After Dave Bolland was traded even though there was notice (about 2 days) that he was on the block, there was a bit of shock since he did just score the Stanley Cup clinching goal in Game #6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The second thought almost instantly after we found out which picks the Blackhawks were receiving from the Toronto Maple Leafs was who will be starting in 2013-2014 in place of Bolland at center.
The first name out of everyone’s mouth or keyboard was Brandon Pirri and rightfully so. Pirri was the leading scorer in the AHL this season while staring for the Rockford Ice Hogs. Pirri had a very good season scoring 22 goals and 53 assists in 76 games and a +11 which follows up a good 2011-2012 season which he scored 23 goals and 33 assists and +9.
Pirri played in the season finale against the St. Louis Blues and looked like he fit in nicely and will be given the first crack at the Dave Bolland’s vacated spot. Pirri is 22 and has improved in each of his three seasons in Rockford including last seasons AHL point leading campaign. One of the reasons Stan Bowman had to feel confident pulling the trigger on dealing Bolland besides the salary cap implications was the emergence of Pirri as center of the near future in Chicago.
The second option could be Drew LeBlanc. LeBlanc played two games with the Hawks after signing late in the season after winning the Hobey Baker Award. He finished his senior season with St Cloud St with 13 goals and 37 assists in 42 games. He didn’t record a point in his two Hawks appearances but after a shaky first period he looked very solid with a very nice passing touch in the other 5 periods he played for the Hawks.
LeBlanc played 6 games for the United States after being added to the World Championship team. LeBlanc had 3 assists in those games. LeBlanc will have other youngsters trying for the center position including 2011 first round pick Mark McNeill.
Especially when it was reported that Stan Bowman mentioned Pirri quiet a bit after the Bolland trade, it looks like it’s Pirri job to lose, but LeBlanc could be closing in on his heels which in the long run is a good thing for the Blackhawks organization.
What do you think? Who will replace Bolland?
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