| |Tyler Pitlick joins the Oilers after registering 11 goals, 19 points, and 27 penalty minutes in 38 games with NCAA's Minnesota State.
LOS ANGELES – Acknowledging it as a personal goal, Tyler Pitlick could have sulked after coming so close, but yet so far from being drafted in the first round.
But as the first pick of the second day – and second round – of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center, his smile portrayed relief and ambition as he donned the Oilers royal blue, orange and white colours and met the media on Saturday morning at Staples Center, shortly after Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini kicked off the draft by announcing Pitlick’s selection at the draft table.
“It’s nice to get picked right away,” said Pitlick, a natural centre. “I was definitely hoping I went yesterday but I’m definitely happy that I’m going to Edmonton. It should be good.”
The name will be familiar to those across the hockey landscape. Pitlick’s uncle, Lance, was a Minneapolis native and weaved an eight-year career in the NHL by patrolling the blueline for the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers.
The Minnesota bloodlines run thick in the family. Tyler, who dwarfs Lance by two inches at 6-foot-2, played his freshman season at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he managed 19 points in 38 games as the youngest player on the program’s roster.
It was a far cry from the decorated senior season he had with Centennial High School in Minnesota, when he led the conference in scoring with 64 points in just 25 contests.
Yet, with the opportunity to play more games and get more minutes in with a schedule that mimics an NHL season, he is taking his game to the Western Hockey League this next season with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“I think it will help my offense build a little more,” said Pitlick. “I felt I didn’t show as much offense as I had in the past, last year. I think next year, being at Medicine Hat, I’ll have more help in showing a little more offense.
It won’t take long for Oilers fans and the Tiger faithful to reacquaint themselves with the Pitlick playing style.
“It helps,” said Tyler, who recounted on the experience of hanging around an uncle like Lance as a youngster. “He knows what it takes to get there. He knows all the things you’ve got do to. He wasn’t always the most skilled player, but he was a guy who had to work real hard and do the small things to get there, so he knows what it takes.”
After the Oilers made their monumental first overall pick on Friday with the skill and speed of phenom Taylor Hall, their direction in day two began with the Pitlick-signature size and grit, added by Tyler’s individually special scoring touch and heavy snap shot, to balance out a corps of young, high-flying Oilers offensive talent like Hall, Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle.
All three are first round selections by the Oilers, joined by a fourth player in Pitlick who came so painfully close to hitting the draft stage as a first rounder himself, in prime time television on Friday.
After heading back to the nearby hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Friday night, the moral support was in full force before the Saturday morning rounds began.
“I talked to my agent and he said ‘don’t worry about it’,” said Pitlick. “It’s not the end of the world. It’s not where you go its how you perform after the draft and the progress you make. I’m not too worried about it. I’m in a good spot and we’ll see how it goes.”
By nature and pedigree, Pitlick is handling it quite well.