Pitlick: “I’m Sick of Playing in the American League”

TylerPitlick

Tyler Pitlick debuted in the Oilers organization on October 9th, 2011 in Texas, as a member of the Oklahoma City Barons. He had an assist in his second game, and tallied a goal and an assist the next night. It was a fantastic start, but his next 220 pro games have been filled with anger, frustration and pain.

In five pro seasons Pitlick has played 196 games in the AHL and 27 in the NHL, but he’s missed 156 games due to injury. He’s missed 61 NHL games and 95 in the AHL.

Injuries have been a major factor in his inability to become a regular NHLer, however, last September during Oilers training camp and preseason Pitlick, in his own words, laid an egg and was sent down.

I spoke to Pitlick after he signed a one-year, two-way contract ($725,000 in NHL, $95,000 in AHL) with the Oilers.

He was very honest about last season’s training camp.

“I don’t know. I think … [pause] I just laid an egg. I don’t know what happened. I started really slow. I didn’t
have a good first few games, I thought that my last game was pretty good, but
it was too late; they had already made their decision and I got sent home right
after that game. I don’t think you can come into training camp slowly, you’ve
got to be firing right away and proving you are better than the guy next to
you. I’ve got to come in right away and play well this year,” said Pitlick.

What made it more frustrating for Pitlick was knowing there were jobs up for grabs. The Oilers had some openings in their bottom six and everyone had an equal chance to impress new head coach Todd McLellan.

Pitlick knows the situation. He’ll have to play exceptionally well to earn a spot, and considering Iiro Pakarinen earned McLellan’s trust last year it makes Pitlick’s task of making the roster even more daunting.

“Anyone in the bottom six is my competition.
Iiro Pakarinen and I will probably be battling against each other. We’re pretty
similar players, but we could both go in and have good camps and
both make the team, so it really doesn’t matter. I think, like you said,
there is a lot of uncertainty in the bottom six and I’m just going to go in and
do what I can. I’m not going to worry about what anyone else is doing,” said Pitlick.

He will employ a different approach at training camp this year.

“I think that I can be a little too nice sometimes because those guys are all my
buddies. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I think that there is
obviously a point, you don’t want to run someone from behind or anything stupid,
but you’ve got to play hard and you’ve got to prove yourself even in team
scrimmages

“They know  when I am playing my game and when I’m healthy that I can compete for
a job. I’m not going to plan on going to the American League. I think that it
would be stupid for anyone to plan on starting in the AHL. I’m going to go in
there and compete for a job
. I’m
getting desperate. I’m sick of playing in the American League.
” he said bluntly.

Pitlick needs to get McLellan’s attention right away in training camp. He doesn’t have the luxury of being a veteran and getting the benefit of the doubt. He has NHL speed. He is good on the forecheck and he isn’t afraid to be physical. He also has some skill. He had a brutal first three months in Bakersfield last year, but showed his ability once he was healthy.

He got injured in the second game of the season. He returned three weeks later for one game, before sitting out another six weeks. He returned to play four games before missing another month. He played seven games between October and January 15th. He had no points.

He finally got healthy in January and produced 21 points during the next 24 games. He was OKC’s best forward, but he’ll need to stay healthy for more than a ten-week stretch if he wants to make the Oilers and then remain in the lineup.

He’ll come to camp hoping to be this year’s Brandon Davidson. Very few expected Davidson to make the team out of training camp. He dressed once in the Oilers first eight games, but once he got back in the coaches couldn’t take him out. He earned his spot, and Pitlick will need to do the same.

He will have new motivation this fall. Pitlick and his wife became parents in late April. His new daughter, Tatum, has added a lot of joy to his life, but it also made him realize he isn’t getting any younger. He’ll turn 25 in November. This is his sixth pro season and his window of opportunity gets smaller every year.

Not only will he compete against Pakarinen and the other veterans, he’ll have to outperform younger players like Drake Caggiula, Jujhar Khaira and others.

Pitlick sounded very determined when we spoke, but he was also very realistic. He knows what he is capable of, but he needs to stay healthy, and most importantly, he can’t lay another egg in training camp.

He needs to be focused from day one of camp. He’ll need to stand out early, and be consistent in the preseason if he wants to avoid not making the opening night roster for the sixth consecutive year.


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    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      you’d have to think this is the last chance Pitlick gets. another injury filled season or ineffective play and he’s likely outa here, right? man the Oilers injury problems year after year after year is getting on my nerves as a fan!

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          excuses are what the Flames use for losing. great offense, good D, but….”oh it was the GOALTENDING that let us down”….LOL ! your team is just overrated ! betch Hudler couldn’t wait to leave Cal-Gary….YEEEE HAWWWWW….

      • Oilerchild77

        If the Oilers had more quality depth at forward in the organization, Pitlick would already be gone.

        If he’s sick of playing in the American league, then he should stop playing so recklessly and stay healthy. And when he’s healthy, he needs to play better.

    • 24% body fat

      Pitlick was a good bet when he was drafted. Projected top 6 forward and drafted in range.

      Not all prospects turn out, this is a fact. But if they become useful players that is a good pick.

      The issue with the oilers is always drafting for size and position. The odds are these players dont make the nhl. If you draft a 3rd or 4th line player and the dont develop you are left with a useless asset. If you draft a potential top six forward and they dont recognize their full potential you may end up with a bottom 6 forward. If you do not end up with useful players for your bottom 6 through the draft than you can always find them in free agency.

      Bottom line, in a draft; pick skill regardless of size. Only draft wingers for the top 2 lines, or center for the top 3 position (a quality 3rd center with tools has value) and top 4 defenseman. Stock up on centers over wingers unless the winger has superior skill. Center can convert to wingers easier than the other way around.

      Really don’t get the Deharnais pick. College overager 3 years away from AHL. They could have just signed him after the draft and than had him play echl. But drafting him instead you are admitting he is that far from even the AHL. Some scout must be his cousin. There were projected 2nd rounders still on the board.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      i didn’t get the Desharnais pick either until i saw that he was a RD and already 20 and has already completed a year of college, as well as being 6’6″ and 210. he still may take 3 more years in college and at least a year in the AHL, but really for a 7th round pick he’s a good gamble and what do you have to lose where he was taken?

    • While I feel bad for the uphill climb Pitlick has in front of him, I am glad the team is in a position where guys like this aren’t just being given play time because they have no one else (JF Jacques, Liam Reddox, Will Acton, many many others).

      • CaptainLander

        Totally, the reality is Puljujari does not have to play in the NHL is he is not ready. Physically he is big enough but it was also clear that Drai should not have played in the NHL beyond the 9 games either.

        I like that he can play in the AHL as opposed to Junior.

        • Will

          I think Puljujarvi in the NHL will depend on a couple of things. First, whether they trade one or both of Eberle or Yak before October.

          Second it will depend on the cap situation down the line. I know there is an immediate desire to win, so they might say Puljujarvi gives them the best chance of that. But if they can keep him off the roster until the later half of the year, they don’t burn a year of his ELC and will be in a better situation in a few years.

          Right now the team has Eberle, Yak, Kassian, Pakirinen on the right side, but could bring up Pitlick, Kaharia, and Shlepyshev. Not to mention Draisaitl might start the year on the second line on Nuge’s wing.

          So it’s not guaranteed Puljujarvi starts the year on the club, but he might also make it nearly impossible for the team to leave him off.

    • MacT's Neglected Helmet

      Did he literally lay an egg last year??? I know he’s had a lot of random injuries and the last thing he wants to do is go to the doctor’s, but he should REALLY get that checked out.

    • OilCan2

      TP has the goods if he is firing on all cylinders. I hope he shows well in September.

      JP may be the last single digit draft pick we see in a while and as a RW he & TP are going head to head.

      Honestly I will be happy with a healthy line up for the 10 – 12 games no matter what players slot in.

      • MacT's Neglected Helmet

        This.

        Maybe we can “package” him with other extremely valuable assets like David Musil, Dillion Simpson, and Griffin Reinhart to get someone like Hampus Lindholm.

    • Boom76

      I’ve always thought this guy would turn it around. He’s a soft spoken kid who – in my opinion – had some bad luck and needed to get some adversity and years under him to develop some on-ice F###-You-ish-ness. With guys like Lucic and Maroon pushing and mentoring him, he may just turn out to be a player.

    • If he is bright enough to correlate 725K >>> 95K in his play, he should be fine.

      If he can’t, the 95K becomes onerous, generous and likely final in the Oil drop scheme of things.

      #captainobvious post of the day!!!!

    • Curry is Messy Eh?

      It will be pretty tough for Pitlick , because Pakirinen has a very special skill most of the Oilers don’t have…..he speaks Finnish.

      It important for JP to feel at home, as much as he can. Korpi is gone.
      McDazzling got to stay with Taylor Hall, JP is far from home and will need a bit of care so he doesn’t “FLAME” out like the under-agers we have mismanaged.

      CaJOOla is a wild card. I have watched some stuff on this kid and he is going to bust his butt.

      Would it be amazing to have Lucic and Gallagher-like player on the ice.

      We just need to stay healthy and save the puck and we are going to see a big difference.

      90 points maybe not playoffs but 90 points.

    • tileguy

      I hope he dosen’t think he has to give someone a concussion to get in the lineup, guys like Kassian and Iro might want to keep their heads up in a scrimmage.

      I’m thinkingbback to the Colten Tolbert, Ben Eager incident. ( i may have my players mixed up)

    • ubermiguel

      You have to hope Pitlick stays healthy and impresses in camp; you can never have too many players pushing for spots. That and I as a human being I feel for the kid, he’s had lousy luck.

    • BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull

      Pit could have been an Upshall Ott sort of player. If he’d remained healthy he’d been a cheaper Hendricks. Like the kid he’s going to push at camp.

      Yakimov Slephy> Lander Le test 2

      keep it big…….
      LA’s third and forth lines are like Bouncers at a Donald Trump rally…

      Lucic Maroon Kassian toughness that can put the puck in the net.