Rem Pitlick seems destined to be selected in this year's NHL Draft in his second year of eligibility after a dramatic turnaround in his second year of junior hockey. In his first year of draft eligibility, Pitlick sputtered to just 16 points in 47 games with the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL. But a trade to Muskegon and a change of scenery sparked Pitlick, and in his second year, he dominated the league, with a league-leading 46 goals and 89 points, and being named named the league's top player.
Player: Rem Pitlick
Team: Muskegon Lumberjacks(USHL)
Position: Center/Left Wing
Height: 5'9" Weight: 196 lbs.
Stats: 56 games, 46 goals, 43 assists, 89 points, +6
Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 93rd among North American skaters
What I Like:
Pitlick loves to play the game and is a tremendous worker. He's never been the most physically gifted athlete, but he definitely gets the most out of what he has. He doesn't back down if he takes a big hit. He plays really hard and has the passion to do what it takes to be successful.
Pitlick's 46 goals and 89 points in the USHL is an impressive number. He was the best player in a very good junior league. Dominating the USHL hasn't always been a solid predictor of NHL success, save players that have done it at an extremely young age, but it's still a noteworthy accomplishment.
What I Don't Like:
-Lack of Size
Pitlick had to undergo a pretty big growth spurt over the past two years just to get to undersized. At his size, he has to work twice as hard just to keep up with bigger, stronger players.
-High Shooting Percentage
Pitlick's 46 goals came on 173 shots on goal, meaning he scored on 26.6% of his shots. That's a really high number, and likely something that isn't sustainable over the long-term. It's something worth taking into account in regards to his statistics this year.
-Close to Ceiling
Pitlick is the son of former NHLer Lance Pitlick and grew up demoing his dad's line of hockey training equipment, so he's never hurt for high-level training opportunities. As a result, he might already be closer to his maximum potential than some other prospects in this Draft.
Pitlick slowly rose up NHL Central Scouting's list until hitting 93rd in the final rankings, which translates to a late-fourth round pick. I'm not quite as convinced, placing him more in the sixth round range on my list. Split the difference and the fifth round is likely the safest bet for where Pitlick will be picked.
Pitlick will likely have to play a scoring role to stick at the NHL level, though it's questionable if he has top-six pro upside. The good news is that an NHL team that drafts him can afford to be patient with him. Pitlick has expressed an interest in returning to Muskegon to play another year of junior hockey before enrolling at the University of Minnesota. They'll be able to see how Pitlick develops and if he can keep up the scoring prowess he showed this year before deciding if they want to sign him.