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Rem Pitlick’s yoyo season

Pitlick was red-hot last season, but where does he fit in this year?

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Minnesota Wild Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Rem Pitlick has been a hot topic of discussion as of late. Going from a red-hot 26 points in 46 games last year to being HuGo’s favourite YoYo this year.

If you happened to read my end-of-year player evaluation last year you’ll know that I had him down as a potential regression candidate. If you haven’t read the article and are a fan of The Mandalorian-style side quest, then here you go.

The first thing that should be noted is that Pitlick’s 10:25 average time on ice per game played is significantly down from last year’s 17:16. However, the centre that he’s played the most with remains Jake Evans for both years.

So, let’s first look at Evans year over year before we can properly assess Pitlick. Last year Evans had 15:35 TOI per games played compared to this year’s 14:15. Last year 32.85% of his faceoffs were started in the offensive zone. This year, that number has (if even possible) dropped to 26.71%.

At 5v5 Evan’s Corsi has taken a commensurate drop from 48.49% to 44.12%. In short, Evans — who acquitted himself well with his tough match-ups last year — is being rewarded with even tougher match-ups this year.

Considering that Pitlick struggled a bit last year on the defensive side of the puck, this is clearly not a good situation for him.

So, here’s where it gets interesting for nerds like me (and if you’re still reading at this point I'm assuming you too). Pitlick and Evans, while on the ice together, have a Coris for of 39.31%. Pitlick’s Corsi without Evans craters to 30.77% whereas Evan’s jumps up to 55.4%.

Pitlick is not a defensive player but can put up some decent points. It’s probably no coincidence that Evans's point production is way down this year without Pitlick as a stalwart by his side.

Clearly, Martin St-Louis wants to use Evans in an even more defensive role than last year which somewhat precludes the inclusion of Pitlick on that line.

So then where do you put him? He enjoyed some time on the top line last year and was productive but nobody wants to mess with that chemistry this year. Pitlick becomes a casualty of his own flexibility. He’s not inept defensively but clearly shouldn’t be given a completely defensive role. He’s much better offensively but not quite as good as some of the other options.

Currently, Daily Faceoff has him centring a line between Michael Pezzetta and Joel Armia. In this case, I won't be foolish enough to make predictions, but I think that line has some interesting offensive potential if given easy deployment. Pitlick has proven he can finish and Armia and Pezzetta have proven they can grind the pucks in down low cycles.

No article about Rem Pitlick, however, is complete without mentioning his views on climate change. It’s very refreshing to see a professional athlete care like that especially in a non-judgmental laid-back kinda way. If you missed the clip, here it is.

In summary, we should all be more like Pitlick; Easy going, environmentally conscious, and never getting too defensive.