When Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher traded for forward Tyler Pitlick, he was bringing in a tough, rugged, bottom-six forward who could also contribute point-wise every so often. Rugged toughness is something that has been in the DNA of the Flyers for pretty much their entire existence. They weren’t called the Broad Street Bullies for nothing, after all.
The acquisition of Pitlick was a nice depth addition, and he has found ways throughout the 2019-20 season to help the Flyers’ organization out. Here is some background for those who might not know the history of Pitlick’s journey to the NHL.
Collegiate and Junior History
Pitlick came from an extended family that loved the game of hockey and had some recognition as a result. His uncle Lance Pitlick was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars back in 1986, but never played for the organization. Instead, he played over 300 professional games between the Ottawa Senators and the Florida Panthers. Tyler’s cousin Rem Pitlick was also drafted into the NHL. He was selected in the 2016 Draft by the Nashville Predators. Rem currently suits up for the Predators’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals.
Tyler’s journey to the league was one that involved playing in a couple different leagues. He started off by going to Minnesota State during the 2009-10 hockey season. He played in 38 games for the program, notching 11 goals and 8 assists. During this time, he caught the eyes of NHL scouts around the league and was closely watched as a potential draft pick in the 2010 Draft.
That impressive campaign for the Minnesota State Mavericks led to Pitlick getting selected by the Edmonton Oilers. All of the hard work and dedication he went through over the years paid off, but it was just the beginning of the grind for the young man.
After just one season with the Mavericks, Pitlick went to the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he competed for the Medicine Hat Tigers. Like in Minnesota, he only played for the Tigers for one season. He racked up 27 goals and 35 assists for 62 points in 56 games. The Oilers felt after the 2010-11 WHL campaign he had, it was time for the next steps of his hockey growth to take place within the organization. Edmonton signed Pitlick and he was sent down to their AHL affiliate at-the-time, the Oklahoma City Barons.
Prior Pro Experience
During his third season with the Barons, Pitlick was recalled and made his NHL debut with the Oilers during the 2013-14 season. He played in a total of 10 games and was fortunate enough to score his first goal in the league, coming against the previously called Phoenix Coyotes. Most of his career with the Oilers was spent up and down between the NHL and AHL.
Once the 2016-17 season was over in Edmonton, Pitlick found himself as a free agent, and took this opportunity to try and make an impact for another team. He was claimed off the free agency board right away, staying in the Western Conference and inking a contract with the Dallas Stars. Pitlick left Edmonton having produced the following numbers:
- 2013-14: 1 goal in 10 games
- 2014-15: 2 goals in 17 games
- 2016-17: 8 goals and 3 assists in 31 games
Pitlick cemented himself as a regular right off the bat in his first season in Dallas. He tallied a career-high 14 goals and 13 assists for a total of 27 points in 80 games. That was the most amount of games he had ever played as well. He provided a solid secondary-scoring role that complemented the rest of the Stars, including Tyler Seguin (who hit 40 goals that season), Jamie Benn (36 goals and 43 assists for 79 points), and newcomer Alex Radulov (27 goals and 45 assists for 72 points in 82 games).
Unfortunately for Pitlick and the team, though, they did not clinch a playoff spot that year, but it was a promising sign of the type of impact Pitlick could have for a team.
His Potential in Philly
The 2017-18 season with the Stars remains the best statistical season for Pitlick to this day (for now). The 2018-19 season saw a drop from the then-27-year-old, tallying just 8 goals and 4 assists in 47 games. He was out for half of the season though, so it is hard to say he could not have reached the same plateau or higher had he played more games.
Stars general manager Jim Nill decided anyway that it was in the best interest to move the winger, trading him to the Flyers during this last offseason in exchange for Ryan Hartman (a player who would later sign with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent that same summer).
I still think Pitlick can hit his potential. The late-20s are when a player can start to hit the prime of their careers. Yes, Pitlick was surrounded by a very talented team in the 2017-18 Stars, and I am not saying that wasn’t a boost to his production in a way, but I still think he can step up in the goal and point department on his own. He is not going to put the puck away the same as guys like Claude Giroux or Travis Konecny (Pitlick currently has four goals and seven assists in 42 games), but I still think he can hit similar totals to what he did on that Stars team a couple years ago.
He brings other aspects to the table as well and helps make the Flyers a tougher team to play against. Goal scorers obviously grab so much attention, but it should not go unnoticed what guys like Pitlick can do by being a rough-and-tough guy, helping wear down the energy of opposing players. He brings a lot to the Flyers, and even without the stats to show it, he is contributing and helping make the team a hard one to beat.