Tyler Pitlick proving valuable as Rangers extra forward

NHL: New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
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In the dynamic and fast-paced league that is the NHL, the value of a versatile and reliable player cannot be overstated. Tyler Pitlick, the New York Rangers‘ “13th forward,” embodies these qualities, proving to be an indispensable asset to the team’s lineup.

Pitlick was among the many handful of low-cost signings Chris Drury was able to pull off due to cap constraints. A one-year deal with an AAV of only $787,500 has already paid off nicely for the third-year GM.

Initially sidelined for the early part of the season, Pitlick’s journey from the bench to becoming a fixture on the Rangers’ fourth line is a testament to his resilience and skill.

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Tyler Pitlick a valuable addition

NHL: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Pitlick’s season began with uncertainty, as he found himself out of the regular lineup. However, the Rangers got hit with the injury bug early on, creating an opportunity for the 32-year-old journeyman. Pitlick’s determination and work ethic saw him gradually earn a spot on the fourth line alongside Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow. This line combination has since proven effective for the Rangers, offering a blend of defensive solidity and offensive capability.

“Consistency helps,” Pitlick said when discussing how his line has played. “Just the consistency with the same guys and you kind of get a feel for it and build on it each night.”

While primarily known for his defensive prowess, Pitlick has also made notable contributions to the Rangers’ offense. With three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and a +1 rating through 16 games, he has demonstrated his ability to impact the game at both ends of the ice. This dual-threat capability makes him a valuable player in high-stakes situations, especially during close games where defensive reliability is as crucial as offensive creativity.

The Challenge Ahead: Balancing the Lineup

The imminent return of Filip Chytil from injury poses a strategic challenge for head coach Peter Laviolette. Chytil’s offensive talents are undeniable, but incorporating him back into the lineup will require careful consideration, particularly with Pitlick’s recent performances and the chemistry he has built with his linemates.

Laviolette must weigh the benefits of Pitlick’s defensive reliability and newfound offensive contributions against other potential scratch candidates, such as newly called up forward, Jonny Brodzinski, who is now providing offense in a top-six role with Kaapo Kakko on LTIR.

While the return of Chytil will undoubtedly enhance the Rangers’ offensive firepower, Pitlick’s all-around game makes a compelling case for his retention in the lineup. That’s why the decision to scratch him may be a tough one once everyone is back and healthy.

Pitlick’s blend of defensive responsibility and opportunistic offense provides the Rangers with a balanced and versatile weapon, essential for their aspirations in a highly competitive league. As the season progresses, his role in the team’s success will be crucial in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

Regardless, if he holds a steady place on the fourth line or not, Pitlick has already proven his value as the extra forward for this season.