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Former Blade, Tyler Pitlick, is called up to the NHL.

By Edmonton Journal, 10/22/13, 10:30PM CDT


Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish banking on Luke Gazdic and Tyler Pitlick in restructuring of fourth line

MONTREAL — From a business perspective, Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish didn’t have to mull over the offer for all that long.

If he moved Mike Brown to the San Jose Sharks, a team in need of some punch, he would free up a contract so he’d have some room to add a player down the road. Luke Gazdic had already convinced the Oilers he could play the same role as Brown, and it could open up a longer term stay for Tyler Pitlick.

The downside was that he knew when he sent Brown to the Sharks late Monday night for a fourth round draft pick, he knew he was moving a player who never wavered from his physical style of game.

“It gives us a little bit more flexibility with what we can do on that line,” said MacTavish. “We’ve seen enough of Luke Gazdic, that we know he can come in and do that job, and moving Brownie just gives us the flexibility to call up a Tyler Pitlick and maybe, potentially, add another element on that line.

“We were getting tight with the contracts too so that allowed us to 48 (two shy of the league maximum).

“From a peronsal perspective, it’s hard to do because he’s such a helluva guy. It’s a good lesson for everybocy, if you come to the rink and work hard with that leel of consistency, the word gets out. They knew exactly what they were getting.”

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson had called MacTavish a few days ago to ask about Brown. The Oilers, also contending with the loss of Taylor Hall (knee), Ryan Smyth (groin) and Jesse Joensuu (back), called up Tyler Pitlick and Ben Eager from the Oklahoma City Barons before their game against the Montreal Canadiens.

“I’m hoping Tyler can pick up where he left off. I had a lot of time for him in training camp,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “I’d seen him play a little bit in Oklahoma City when I was coaching the Marlies and he was really moving his feet, being physical and getting pucks to the net. And that’s what we need. It’s a simple recipe.”

The game against the Canadiens was Pitlick’s first in the NHL and if he can find that consistency that he’s finally started to demonstrate in the AHL, he’s got a chance to lock down the right wing spot on the fourth line.

“I’m just going to play my game. I’m just going to hit, because they need someone to hit, get in on the forecheck, and use my speed,” he said. “It’s up to me. I just have to go out there and do it.”

“He’s kind of what we need,” said MacTavish. “We need a little bit more power, a little bit more speed. We have to get to the forecheck better and quicker, and Pitlick has a little more dimension to his game than maybe Brownie.

“He was ready for an opportunity. We liked what we saw of him at training camp. The need is greater now with all the injuries we have currently but down the road, when we get healthy, there’s a possibility he could start on the fourth line on that right side.”

Eager, meanwhile, arrived for training camp, fit and determined to make his way back onto the NHL roster after closing out last season with the Barons. He wasn’t on the opening day roster and by Game 2 he was with the Barons again.

“I’m here, I’m ready to work and do whatever I can to help contribute. Obviously I want to get re-established in the NHL.

“All I can do is work hard and try and give them what they’re looking for.”

Gazdic, who had been in the Dallas Stars system, was claimed off waivers just before the season opened. He was disappointed to see Brown go, given he helped ease him into the NHL, but knows this extends his stay.

“Given his skill set and his age and the willingness to do the tough stuff, he really give us a lot of confidence going forward, that we have found the right guy for that position,” said MacTavish, who acquired Gazdic after Steve MacIntyre, another pre-season waiver pickup, had left the lineup with a knee injury in the pre-season.

“I loved playing with Brownie,” said Gazdic. “He was important for me in the games. He helped me calm down at the start. It was tough losing him. But i can’t be too comfortable. I’m still treating this as a tryout. I know I’m trying to play it like any game could be the last one. That’s the mindset I have to have.

“They told me they were going to give me an opportunity and that’s all I was looking for. I was just trying to take advantage of it.”