Minnesota native Rem Pitlick felt hurt when Wild placed him on waivers
Now with the Montreal Canadiens, the 24-year-old Pitlick is looking to make the most of his opportunity.
ST. PAUL — For Minnesota native Rem Pitlick, his time with the hometown Wild was like a supernova. He burned bright for a short amount of time, then quickly flamed out.
Most remember Pitlick scoring a hat trick during a Nov. 13 game against the Seattle Kraken. At that point he looked like he might be a foundational piece of the future.
As time progressed, though, Pitlick struggled to adapt to his role near the bottom half of the lineup. He saw his playing time decrease, got passed by winger Connor Dewar on the depth chart, and was placed on waivers by the Wild earlier this month.
“I’m not going to lie,” said Pitlick, who played 20 games with the Wild. “It definitely hurt. But it’s a business. You get going again and there are new connections to be made.”
That played out almost immediately as Pitlick was claimed off waivers by Montreal on Jan. 12. He immediately stepped into a role in the top half of the lineup and has a goal and an assist for the Canadiens so far.
“That’s the type of player I want to be,” Pitlick said before Monday’s game against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. “I think there’s been an opportunity given to me with more ice time and different looks on the (power play).”
Asked about playing against the Wild so soon after being placed on waivers, Pitlick described it as “an odd experience” that he was very much looking forward to.
“I’m doing my best to treat it like a normal game,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting that it’s such a quick turnaround here now that we’re playing them.”
Though he was stung by how his time with the Wild came to an end, Pitlick isn’t looking back now that he’s a member of the Canadiens.
“I know guys kind of go through different evolutions as they try to get to their end,” Pitlick said. “I’m just really excited to be a part of Montreal and do everything I can to make whatever opportunity I’m given work.”
After returning to the Wild lineup for Saturday’s win over the Chicago Blackhawks, captain Jared Spurgeon is hoping his injury woes are behind him. He suffered the initial lower-body injury during a Nov. 20 game against the Florida Panthers, then re-aggravated it during a Dec. 16 game against the Buffalo Sabres.
“We just took more time with it this time and slow-played it as much as possible,” Spurgeon said of his recovery process. “Obviously, first time it didn’t work out the way we wanted to, so we changed it up a bit.”
After missing the past few weeks, goaltender Cam Talbot was back in the crease for Monday’s game.
He suffered the lower-body injury during the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, and while the recovery process took longer than expected, Talbot said it was a good thing to err on the side of caution.
“You don’t want to come back too early,” he said. “We all talked and thought it’d be best to wait a few more days and feel excited and ready to go.”
Meanwhile, fellow goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen quietly boasts a 9-2-2 record this season to go along with a 2.48 goals-against average and 922 save percentage.