The trade season is starting to sizzle just a bit, but for our beloved Edmonton Oilers, the red phone in Craig MacTavish’s office has been relatively quiet. This is problematic, and certainly makes even the most optimistic of Oilers fans turn red with skeptical anger. Nonetheless, there is time to wheel and deal, so we will hope for the best, and not encourage the worst.
While the Oilers toil away in the remainder of their 20+ games, the Oklahoma City Barons round out a solid weekend with three straight victories thus inching themselves closer to a playoff spot in the AHL. It seemed desperate at best that OKC would be pushing for a playoff spot in March, but here we are, and the team is red hot.
One such player that is really challenging the odds is Tyler Pitlick.
Pitlick, the winger with some oomph, speed, and occasional scoring touch, is having a pretty solid back half to his season. Plagued by injuries in the past, he damaged his left knee in late October while playing with the Oilers. He was deposited into the minors once he was deemed healthy for play. He then was given the “upper body injury” tag around early February, and is again heading back into the farm lineup. The good news? He’s back to his old tricks doing the things that he does well – strong board play, good hands, quick, and mostly smart. Pitlick has separated himself from the group of forwards on the farm in areas that seem highly important to the Edmonton Oilers.
Eighteen points in 31 games played on the farm in 2013-14, Pitlick has been relatively important for the Barons, and that’s worth noting. Most recently playing the right wing, and centered by Anton Lander, you can find him carefully passing the puck up ice, striking defenders off the puck, and being headstrong away from the play. I really like Tyler Pitlick, probably as much as Craig MacTavish.
I’d position Pitlick, like Anton Lander, on a fourth line with Edmonton. That’s a fourth line that rarely makes mistakes, is willing to crunch down on solid opponents, and is fully capable of scoring. What’s not to love about that?
If you consider Pitlick worthy within your organization, you must take the good with the bad. The Oilers have a decision to make. Is he worth keeping because he gives us some things we need? Or perhaps more importantly, is he worth keeping despite his injury history? Realistic questions both for the Oilers, and those whom might consider bringing him on board.
If I were the GM of the Oilers I’d bring him into the NHL lineup sooner rather than later. You aren’t getting much in return with Pitlick in a trade, but he might be an asset that sweetens the deal (something I also said about Anton Lander).
There’s no mistaking the fact that Pitlick has been good for the Barons. Losing him could potentially cost the team, but that’s okay. Guys like Lander and Arcobello might be deeper wounds if absent. Time will tell.