Tyler Pitlick: The Edmonton Oilers' Experiment | Oilersnetwork.com - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours

Tyler Pitlick: The Edmonton Oilers' Experiment

The Edmonton Oilers have seen their fair share of injuries. Yet of all the injuries sustained by Oiler players and prospects, none have seen more time away than 24-year-old prospect and on-the-verge NHLer Tyler Pitlick. Pitlick was signed to his third consecutive one-year contract this summer and because of how little he plays, it seems to have gone relatively unnoticed.
Photo By Connor Mah
Pitlick oozes the type of prospect characteristics every NHL franchise might want. He's feisty and likes to hit, he has speed and skill and he gives you his maximum effort every time he hits the ice. The problem is, Pitlick has the worst luck.  Since being drafted 31st overall in 2010, Pitlick simply hasn't been durable. And, since 2013, Pitlick hasn't been able to get into more than 39 games in a single season.


Pitlick has been called up twice with the Oilers. Both tenures were short, ending quickly due to injuries that would derail his progression as a prospect. In 2013-14 he missed time after hurting his knee in the same game he scored his first NHL goal. It was likely the high-point of his hockey career, followed by the low-point of his hockey career. After he recovered, he earned another call-up, but it didn't take long before he was hurt again and missed the remainder of the year. The following season, Pitlick played 14 games with Edmonton but was sidelined for four months with a lacerated spleen.
Edmonton's AHL team, the Bakersfield Condors (formerly Oklahoma City Barons), have been subject to his missing games as well. Despite his being an effective player at the AHL level, he played only 37 of 76 possible games in the 2015-16 season and hasn't had a full, healthy season with either the Barons or the Condors.

On-ice Results

When healthy, it's not as though Pitlick is a world-beater. In the 27 NHL games he's had a chance to show his stuff, Pitlick has managed only three goals and no assists. He's also a consistently a minus +/- player. In 2013-14, he had a CF% of 41.5 and a CF% rel -3.1, which is nothing to write home about.
His best season was the 2013-14 campaign in Oklahoma where he potted 22 points in 39 games. That season he was also a plus +/- player for the only time in his career and it was this production that earned him his call-up with the big club. He hasn't been able to get himself back to that kind of player since.

Why Oilers, Why?

With all the time Pitlick has missed, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the Oilers wash their hands of him. In his six seasons, there is very little evidence to suggest he'll ever be a player that will help them win hockey games. Knowing this, why are the Oilers so slow to let Pitlick go?
The answer is curiosity. Because he's missed so much time, the Edmonton Oilers don't really know what they have yet and Pitlick is a relatively risk-free signing. He's a low cap hit on a two-way deal, who takes nothing more than a roster spot on the 50-man player list. His signing is an experiment to see if Pitlick can ever live up to his potential.
Pitlick has proven nothing, yet he has those intangibles most teams want. He plays a heavy game, is a beast on the forecheck and can skate well for a 200-plus pound player. He's the personification of what Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli described he wanted in his players when he first took the GM position.
The reality is, Pitlick has done far less in more time than prospects who have already been sent packing. But, if he can stay healthy and some luck finally starts to roll his way, he could be a value deal. In short, Pitlick is a low-cost, potentially high-reward risk.
Signing Tyler Pitlick wasn't about what he's done to deserve another contract. Signing Tyler Pitlick was about finding out what this player truly is, or could ever be. He needs a healthy season to show his stuff, and if he doesn't, this is likely his last opportunity to prove people right.

For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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