21 year-old forward Tyler Pitlick will just not go away. That's a good thing.
Pitlick, drafted 31st overall in 2010, is now in the final year of his entry-level contract and is battling to show the Oilers that he belongs in the NHL and with the club.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins has been ready, waiting with his fingers on the button, to send Pitlick down to the American Hockey League but perhaps that's a bit premature.
The Oilers forward has done nothing but earn more playtime in the pre-season for Edmonton with physical play, scoring opportunities and success on the ice.
"I keep trying to send him down and he keeps playing like that," said Eakins. "Every time I turned around he was running into somebody. I don't know how many hits they credited him for but I think he had probably ten."
Pitlick had six recorded hits on the stat sheet but he also chipped in an assist, two shots and a blocked shot for the Oilers.
"I felt good," said Pitlick. "I had lots of hits and was skating well. I had a few shots and a couple of opportunities where I thought I almost scored… I felt really comfortable out there tonight."
He has been trying to settle down all training camp and now, with a couple of games under his belt, he is finally comfortable with the NHL pre-season game speed.
"I think the nerves have been with me a little bit throughout camp but tonight… I just had to go out there and play because there could be no tomorrow. I could get sent down, but I had a good game."
Pitlick isn't going anywhere yet.
"I grabbed him after the second period and asked him if he wanted to play in the NHL because if he keeps playing like that, it won't be too long until he is," said Eakins. "He needs to keep the fire lit and he bought himself another game tomorrow."
Development from Pitlick is nothing but good news for the Oilers as they continue to look to solidify their depth at every position.