Tyler Pitlick has been granted the skills needed to play in the NHL for a long time. He can skate, shoot and has size. Those three traits have translated into ten year NHL careers for many players. Unfortunately there have also been many players with those three traits that have had a cup of coffee in the NHL. Pitlick needs to ensure this isn’t just a cup of coffee visit.
Sunday night, as the Oilers were trying to break their eleven game losing streak, an opportunity arose for Tyler Pitlick to help his cause. Tommy Wingels, a player I really like, took a healthy run at Pitlick behind his own net. Pitlick picked up the puck, to Scrivens’ right, and was trying to skate it out of trouble, instead he skated right into it.
Wingels stops him in his tracks. The bad news for Pitlick was that he got hit, good news was that opportunity presented itself. He could show his team mates and the whole Oilers organization a different side of himself. He should have gotten up, and skated right over to Wingels to engage him. He should have given him a push or said something to him. Done something. Instead he just skated by with no reaction.
Now, I get it… Maybe Pitlick didn’t want to take a penalty. The team was playing a good game, and he may have been afraid to put a very dangerous power play unit of the Sharks on the ice. The fact is, Pitlick is also a young player, unsure of how he should handle those situations. It’s hard to make a split second decision like this, but he should have responded.
There is a need on this Oilers squad for a player with ability in the top nine forwards to play outside the lines. He should get in peoples faces and rub people the wrong way. Trust me, if Pitlick would have gone right at Wingels, and stood up for himself, no one inside the organization — no one who understands how important that part of the game is, at least — would have been disappointed. They would have been thrilled.
How do you think Gallager from the Habs would have handled being hit like that? Or Burrows? Or Marchand? Would they have skated away? NOT A CHANCE. They would have gone right Wingels. Even Wingels himself would have gone right at someone who did that to him.
None of Gallager, Burrows or Marchand were slam dunks to become NHL players, much less guys who have had the kind of success they have so far. These three can play all over their teams line ups. They can ride shot gun on the top lines or drop down to the fourth line. Their games don’t change. They skate, hit and shoot. They never stop competing! That is why they can play anywhere in the line up. These types of players are so valuable.
The Oilers do not have a player that can play all over the line up. The type of player that can spark a couple of players that are sleeping through a stretch of games by bringing life and emotion to the trio. There is huge opportunity for Pitlick to be this guy.
I remember his first training camp. The first time I saw him on the ice I bought into him. I thought it would be a very short time before he was in the NHL. Injuries and a slower development has changed his arrival time but the skill set is there.