NHL 2010 Top Draft Prospects: Tyler Pitlick

Tyler Pitlick is one of the youngest players in college hockey. Having committed to Minnesota State and having a fairly successful freshman year, Pitlick has been ranked eighteenth in Central Scouting’s final rankings for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Many felt that if Pitlick had been eligible for last year’s draft, an NHL team would have drafted him in the first two or three rounds. Many also believed he would have been a more serious contender for the Mr. Hockey award. Nonetheless, he’ll be watched very closely this year and could be Minnesota State’s highest draft pick since David Backes (62nd overall in 2003).

Pitlick can do a little bit of everything. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, he has good size, but also skates well. He can score goals, make nice passes, can win faceoffs and has shown the drive and work ethic to improve his game.

The nephew of former NHL defenseman Lance Pitlick, Tyler had 31 goals and 64 points in 25 games at Centennial High School and a was finalist for the state’s Mr. Hockey Award before committing to Minnesota State.

In his freshman season in the West Coast Hockey League in the NCAA, Pitlick put up 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 38 games – a respectable number, though not anything to write home about.

However, due to playing high school hockey, one has to expect that Pitlick will take some time to adjust to the higher level of play. As he gets older, he will also be receiving more ice time and will have more opportunities to pad his statistics.

The Centerville, Minnesota native was put on the wing by his coach, Troy Jutting.

“There are two reasons why we have Tyler playing wing,” Jutting said to NHL.com. “One is that he’s a goal scorer and I think he has more opportunities to score more goals as a winger, and two is that we place a lot of defensive responsibilities on our centers. For Tyler as an 18-year-old trying to defend against 24-year-olds, there is an adjustment period. He may move back to the middle this year, but he’ll definitely play at center next year.”

Pitlick has shown that he has great speed and fluid strides in his skating. He makes good turns, while his puck skills are good enough that he can make excellent plays while weaving through defenders.

“Obviously there are a lot of skilled players out there,” Jutting continued, “But I think the things that separate players like Tyler from others are their understanding of the game and their ability to read the game. Tyler understands the game extremely well and he is able to read the game faster than most other players. I think that allows him the opportunities to put himself in positions to be successful.”

“I enjoy playing for Coach Jutting,” Pitlick said in an interview with NHL.com. “He’s a very good coach. He and the other coaches work with me on things like my defensive game during practice. They make sure that I get the most out of my practices every day. They’ve also worked with me individually to help me adjust to the college game. I had to learn how to move the puck faster. The guys here are a lot faster and bigger. You have to be able to handle yourself in the corners. I think the guys are a lot tougher and you have to be able to stay with them. So they have helped me with all of that.”

Alan Bass is a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com. In addition to writing for Inside Hockey and Pro Hockey News, he has also worked for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College hockey team as well. You can contact him at BergHockey24@gmail.com.

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