The Edmonton Oilers made a move on Monday, activating winger Tyler Pitlick off injured reserve and re-assigning Andrew Miller to Oklahoma City to make space on the roster for him.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) April 7, 2015
We might as well start with the man on his way back down to the minors. Miller originally joined the Oilers’ organization as a college free agent (he’s a Yale man) in the summer of 2013. His rookie pro season was decent, but because of his age (he’ll be 27 in September) there was legitimate reason to be concerned about his ability to improve upon it. This year, he managed it, putting up 56 points in 58 contests for the Barons, and going from eight goals a year ago to 25 this season.
That strong play put Miller in the mix for an NHL recall, and he did a pretty nice job of proving he deserved it. He scored six points in nine games, mostly playing on a line with Anton Lander and Taylor Hall, and scored a lovely first NHL goal:
Miller wasn’t perfect, and as an undersized forward who is long in the tooth for a prospect he’s always going to have some hurdles to overcome if he is to establish himself as a full-time NHL player. But these nine games with Edmonton undoubtedly helped his cause; he showed that he could survive at this level and his skating makes him dangerous.
Miller is a restricted free agent this summer and the Oilers have some tough decisions to make, but he’s made a strong case for himself on a two-way deal.
Pitlick in a regular blue jersey so it’s possible he might draw in alongside Fraser and Lander.
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) April 7, 2015
Pitlick has been the forgotten man the last while, thanks to yet another injury. This is the story of his career so far; if humanity ended today Pitlick’s legacy would be as a perpetually promising young player who got hurt every time it looked like things were on track.
He’s going to be a fascinating guy to watch over the remainder of the season, however. He has decent size (6′, 202 pounds), blazing speed and a creditable physical game; if he can ever stay healthy for a season or two we might be surprised at how good he is. Now he’s playing with his old centre and under the supervision of his old coach from Oklahoma City; these last three games afford him a real opportunity to convince the Oilers that he’s worth a roster spot next season.
One item working in Pitlick’s favour is the schedule. Edmonton plays Los Angeles tonight, San Jose on Thursday and Vancouver on Saturday. The Oilers have struggled against their own division, and don’t match up well in terms of size; Pitlick’s skillset is the kind that could really stand out in these remaining games.
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