by Lisa Brown on 10/21/13 at 10:55 PM ET
Drafted as a centreman, now playing the wing, 21 year old Tyler Pitlick will make his NHL debut Tuesday night in Montreal as the Canadiens host the Edmonton Oilers. Pitlick has had some unfortunate injuries, and has not had career numbers during his time in the AHL, but due to even more unfortunate Oiler injuries to Ryan Smyth and Taylor Hall, Pitlick has been called up.
At 21 years old, Pitlick should still have his best years ahead of him, and every player follows their own development curve. With knee injuries and concussions slowing him down, Pitlick has been pushed down many roster lists posted by fans, bloggers and analysts, but sometimes extenuating circumstances should be considered.
With 7 games played with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL this season, Pitlick has 1 goal and 2 assists. No, he is not being called up to replace the scoring that Taylor Hall would otherwise provide, but this is Pitlick’s golden opportunity to show the Oilers organization that he can be that big bodied power forward that they need now, and in the future.
Pitlick’s development situation is only made more precarious next season with the addition of other players such as Mitch Moroz and Kale Kessey to the Oilers’ AHL roster. Daniil Zharkov’s development however, shouldn’t be seen as much of a threat to Pitlick’s position.
The transition from winger to centre and back may be one of Pitlick’s best attributes to the bruised and battered Oilers team. And at this point in time, Pitlick is far more concerned about earning his chance to play for the team rather than the actual position. From one of my previous Pitlick articles:
In all of my previous discussions with Pitlick, he always told me that he didn’t care what position he plays, he just wants to be playing. And so, Pitlick could only smile when I had to ask him, once again whether or not he has a preference. “I just want to be in the lineup and I kind of like playing the wing.” He said with a laugh.
“I get to overload and use my speed to skate in to chip pucks and I get to be first in on the forecheck a lot more but I would like to be able to play some centre and be able to help in the defensive zone and help move the puck up. But, I don’t mind playing on the wing. I like it a little bit actually, but we’ll have to see what happens.”
Given the Oilers’ current state, this should be a relatively safe time for Pitlick to play, make mistakes and learn from them. When the entire team has been struggling, it’s been difficult to lay blame one just one player; there is more than enough blame to go around. So long as Pitlick can adjust to Dallas Eakin’s new Oiler system, or at least adjust as well as the rest of the team has been, Pitlick should see success.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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