next season, but at this point it’s hard to imagine the Oilers setting aside a fourth line job for him over the summer, simply because he’s a question mark.

It’s not anybody’s fault, but it’s an ugly thing for player and team alike.

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Update: Some good news for Pitlick, bad news for fellow winger Ryan Jones,


  • Zarny

    If its not meant to be its not meant to be.Fate.Luck.Karma. The kid has more bad than good luck.I feel for him.He has not earned a spot yet.let fate decide next season.If a team picks him off waivers then so be it.

  • shanetrain

    I believe it would be a critical mistake to let this kid walk in the summer. Sign him and let him continue to work in the A. In a year or two, he will be banging on the door if not already on the roster in the bottom six.

    Do not let him walk!

    • tboneWazoo

      I agree, but he kid is a walking band-aid…fragile little dude. Letting him walk wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I would keep him in the minors until he put on some man-sized weight and strength to keep up with the big boys. Same thing happened to Nuge and we were lucky. Nuge still isn’t strong enough for the NHL in my opinion. You can’t keep putting the boys in with the men. they get crushed – just like Fedun did.

      • shanetrain

        I dont think one could label him injury prone yet. Although, the braintrust has a tough decison as he is either staying or forgotten … soon.

        I just hope they haven’t given up on the kid yet. Bad asset management. The Oilers decisions on these matters in the past is telling. Hope MacT makes the right choice.

  • O.C.

    Yep. At 22 he is done.

    The kid is learning. His style of game is to get his nose dirty. No different than a scorer learning how to beat players at higher skill levels, the competition level is higher for him from junior -> AHL and he had to learn awareness, how to and how not to put your body in poor positions.

    He’s just now learning the next level of AHL -> NHL. He will take knocks along the way, but he will figure it out. The situation for him to learn as a fourth liner is perfect.

  • Zarny

    I missed what happened to Tyler last night and it really is too bad that he keeps getting injured. Is it all bad luck, not properly taking a hit or dishing one out or a bit of both. I also thought he was a lot more noticeable on the earlier call up but that could have been that he was going out of his way to finish checks.

  • shanetrain

    At least he’s gotten some nice NHL paycheques before he gets cut loose this summer.

    I wish him health and happiness going forward, but it’s over for him in Edmonton. Turn the page.

    • Not sure why you would necessarily turn the page at this point? He has shown that he is developing(i.e. progressing). He is certainly one of there best prospects currently to come up and play a 4th line role. He rehabs like a pro, resets by playing in the AHL again and all goes well gets another shot. I really don’t see the wisdom in walking away at this point?

  • Zarny

    I don’t think the team cuts him loose. He’ll get another offer to re-sign and they’ll give him more opportunities to work through the issues and prove his health. People tend to panic when it comes to waivers but you have to remember that if a team puts a claim on a player, they have to keep him on their roster the entire year. Else if they send him down, we get first pick to yank him back. His health issues are precisely the reason why a lot of teams will shy away from picking him up if placed and let’s face it, if he’s up here and playing well and healthy they won’t just waive him for funsies.

    The only thing that sucks for him right now is that the next contract’s probably not going to be much of an improvement on the one he’s already got. C’est la vie. Work harder, kid.

  • O.C.

    It’s taken him 3 years in the minors just to develop into a decent AHL player. He may make the NHL one day but he’s fringe. These types of player are a dime a dozen.

  • O.C.

    It all depends on what the injury is.

    If its the same injury over and over, that’s one thing. If its a different body part each time, that may be another.

    The question mark for young Pitlick is if the knee injury he had to start this parade is a chronic “will never completely heal” situation then you’ve got another Selmar Odelein, which would be a shame.

  • O.C.

    Fate, karma, etc. It’s what separated Wayne, clear above Mario statistically, leaving no room for the career debate. Could have, should have, might have. Wasn’t.

  • Stack Pad Save

    They don’t let him walk because they have no other prospects like him this close to the NHL. The only way the Oilers let this kid go is in a trade for an upgrade on him or or at some other position.

    I would really like to see this kid turn a corner and become a legitimate power forward at the NHL. You see what Perry and Getzlaf did last night and it just shows how much the Oilers need a Power Forward or 2 with some game.

  • Stack Pad Save

    Put all these so called kids and there are many , all of the top six, along with GAgner,Petry, on a bus and send them to something like Ft Bragg, or Gary Roberts camp. They will all come back as men in the fall. Too many cup cakes on this team.

    Look at the Ducks last night, short and tall, and big and small, they all play hard nosed hockey, unlike the Oilers. Oilers dont have a clue what it means to be hard on the puck and play a possession game.

    If they dont change, will have to send Oilers to the Metro division.

    • I watched him at the same rookie camp as Taylor Hall and thought that he was a lock to make the NHL. Big, strong and a great shot. I was think second line or third at worst

      Oilers should not count on him to solve his injury problem and for that reason the team should move on.

    • tboneWazoo

      JW, do know of any players who had several injuries at the beginning of their career who were able to overcome them and become a full-time NHLers for a good 5 yrs without injury? I can’t think of any….

      Can anyone think of a player?

      Of course the odds are seemingly stacked against him, but if there are any comparables, as a fan of the kid I would like to see if there is a precedent so that I can cling to some hope for him.

  • I watched Pitlick’s last shift and there was no incident that showed him to be hobbled. His last shift was Hendrick’s 2nd fight. Pitlick stood on the ice at the boards by the bench, he didn’t appear to be in pain.

    Did he injure himself on the way to dressing room, or maybe his knee swelled. Poor guy, I hope he recovers this summer, I had him pencilled in full-time next season.

    I wish him a speedy and successful recovery and career.

  • I’m glad to hear that he likely won’t miss any time. I’m not sold on him in the NHL next year at this point, but a strong finish could help change that. He brings some good things to the table so he definitely should be signed in the off-season. I don’t think he’s a big concern on the waiver wire at this point however.

  • Zarny

    Another injury is certainly unfortunate. You don’t get better sitting on the shelf. Has to be frustrating for Pitlick and for the Oilers they need some of the draft picks that weren’t 1st overall to start filling roles.

    I don’t know enough about Pitlick’s training habits but every NHLer should be obsessive about fitness. Maybe cash in a groupon for some yoga.

    • Zarny

      Zarny, you are kidding. YOGA class. Thats all some of these cupcakes need. Tell Gadzic he has to go to Yoga class and roll around on a mat.

      They need Gary Roberts.

      • Zarny

        From Gary Roberts’ High Performance website:

        Professional Off-Season Program:

        “This is a one of a kind off-season program incorporating off-ice training, technical skating sessions, weekly YOGA classes, weekly sports therapy treatments, post-workout meals, BioSteel and GR Nutrition Program.”

        You’re welcome dumba**.

  • Zarny

    I think they should try and sign him to a one year two contract for next year. He has lost alot of time to injuries at such a young age. As a result of this, lets assume he is one year behind in his development. Lets make him part of a very competetive training camp come september. I would not be worried about waivers with any of the players trying to a make the 29th place team.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    I think with these fringe players the decision making is more about the roster spot…..who if anybody is he holding back?….if he’s holding back a legitimate prospect that deserves a shot then waive him or move him…..if not then resign him.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    The injury pattern is a concern, although this one apparently was only a scare, but I expect to see Pitlick as a bottom six Oiler next season, partially because there is so little competition. If the injuries continue, of course, his NHL career could be derailed before it really begins. Hopefully a few experienced, hard nosed competitive veteran guys, like Hendricks, will be added to the mix.

    That was Jonesy’s swan song, however. He wasn’t coming back, anyway, and can only hope for a two-way deal in another organization as an AHL journeyman at best. I see Gordon, Hendricks, Lander and Pitlick in the bottom six next year, with Gadzik as a depth forward. Maybe one more year of Smyth, but I think Joensuu is headed for waivers or OKC for the last year of his contract. It doesn’t look like there are any other legitimate bottom six candidates on the farm, so MacT has to dig up a couple.

  • shanetrain

    Honestly I think he shouldn’t play the rest of the season. He needs to give his leg a break(even if it is 100%). He should really work on his leg rehab this summer. I say sign him to a 2-way 1 year contract. Let him develop because earlier this season he just turned his pro hockey career around. People went from “cut him loose already!!” to “keep him!!”.

  • shanetrain

    Call Kenny Holland, ask him what he would do and then do that. Look at this Nyquist on the Wings. Another 4th rounder from 6 years ago, cut his teeth in Sweden and AHL..now look at him (although relatively small sample size)….Holland sprinkles gold dust on his draft picks it seems.