Name: Tyler Pitlick
Weight: 190 lbs.
09-10 team: Minnesota State University Mankato(WCHA)
09-10 stats: 38 games, 11 goals, 8 assists, 19 points
Earlier this year I was going through a bunch of old emails and came across one from 2006, right after the USA Select 15 Festival, where somebody asked me to make a list of the top Minnesotans from camp. Looking back four years later, I got a couple names at the top right, and there's a few kids never heard from again,and then in the middle of the pack is Tyler Pitlick. The person I emailed was a little surprised I didn't have Pitlick higher, and I said he didn't really do much to catch my attention in the games I saw. But almost literally every time I saw Pitlick play after that performance--I don't have an exact count, but probably over 50 times-- he seemed to improve a little bit, to the point that now, four years later, my assertion that he wasn't that impressive just looks silly.
Pitlick played his high school at Centennial High School in Minnesota. He was a top player on their varsity team for three seasons, racking up some impressive numbers. In his senior season, he was a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award.
This past season, he moved on to NCAA hockey at Minnesota State and played on the top powerplay unit all year, and by the end of the season, was one of the team's top forwards. Recently, debate has surfaced whether Pitlick will return to MSU, or sign on to play with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL.
Pitlick is excellent on the wing, where he can use his speed and size on the outside to drive to the net and use his heavy snap shot. He also possesses the ability to play center, and a year of college hockey has improved his defensive game tremendously. Despite being one of the youngest players in college hockey last year, he doesn't back down from anyone physically, and has the strength to dish out his own punishment. His offensive game still needs to mature, as evidenced by his low point totals, but given the adjustment he had to make to college hockey, it is understandable why his point totals were lower. For each one of his 11 goals last year, there were probably two or three great scoring chances he created that he wasn't able to finish off.
Strengths: Skating ability, Strength, Defensive Play
Needs to Improve: Release on shot/one-timing the puck, play-making ability, finishing quality chances
Links of Interest
Pitlick is Finishing Just Fine- Minneapolis Star-Tribune- December 2007
Q & A with Tyler Pitlick- This is the WCHA- August 2008
Pitlick of the Litter-The Hockey News- March 2009
2010 Prospects: Tyler Pitlick- Hockey's Future- February 2010
Pitlick Drawing Attention- Minnesota State website- February 2010
Pitlick Pondering Leaving MSU- Mankato Free Press-March 2010
March 26, 2010: Pitlick to WHL?
March 11, 2010: "I'm surprised I didn't pick Tyler Pitlick too. Nobody has more respect for him, or enjoyed watching him more this year than me, but if we're just judging on this year alone, and not what they're going to do in the future, I think these three had better years."
March 25, 2010: Top 50 NHL Prospects: "11. Tyler Pitlick-Forward-Minnesota State(2010 Draft Eligible)His stats don't jump out at you, which is understandable, given that he's a very young player, on a lousy team. But when you watch him play and see the talent and potential he has, it's understandable why he's likely to be a first round draft pick this summer. He's got NHL caliber skating and size, and shows flashes of offensive brilliance that could make him a top 6 forward at the NHL level."
January 11, 2010: "In my annual draft along with the pros, I was determined not to let Pitlick slip past the middle of the second round, and imagine that drawing screams of bias, but, uh, I guess not. Pitlick is a pretty safe pick, though I don't know that he has as much potential to be a big scorer as some other prospects. End of the first round might be a tad generous, but not much."
August 28, 2009: Best of the West #17: Tyler Pitlick
March 9, 2009: "Pitlick is the youngest Mr. Hockey candidate, and probably the most raw, but after Leddy, if you asked me who out of this group would be in the NHL ten years from now, I'd probably say him. One thing that may hurt him, however, is that he isn't eligible for the NHL Draft until 2010, which means he maybe wasn't watched as closely as the rest of this group."
July 17, 2008: "Tyler Pitlick(Minnesota State recruit)-Has all the physical tools; a great skater, good hands, good size. He just needs to put it all together to become a great player."
November 30, 2006:"It's always tough watching on TV, but I was able to kind of get a better idea at why people like Tyler Pitlick so much. He looked very good for just being a sophomore."
Pitlick has flown under most people's radars all year, but has consistently been ranked very high by more official scouting organizations such as NHL Central Scouting, or Bob McKenzie's poll of NHL scouts.
At this point, Pitlick is probably a solid bet to go somewhere in the 20's of the draft. The big question is whether or not a team believes his scoring ability will continue to improve. If a team is convinced that scoring touch will come around eventually, a top 15 pick isn't out of the question.
Regardless of where he gets picked, Pitlick is one of the more "NHL ready" prospects, having played all last year against players over the age of 20.Given his style of play, and the rapid improvement he's shown throughout his career, he may not be ready for the NHL next year, but the year after that probably isn't out of the question.