The 2016/17 Edmonton Oilers were perhaps the most exciting team the Alberta capital has witnessed since they last raised their 5th and final cup in 1990.
Led by their superstar captain, Connor McDavid, and his literal right-hand man, Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers shocked the hockey world by finishing ahead of teams like San Jose and LA. They even took it a step further by beating the Sharks without their big guns firing on all cylinders.
Depth scoring was the story of the Oiler’s first round series win against the San Jose Sharks. Players like Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, David Desharnais, and Anton Slepyshev were outshining the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Milan Lucic. Instead of talking about the surprisingly quiet start that McDavid was having, Oil Country couldn’t stop talking about Zack Kassian’s determined effort to break every Shark in sight.
That was the magic of this year’s playoff run in Edmonton. 3rd and 4th liners became household names, while the spotlight was shifted off the team’s superstars….and, well, one other player as well…
Enter Tyler Pitlick
With the commotion of the playoffs finally subsiding in the City of Champions, Oiler fans are looking toward the summer, and who the team might bring in to help replicate another run next May.
While many people have shifted their focus to the free-agent market and potential trade targets, not many have given Tyler Pitlick a second thought. While Kassian and Desharnais were playing the roles of unlikely hero, Pitlick was in the press-box nursing yet another season-ending injury.
Life as a professional hockey player has not been kind to Mr. Pitlick, having built up a rather impressive resume of untimely injuries, but there was something different about November’s left knee ACL tear. Prior to the injury, Pitlick was becoming a mainstay with the Edmonton Oiler, one they could trust in a depth role. When it was announced that he would miss the remainder of the 2016/17 season there was a collective groan from the Oilers faithful. The 25-year-old was defying all the odds against him, determined to not let injuries destroy his dream, and just when it looks like lady luck is on his side, the worst possible thing happened.
Since the injury occurred, much has happened for the Oilers, and Pitlick’s health faded into the background quick. So much so that I couldn’t help but label him as the forgotten Oiler.
So…what’s your point?
My point is that while we are looking at what the team’s next few moves should be, we should be aware that Tyler Pitlick is due for another contract.
His 1-year 2-way deal signed in June of 2016 is now up to be renewed and the Oilers should have a relatively easy decision here. The potential that Pitlick has to be a reliable bottom 6 winger is still relatively high, and the leverage lies with Edmonton. With an injury history the size of Pitlick’s, not a lot of teams will be lining up to add him to their organization. He is also not in a position to hold out for much of a raise.
Last season he made a measly 925k and because the injury throws more question marks into his ability to play at a high level, the Oilers could easily negotiate another 1-year deal around the same price.
The team is incredibly thin on the right-wing and, if they decide to trade Eberle, it is going to be a massive area for improvement heading into the 2017/18 season. Pitlick, although a risk, would add some organizational depth and give the kid one last chance at proving his worth at the NHL level.
Instead of throwing money at an aging guy like Vrbata or Eaves, let’s give the Minnesota kid one last shot at his dream.
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What would you do with Tyler Pitlick? Let me know in the comments!