Rhett Pitlick is a dominant skater. Once again, a characteristic shared by many of the Canadiens’ picks this draft. He carves his way up and down the ice with crossovers, looking for an opening to get in the offensive zone. However, it’s not enough to be a great skater to play in the modern NHL — you also have to be a quick thinker. Fortunately for the Habs, that is one of Pitlick's strengths. His ability to find outlets under pressure is exceptional.
Pitlick isn’t one of those high-school players who thrived on slowing the game down and abusing the space. He challenges opposing defence, looking to create space for his teammates and get them the puck. At the same time, he loves having the puck on his stick and can create multiple scoring chances on a single shift because of his good movement and puck control.
The first clip above is a good example of these abilities. He comes down the wing, releases on net, retrieves the puck, passes it to a teammate, continues to support the play, gets another prime scoring chance and ends the sequence by creating another for a teammate — all of that in the span of a few seconds. His acceleration and anticipation allowed him to continuously get first touch on the puck.
He attacks the opposing defence straight on on when he finds the open lane to do so, but can make them move by skating on an arc, only to drop the puck to teammates or chip it behind the defence after displacing them.
Due to his the style of his game — his quick feet, but also his general speed of execution — he didn’t have problem adjusting to the USHL in his short stint there this season. He played seven games for the Omaha Lancers and scored five points for them. While there, he showed that he could also have an effective game around the net, circling the slot and jumping on loose pucks. Although he was in a sheltered role, like many high-schoolers who play in the American Junior League at the end of their season, he still made an impact with the minutes he got.
Overall, his performance is a good sign when projecting him to the NCAA. He is committed to the University of Minnesota, but not unlike Jayden Struble, who will spend a year in the BCHL to prepare himself to the jump, Pitlick will also gain experience in junior hockey before starting his college career. He will rejoin the Omaha Lancers in the USHL — at least for stretches of games — in 2019-20, and should be one of their main offensive weapons. It’s also possible he that could spend another year primarily with Chaska High.
Dobber Prospects: #124
Future Considerations: #223
Hockey Prospect: #43
NHL Central Scouting: #98 (NA Skaters)
Pronman/The Athletic: #60
Pitlick isn’t the biggest player at 5’9’’, but he has a strong work ethic. It will naturally take him a few years before he is in the conversation to turn professional, but he is another good example of the Habs taking on longer term NCAA projects.