I’m not certain many of you anticipated I would be writing this specific piece at the beginning of the season, but Rem Pitlick has forced the organization’s hand. The 76th overall pick in 2016 has finished his junior season with the Minnesota Golden Gophers and joined the Nashville pipeline on a two-year, entry-level contract.
I’ve covered Pitlick extensively this season; it’s hard not to for a player in the top-five in national scoring. But below I’ve provided a more complete outlook of the newest contracted player’s career to-date.
By The Numbers
Pitlick finished his collegiate career with 108 points in 112 games, including 47 career goals. He led Minnesota in scoring this season and last and scored the most goals for a Gopher in a season (21) since Nick Bjugstad in 2012-13.
To be clear, these aren’t Erik Haula numbers—49 and 51 points in back-to-back seasons—but Pitlick isn’t far off. Blake Wheeler only managed 23, 38, and 35 points in his three seasons at Minnesota. Pitlick has been a consistent point producer since coming to the NCAA, despite losing elite teammates like Casey Mittlestadt—who actually had a lower points-per-game mark (0.88) in his one and only collegiate season than Pitlick did (0.89) his freshman season.
Aside from a bumpy first season in high school, Pitlick has proven to be a consistent scorer at all levels, finishing tied for sixth in the nation in scoring with 45 points and factoring into a stunning 38 percent of Minnesota’s offense.
The one knock on Pitlick’s production is that 10 of his goals came on the man-advantage this season, but only three others did the past two years and he led the league with three shorthanded goals this year.
Other than that, I’m not certain what can hold Pitlick back from being a nice, offensive piece in the bottom-six. He’s a shooting machine, finishing in the top 20 in the league with 124 shots on net, and can score in all situations. Using Rob Vollman’s updated translation factors, we can reasonably expect a little over 30 points from Pitlick in the NHL as an average projection:
Here are the translation factors in the format that you know and love.— Hockey Abstract (@HockeyAbstract) April 11, 2018
Just multiply by the translation factor.
It's based on data back to 2005-06, but it is tuned to 2017-18 league scoring levels. pic.twitter.com/RPeYrNjs9G
The Eye Test
All in all, Pitlick, #15, is a cerebral player with the puck: good hands, good distribution abilities and an excellent shot. Take a look in the clips below:
Aside from his shot, one of Pitlick’s best assets is his puck control in tight situations. I think he is a severely underrated passer and he demonstrated many times this season his ability to corral the puck under good defensive pressure and create a scoring chance or goal out of it. Check out an example below:
One thing I really like about Pitlick’s defensive game is his ability to be adaptable. A natural winger, Pitlick has spent nearly all of this season and games in the past at center. Despite being on the penalty kill, Pitlick’s flexibility between guarding the point and sealing off space below the circles creates a turnover and leads to an empty-net goal:
Despite his small stature, Pitlick has put on a good amount of weight the past couple seasons while maintaining a quick, fluid skating stride. Watch below as he executes a flawless swing through the middle of the ice and maintains consistent stride speed through the neutral zone to cruise through both defenders:
Finally, Pitlick often displays a good knack for skating tricks to create separation between him and his opponents. The below clip doesn’t show a great scoring chance, but you can see how he forces the defender into lunging for a poke check after separating from his previously-instated gap:
Due to Pitlick’s age (21 and soon to be 22) the contract is a two-year deal as stipulated by the NHL-NHLPA collective bargaining agreement. I anticipate the contract will start in the 2019-20 season. Pitlick will be a restricted free agent upon expiry.