What Tyler Pitlick will bring to the Rangers’ bottom-six

Thirteen years ago, the Edmonton Oilers drafted Tyler Pitlick with the 32nd pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Although it took three seasons for him to play in the league, he struggled for the better half of the decade to become a regular. 

During those years, Pitlick played a good chuck of games in the AHL with the Oklahoma City Barons and Bakersfield Condors, trying to establish himself as a professional hockey player. Although things didn’t work in Edmonton after three seasons, he moved to the Dallas Stars and had his most productive campaign.¬†

As a bottom-six forward with a high draft profile, Pitlick has bounced around trying to find a home to play more than 60 games. 

Examining Pitlick’s role in the 2023-24 Rangers lineup

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at St. Louis Blues
Apr 4, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues center Tyler Pitlick (9) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports

According to Dailyfaceoff.com, Pitlick will skate on the fourth line with Nick Bonino and Barclay Goodrow after signing a one-year deal at the NHL level. He could also find himself battling for a spot against another low-cost UFA signing in Alex Belzile.

If new head coach Peter Laviolette wishes to alter the lineup, Pitlick could watch from the press box. For example, while skating with the St. Louis Blues last year, he only played 61 games, collecting 16 points. Even though he suffered an upper-body injury in late March and was out of action for a week, that’s not why he missed 21 games out of the season. 

Considering the Blues did not qualify for the playoffs, the team traded away a few star players like Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. Realistically, there would have been opportunities for Pitlick to get some extra ice time. However, that didn’t happen since he played less than the season average (10:05) in the season’s final two games. 

As Pitlick prepares to play under a new head coach, he can make an impression in training camp and earn those extra minutes. Statistically, he’s reached double digits in points in six of the past seven seasons, meaning he’ll be a solid addition to a team who keeps cycling through their bottom six forwards. 

Pitlick’s presence in the lineup should bring stability at a bargain price

At 31 years old, Pitlick’s best seasons may be behind him; however, he’s adapted to his role in the league and contributes when he can. Even though he hasn’t scored double digits goals in five seasons, the Rangers will need him to chip in with a single tally now and then. Considering their depth in the top three lines, he won’t have any pressure to rack up the points. 

However, with a handful of young prospects chomping to make an impression in the NHL such as Will Cuylle, Pitlick will need to look over his shoulder. Although every team in the league rolls with four lines, no roster space is safe, especially if the player skates in the bottom six. Ultimately, on a league minimum salary, anything Pitlick can bring to the Rangers on and off the ice will be appreciated by the coaching staff, players, and fans.