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Future Watch: Tyler Pitlick

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Tyler Pitlick skates at the Oilers development camp that took place this past July.

In only five short months, Tyler Pitlick’s dream of playing in the NHL has surged into overdrive; a whirlwind period of time in which the Centerville, Minnesota native has experienced the professional workload on the fly. Without much instruction or time to prepare, the talented forward is taking it all in stride.

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.
"I don't want to say any numbers or anything,” said a modest Pitlick with a smile. “But I want to be up there in the points. I want to score some goals and do all that fun stuff, but I just want to have a good year and do all the things that I need to do to be successful in the long run."

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.
And he didn’t stop there. His strong tournament carried over to main camp before he appeared in one pre-season game that left fans wanting more.

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 |


Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Cameron Abney   19 24 3 1 4 -4 26 Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Alexander Bumagin   23 14 2 2 4 N/A 4 Novokuznetsk (KHL)
Philippe Cornet   20 12 0 2 2 -1 0 Oklahoma city barons (AHL)
Drew Czerwonka   18 20 6 5 11 -2 24 kootenay ice (WHL)
Alexandre Giroux   29 20 6 12 18 -2 26 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Curtis Hamilton   19 23 13 20 33 +26 6 saskatoon blades (whl)
Teemu Hartikainen   20 20 7 3 10 -12 15 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kellen Jones   20 13 4 3 7 N/A 23 quinnipiac university (ecac)
Milan Kytnar   21 19 1 4 5 -5 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Anton Lander   19 22 5 5 10 N/A 16 timra ik (sel)
Matt Marquardt   23 12 1 3 4 E 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan Martindale   18 25 17 23 40 +21 18 ottawa 67's (ohl)
Brad Moran   31 20 7 10 17 +2 6 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ryan O'Marra   23 19 0 12 12 +9 23 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Linus Omark   23 20 12 11 23 +6 24 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Ben Ondrus   28 20 3 3 6 -4 21 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Kristians Pelss   18 23 2 4 6 E 10 edmonton oil kings
Tyler Pitlick   19 19 10 12 22 +4 17 medicine hat tigets (whl)
Toni Rajala   19 16 5 4 9 N/A 2 ilves tampere (fnl)
Liam Reddox   24 20 10 8 18 +9 4 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Gregory Stewart   24 15 1 1 2 +1 26 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Chris Vande Velde   23 19 4 2 6 -6 12 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP G A PTS +/- PIM Team
Shawn Belle 
25 17 2 13 15 -7 21 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jordan Bendfeld   22 5 0 0 0 N/A 22 Stockton thunder (echl)
Kyle Bigos   21 10 0 3 3 N/A 34 merrimack college (h-east)
Jeremie Blain   18 2 0 1 1 N/A 2 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
Taylor Chorney   23 20 0 7 7 +4 12 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Brandon Davidson   19 26 4 18 22 -8 26 regina pats (whl)
Troy Hesketh   19 18 0 0 0 -8 28 chicago steel (ushl)
Martin Marincin   18 24 8 17 25 +4 33 prince george cougars (whl)
Johan Motin   21 16 1 2 3 +1 16 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Richard Petiot   28 15 0 4 4 +3 12 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Jeff Petry   23 20 3 9 12 -9 10 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Alex Plante   21 19 1 4 5 E 47 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Name Age GP W L T SO GAA PCT Team
Tyler Bunz   18 12 8 5 1 0 2.71 .905 medicine hat tigers (whl)
Martin Gerber *
36 13 9 4 0 0 2.56 .911 oklahoma city barons (ahl)
Bryan Pitton   22 6 4 0 1 1 1.91 .922 stockton thunder (ECHL)
Olivier Roy   19 16 9 7 0 0 2.80 .913 acadie-bathurst titan (qmjhl)
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