Things are funny sometimes. Just as I am sitting down and starting to think who the Blackhawks might call up to fill in for Marian Hossa, Stan Bowman goes and trades one of those guys away. On Sunday the GM traded forward Brandon Pirri to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2014 third round pick and 2016 fifth round pick.
The move is not at all surprising considering that Pirri is a restricted free agent this summer and clearly did not fit in coach Joel Quenneville's plans. Pirri will see a lot of friendly faces in Florida where he will be joining former Hawks prospects Dylan Olsen and Jimmy Hayes. The Panthers also have former Hawks, Tomas Kopecky and Brian Campbell.
Pirri, 22, was a 2009 second round pick of the Hawks. He appeared in 35 games for the Blackhawks, with 28 of those coming this season.
Things actually looked good for Pirri coming into the season. Most expected him to be the second line center and skate along with Patrick Kane. However an injury slowed him in camp but he did join the team a few games into the season. Over those first 16 games things looked about as many had hoped. He tallied six goals and five assist for a total of 11 points. But then the team got healthy and he went scoreless for eight games and was sent back down to Rockford.
He rejoined the team for a four game stretch on the ice show road trip but his playing time decreased in each game. Pirri was last in the lineup on February 4th against the Kings.
But while he struggled in the NHL, he was a star in the AHL. Actually he was a two-time All-Star and won All-Star game MVP this season.
There is no word yet on if Pirri will report directly to the Panthers or their AHL affiliate. But if you read between the lines it sounds like he is NHL bound. Panthers GM Dale Tallon had this to say about Pirri:
Brandon is a young and talented player who we are extremely pleased to have acquired, He has experienced tremendous success on the American Hockey League level, being named MVP of the All-Star game and winning the league’s scoring title. Pirri further adds to our depth at center along with Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Drew Shore. We look forward to his contributions to our team.
Those three players he listed are all currently on the NHL roster.
On the Blackhawks side of the trade this clears the way for prospect Teuvo Teravainen to possibly be the second line center later this season or next season for sure. Teravainen is currently over in Finland and if he doesn't get chosen for the World Championship team could be available to play for the Hawks this season.
Now with Pirri gone we can start speculating if Bowman will be shipping out Jeremy Morin before the trade deadline on Wednesday. My money is on yes because he will be a restricted free agent this summer just like Pirri and has been passed by several other prospects. I think the only reason he might not get moved is if they recall him because Hossa is going to miss serious time.
We will just have to wait and see.