On June 24, the Flyers acquired right winger Tyler Pitlick from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Ryan Hartman. While the move was at least partially driven by the salary cap, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher also felt the 27-year-old Minnesota native could bring some versatility to the lineup as a role player in the lineup. The 6-foot-2, 200 pound veteran forward has primarily played on the wing in recent years but can also step in the middle and play center.
"He's played third line, he's played fourth line. He brings good size, he's a good skater. Pretty consistent north-south, physical game. Brings a lot of energy. Shoots the puck pretty well and he can certainly score a goal, but his bread-and-butter is that puck-pressure, forechecking type of game. The size and the speed fits well with what we want to try to create in terms of our bottom six," Fletcher said.
Originally drafted by Edmonton with the 31st overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, Pitlick is not as naturally talented offensively as Hartman but has been a bit more consistent.
When former Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock gave Pitlick an opportunity to move up from the fourth line during a portion of the 2017-18 season, the player responded. He finished with a career-best 14 goals and 27 points. This past season, playing under Jim Montgomery, Pitlick was set back by a wrist injury that required surgery and was limited to 47 games (eight goals, 12 assists).
Shortly after Pitlick went down on Jan. 17 as a result of a hit by LA Kings forward Dustin Brown, Montgomery said that the player's absence was felt in the lineup.
"It's a tough blow," Montgomery told the Dallas Morning News on Jan 31. "Pitlick is a relentless-type player because of his speed, his tenaciousness off pucks. It hurts our overall team speed and playing to our team identity, which he's strong at."
Pitlick returned to the Stars lineup on March 30. He scored a pair of goals over the final four games of the regular season, including a tally against the Flyers on April 2. He dressed in six playoff games and did not record a point. Entering the offseason, Pitlick expected to be back with Dallas next season. The trade to the Flyers caught him off guard.
"I was obviously shocked, initially. But I am excited for the opportunity and looking forward to playing for the Flyers. They have a lot of good players in the organization and I'm looking forward to it," Pitlick said on June 24. "I spoke to Chuck briefly on why he likes my style of play but nothing too deep."
During the early part of his career, Pitlick appeared to be an up-and-coming player with Edmonton in the early part of the 2016-17 season. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL on Dec. 19, 2016, and missed the rest of the season.
After signing with Dallas in the summer of 2017, he regained full strength and saw his role expand to where he also saw some penalty killing duties on top of 5-on-5 play. He moved up from the fourth line to the third, frequently playing on a line with Radek Faksa.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity in Dallas. I think that I've grown as a player," Pitlick said shortly prior to the start of the 2018-19 season.
Come next season in Philadelphia, Pitlick should at least be a fourth-line regular under new head coach Alain Vigneault. He could also compete for the third-line right winger role out of training camp. If he plays on the third line, Nolan Patrick will be his center. Wherever he plays in the lineup, Pitlick said that it will not affect his style of play.
"I'm a physical, north skating player. I can score and make plays when I get the chance. But I'm going to be physical and I'm going to create energy and compete as hard as I can," Pitlick said.
Pitlick comes from a hockey family. His uncle, Lance Pitlick, is a former NHL defenseman for the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers. Although Lance never played a regular season game for the Flyers, he started his pro career in the Flyers' organization, and played in the AHL for the Flyers then-affliate Hershey, before moving on.
Tyler's cousin, Rem Pitlick, made his NHL debut for the Nashville Predators this past season, while Rem's brother, Rhett, was selected by Montreal in the 2019 NHL Draft.