It’s time for our annual countdown of the best 25 Nashville Predators players under 25 years old!
This is not only a tradition here at OTF, but is also something that you might see at many other SBNation NHL blogs. The premise is simple: rank the 25 best players who have not yet reached their 25th birthday (as of August 1st, 2018).
Rem Pitlick kicks things off to start the week.
Pitlick is one of several collegiate players in the organization. Although the focus of many fans has been on Boston University due to the attraction of Dante Fabbro, players like Pitlick have quietly been putting up good seasons in the Midwest.
Going into his junior season, Pitlick has a total of 26 goals and 63 points in 74 NCAA games and will once again be counted on as a leader for the Golden Gophers this year with fellow prospect Tom Novak.
Fun fact: the pick that the Predators used to select Pitlick originally belonged to Minnesota. It was sent to Florida for Sean Bergenheim, then New Jersey for Jaromir Jagr, then Anaheim for Kyle Palmieri, and then Buffalo for Jamie McGinn, and, finally, to Nashville for Jimmy Vesey.
By The Numbers
I’m doing my best in these sections to include some helpful data visualization for players. I think easy-access visualization will be key for statistics maturing among fans of the sport moving forward. Unfortunately, this can be a tall order in many levels of the sport (like the NCAA). So, that said, bear with me, please!
Pitlick came from an impressive junior pedigree. He is one of five players to score 40+ goals in a season in the USHL since 2002 which he did in 2015-16 for the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Pitlick has posted two very good NCAA seasons - he led the Golden Gophers in scoring last season - and actually matched top-5 pick Brad Tkachuk’s point total last season.
The collegiate level is, at times, hard to translate to the NHL. Rob Vollman’s latest NHL translation factors gives Big10 Hockey a 0.333 translation factor. This would project Pitlick around 0.27 points-per-game in the NHL or 22 points in an 82-game season. Hockey East’s translation factor is only slightly higher; I’m curious if we will ever get to compare Tkachuk and Pitlick’s NHL production (before you @ me, Tkachuk is a much better prospect).
A lot of these highlights are probably courtesy of linemate Casey Middlestadt, but, make no mistake, Pitlick can drive the play on his own rather effectively.
Above, Pitlick uses his solid hockey sense to drift into open ice (not as hard on a power play) and doesn’t hesitate at all to bury a beauty of a goal.
Rem Pitlick roofs it from the goal line pic.twitter.com/gEdWkl3CJV— Born Salty (@cjzero) March 4, 2018
To pair with his impressive foot speed, Pitlick has an excellent wrist shot. Above, the defensemen does an okay job of driving Pitlick to the outside, but he utilizes solid protection skills to keep the puck out of reach and roof it for a nice tally.
Minnesota ties it at 2-2. Tremendous play by Rem Pitlick to beat Erik Autio to the puck and then find Scott Reedy, who finishes home at 15:13 of the second. pic.twitter.com/NyP8pk9Cjo— Patrick Burns (@PatrickBurns_) March 3, 2018
Above, Pitlick keeps his feet moving on a thorough forecheck for the Gophers, takes really good body positioning on the defender to win a puck battle and pick up a nice assist.
Pitlick is an underrated collection of size, creativity, and awareness. It’s what will let him compete, at the least, at the AHL level in due time. He will be a big name to watch for Predators’ fans this season for his dazzling abilities.
Pitlick is currently unsigned and will remain obligated to the organization until August 15th of 2020. My bet is the team looks at offering him a contract next summer.
Pitlick has the gears to skate in the NHL and has good, creative hands. A big test of his ability will be this season and any time he gets in the AHL where he is not playing with an elite talent like Casey Middlestadt night in and night out.