Tyler Pitlick had some successful moments this pre-season. He had a game-changing shift at Winnipeg, he earned time with skilled players like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and a big check by the winger knocked Bo Horvat out of the game against the Canucks and turned up the intensity.
But the Oilers placed Pitlick on waivers Sunday morning, with the purpose of assignment to Oklahoma City.
The decision is a risk, but one that MacTavish says the team was willing to make when they went through their personnel for the opening night roster. Pitlick was joined by Steve Pinizzotto, Keith Aulie and Anton Lander on waivers.
“I think we can debate on the effectiveness of Tyler Pitlick,” MacTavish said. “I think Tyler is at a position right now that we wish he would have been at a year or a year and a half ago. He’s turned himself into a professional. I think that it ended up with Tyler, as well as Pinizzotto, were two difficult decisions. It got down to a positional bias and I thought the 13th forward here would be best served by being a centreman and it was a risk I was willing to take.”
Will Acton is currently the 13th forward the Oilers elected to keep. The team stressed that the moves were not permanent, with the evaluation process ongoing.
It was a bit of a surprise to see Martin Marincin’s name on the list of players assigned to Oklahoma City this morning. The 22-year-old played 44 games with the Oilers last season and, at times, was arguably the team’s best defenceman.
“I think, throughout training camp, there was a lot of competition for defencemen and I think you’re looking at different areas of strength and a bit of a different mix than having Marty,” General Manager Craig MacTavish said. “Marty is very good and played very well for us last year. Sending Marty down was one of those difficult decisions. It’s not a decision we can’t unwind in a very short period of time. I think, from my perspective, the decision was at what point do we give Brad Hunt the opportunity? At what point do we keep Darnell here and give him some games to see where his development is.
“I think we can all agree that Darnell is just going to continue to get better and better with this experience. Brad Hunt is a guy that we all like for his ability to provide offence. Does Marty Marincin do some things better than Brad Hunt? Absolutely. But Brad Hunt definitely does some things that can help us in an area of need. That’s difficult for Marty, but it is his third year of his entry level deal, it’s the last year that we have to try and test-drive a couple of other players before we have to make a clear decision, because quite clearly if we were going to have to put Marty on waivers we likely would have lost him.”
The Oilers forward lines at practice this morning are as follows:
23-27-6, 4-93-14, 67-55-10, 57-26-16 to start practice— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) October 5, 2014
The Oilers have reduced their training camp roster by eight this morning.
Oilers 2013 seventh-overall pick Darnell Nurse played his second solid game in a row and was a physical presence on the ice. In fact, Head Coach Dallas Eakins says it was his most physical game yet.
“He has to play physical, that’s why we drafted him,” Eakins said. “He competes that hard, he’s physical and he can make plays. That was probably the most physical game I’ve seen him play and I think he felt like he had a little swagger too, because he was jumping. Which is good for a guy of that age to be able to keep it rolling two nights in a row.”
Nurse said tonight was all about showing what he can do.
“It was a combination of everything,” Nurse said. “It’s getting to that point where the final cuts are getting made so I’m just trying to go out there and show everything I can do. It’s something I can definitely do on a nightly basis, it’s just tonight it showed the most.”
Oilers veteran defenceman and off-season acquisition Nikita Nikitin went down with an ankle injury in Thursday night’s game against the Canucks. He’s not expected to miss significant time.
“Twisted his ankle,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said after the game. “We don’t expect it to be one of those longterm ones that guys get. They threw a boot on him as a precaution but we’re hopeful right now that it’s just going to be a week, two weeks tops.”
Oilers winger Tyler Pitlick knocked Canucks Bo Horvat out of the game in the opening two minutes with a huge open-ice check. The intensity of the game took off from there.
The 22-year-old said the he and the team feeds off the physicality of each other.
“I think it’s contagious when anyone is being physical,” Pitlick said. “One guy lays a hit and everyone is like, ‘alright, let’s do that too.’
“Things get rolling and it’s contagious for sure.”
Pitlick was asked if he senses more pressure to perform and be physical now that pre-season is coming to a close.
“Every night is do or die. But it’s like that in the beginning of camp too. If you go out there and lay an egg, you might be sent home right away. There’s definitely more pressure as the pre-season winds down.”
Jesse Joensuu had an assist on the Oilers only goal and, according to his head coach, played a good game. But that didn’t stop the big Finnish forward from being hard on himself for taking three penalties.
“I took two bad penalties,” Joensuu said. “I should have kept my stick down on the last one. I knew that it was going to come rushing into me so I thought that I’d be ready, but I can’t take that penalty.”
Joensuu taking it hard had Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins singing his praises.
“I love when the player is hard on himself and I thought he played pretty good,” Eakins said. “I’m willing to overlook those penalties and I thought he played another big man’s game. He’s got real confidence with the puck right now and that’s something he didn’t have a whole lot of last year. He’s making plays and using his body well. We’ll overlook those penalties tonight. We know they won’t come up in the regular season, he’s just trying to play so aggressive right now. But that’s music to my ears that he’s being hard on himself, but he was good for me.”
David Perron was injured after being on the receiving end of a hit in last night’s win over Arizona. Perron struggled to exit the ice, then returned to the game later in the second. However, he would not return for the third period due to a rib injury.
This morning, Perron was absent at practice, presumably still nursing that injury. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins provided an update, saying Perron tried to give it a whirl on the ice but the coaches pulled him off.
“He’s just got some sore ribs,” Eakins said. “He came out, we were going to keep him off the ice but he wanted to get in there. Then he got out there and I could see that he was in pain shooting the puck. I’m fairly certain David has made our team, so we just had him go off the ice and get a good workout in.”