In the last few seasons, when considering who the Stars could plunder from various organizations in need (like the Oilers), Tyler Pitlick never came up on the short list. The Oilers, now potentially pawning off one of their first round pick centers, have pawned off some pretty big name wingers in recent years. While Pitlick is obviously not on the same level as Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, they did let him walk in free agency, which turned out to be super lucky for the Stars.
Pitlick has a lot going for him. At 26 years old, Pitlick is an NHL journeyman, but one who had only spent a handful of games in the big club in Edmonton. Most of his time with the Oilers organization was spent with their affiliates, first the Oklahoma City Barons and then the Bakersfield Condors. And though this was only his first full season with an NHL club, he played with poise of a veteran and made the most of the opportunities afforded him this season. His line regularly drove possession and had high danger scoring chances without allowing as many on the other end.
What does that mean? Potentially, that the Oilers didn’t know what they had in Pitlick. Or that with all the first round picks filling up the roster, there just wasn’t room for a guy who went undrafted. It also means that there’s not a lot of data out there to compare this season to and little ability to talk about growth over time.
Still, there’s plenty to look at for this season, and it looks pretty good. This roster saw a lot of movement and juggling through the season, but Pitlick did spend over 500 minutes playing on the third line with Antoine Roussel and Radek Faksa. Individual grades will come later for Roussel and Faksa, but that line maintained positive possession over the season and had a positive expected goals for percentage at 53%.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of expected goals (or xG), it’s a model devised by Emmanuel Perry at corsica.hockey to account for a number of different factors that determine the likelihood of a goal in a particular situation. Factors include shot type, angle, and distance, along with whether or not the shot came on a rush, a rebound, or a power play.
So Pitlick’s line with Roussel and Faksa had a greater likelihood of scoring on the ice than being scored upon. Which is good news for a third line.
There’s also this year’s player card for Pitlick from Micah McCurdy at hockeyviz.com.
Of particular interest to me is the confirmation that Pitlick is a possession driver. The goals for jump when he’s on the ice vs being off the ice, and the heat map for shots for and against. His on ice shooting percentage is higher than league average. All this, while getting mostly defensive zone deployment. He also had time on the penalty kill, which is something he didn’t see in his 31 games in Edmonton last season.
Pitlick can battle for the puck, as we saw again and again throughout the season. Most recently, this goal of Radek Faksa’s against the Ducks, where most of the effort was Pitlick’s:
In a sad season that resulted in yet another miss at the postseason, Tyler Pitlick was a bright point and hopefully, a sign that there’s points to be found in the bottom six. And, the Stars still have him for another two years.
What did you think of his season?
What grade would you give Tyler Pitlick’s season?
This poll is closed
A - because you have reasonable expectations
B - because he’s still a bottom six that didn’t score as much as he could have
C - because you aren’t swayed by graphs
D - because they still missed the playoffs so who cares
F - because you hate fun and have unreasonable expectations