Future Watch: Tyler Pitlick
Minnesota State alum adapting well to the WHL in Medicine Hat
|Tyler Pitlick skates at the Oilers development camp that took place this past July.
Since being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers 31st overall in this past June’s NHL Entry Draft, Pitlick has been thrust into the prospect spotlight as the youngster looks to make an early impression with the organization and fans across Oil Country.
With development camp, rookie camp and a main training camp already written on his NHL resume with Edmonton, Pitlick has now settled into the season with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. After spending the 2009-10 campaign with Minnesota State University of the WCHA, Pitlick is looking to further showcase his offensive game and physical dominance in a league closer to his new NHL home.
"It's physical," said the 6-foot-2, 190-pound centre. "College was physical, but it's just a little bit different. There's always someone on you or someone slashing you or something like that."
As a player known for a complete package of diverse skill-sets, the physicality in the WHL seems to be playing into the hands of the rangy forward. The opportunity to exude more of his unique attributes has opened up the ice and allowed him to take over in an offensive role.
"I like to use my body to protect the puck down low in the offensive zone. Obviously I'm a big guy and I like to make some hits and do things that way. I think when I'm doing that, I'm usually pretty successful and I'll score some goals."
So far that’s happening with great regularity. The 19-year old is playing within his limits and having some tremendous success in the process. Although the physical aspect is an obvious difference, Pitlick insisted that the raw talent isn’t dissimilar from the college level.
"As far as speed or skill-wise, I'd say it's pretty much the same,” said Pitlick of the WHL competition. “There might be some talented young guys here that you wouldn't obviously see in college, but I'd say it's pretty much the same overall. The physical play really sets it apart."
While Pitlick’s offensive game is sure to be a highlight for the Medicine Hat organization, the highly-skilled forward was comfortable in taking the humble approach when asked if he had set any personal goals for the rest of the season.
|Tyler Pitlick with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
At this juncture in the season, Pitlick has accumulated 10 goals and 22 points in only 19 games. Having already exceeded his offensive totals from last year, albeit in a much different league, the extra confidence has been a nice bonus early in his Tigers career.
"There’s always some kind of adjustment period, but getting some goals early really helped. I think I’m getting better every day, and that’s pretty much my goal – to keep improving and better my game throughout the season."
The Oilers hope so, too.
Edmonton has long been devoid of great organizational depth at the centre position, meaning the likes of Pitlick and other recent draftees have developed an immediate level of importance to the long-term success of the franchise.
Immediate importance or not, the Oilers aren’t about to rush their prized prospects regardless of the position they play.
Pitlick officially began his career as an Oiler this past September when he participated in the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, BC. While the likes of Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle stole the spotlight due to their inevitable inclusion into the full-time roster, Pitlick turned heads and came away with one of the most notable impressions among all the players that attended.
"I just tried to take in as much as I could and make sure I was doing things right,” Pitlick said of the tournament experience. “Lots of listening and paying attention. I wanted to keep it simple."
The offence was there, as expected, as he recorded two goals in three games played. But it was his physical game and intense, unrelenting forechecking qualities that garnered the most attention.
|Tyler Pitlick appeared in one pre-season game this fall.
While it was a brief introduction, Pitlick impressed and drew the immediate respect of fans and the most important figures within the organization. Head Coach Tom Renney, perhaps most of all, couldn’t help but compliment the youngster on his camp performances.
"He's a smart player. He's got good size, good range. He's got a nice wingspan to him, both in accepting passes and giving passes. I thought he was excellent."
Importance to the organization and extremely high praise from the head coach; it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Pitlick to begin feeling the pressure of a hockey-mad environment. But like everything else reflected in his modest attitude, he puts that aside and concentrates on the factors he can control.
"Yeah, I don’t worry about that stuff. You see the opportunities, but I just try to keep getting better to make sure that I’m ready when the time comes."
His signature work ethic and dedication to succeed, complemented by proper development, could mean that time will come sooner rather than later. Until then, the WHL's newest offensive sensation is enjoying the ride.
"It’s been a lot of fun – a dream."
Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com
2010-11 OILERS PROSPECT STATS
|19||24||3||1||4||-4||26||Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)|
|20||12||0||2||2||-1||0||Oklahoma city barons (AHL)|
|18||20||6||5||11||-2||24||kootenay ice (WHL)|
|29||20||6||12||18||-2||26||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||23||13||20||33||+26||6||saskatoon blades (whl)|
|20||20||7||3||10||-12||15||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|20||13||4||3||7||N/A||23||quinnipiac university (ecac)|
|21||19||1||4||5||-5||6||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||22||5||5||10||N/A||16||timra ik (sel)|
|23||12||1||3||4||E||6||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||25||17||23||40||+21||18||ottawa 67's (ohl)|
|31||20||7||10||17||+2||6||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||19||0||12||12||+9||23||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||20||12||11||23||+6||24||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|28||20||3||3||6||-4||21||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||23||2||4||6||E||10||edmonton oil kings|
|19||19||10||12||22||+4||17||medicine hat tigets (whl)|
|19||16||5||4||9||N/A||2||ilves tampere (fnl)|
|24||20||10||8||18||+9||4||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|24||15||1||1||2||+1||26||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||19||4||2||6||-6||12||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|25||17||2||13||15||-7||21||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|22||5||0||0||0||N/A||22||Stockton thunder (echl)|
|21||10||0||3||3||N/A||34||merrimack college (h-east)|
|18||2||0||1||1||N/A||2||acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)|
|23||20||0||7||7||+4||12||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|19||26||4||18||22||-8||26||regina pats (whl)|
|19||18||0||0||0||-8||28||chicago steel (ushl)|
|18||24||8||17||25||+4||33||prince george cougars (whl)|
|21||16||1||2||3||+1||16||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|28||15||0||4||4||+3||12||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|23||20||3||9||12||-9||10||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|21||19||1||4||5||E||47||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|18||12||8||5||1||0||2.71||.905||medicine hat tigers (whl)|
|36||13||9||4||0||0||2.56||.911||oklahoma city barons (ahl)|
|22||6||4||0||1||1||1.91||.922||stockton thunder (ECHL)|
|19||16||9||7||0||0||2.80||.913||acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)|