The Edmonton Oilers made a somewhat surprising decision on Sunday, bypassing recall candidates like Anton Lander and Iiro Pakarinen in order to bring up Tyler Pitlick.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 30, 2014
Pitlick replaces Jesse Joensuu on the roster, with the big Finn going on waivers a few hours earlier in the day. He’s a reasonable fit for either the Oilers’ third or fourth line and depending on the health of Matt Hendricks is probably a reasonable option to slot in alongside Boyd Gordon and Steve Pinizzotto on the team’s defensive zone specialty unit. He has NHL size and speed and some experience down the middle though he’s primarily played right wing over his professional career.
Pitlick’s demotion to the minors out of training camp was a little bit controversial; he and Pinizzotto ended up on the wrong side of the cut while Jesse Joensuu and Will Acton made the grade as the twelfth and thirteenth forwards. Craig MacTavish said the following on the day those cuts were made:
I think that we can debate the effectiveness of Tyler Pitlick. I think Tyler is at a position right now that we wished he would have been at a year or a year and a half ago. He’s turned himself into a professional. It ended up with Tyler as well as with Pinizzotto was two difficult decisions, but at the end of the day for me it got down to a positional bias, and I thought the 13th forward here would be best served by being a centreman. It [waivers] was a risk I was willing to take.
What both MacTavish and head coach Dallas Eakins emphasized that day was that the decisions made were not permanent ones, and the team would keep an open mind down the road. That’s proven true; both Pitlick and Pinizzotto are on the roster now while Joensuu is on waivers and Acton is now part of the Canucks’ organization.
Of the four guys on that list, the one with the most upside is Pitlick. He’s struggled with injuries and he’s struggled with long stretches of ineffective play but he’s also a 6′, 200-odd pound forward with exceptional speed who just turned 23 years old. He’s not lighting the world on fire in Oklahoma City (he has three points in his last nine games after posting six in his first five) but he’s a reasonable scoring option with a range of ability.
He’s a bit of a surprising add, but in his brief NHL career he’s looked pretty decent and he wasn’t bad at all in training camp either. One sort of suspects he’ll either make the grade this time around or be looking for a second opinion with another organization a year from now.