When the Blackhawks broke training camp to start this season, there was one name left off the roster that shocked many people. The name was Brandon Pirri. After the offseason trades of Michael Frolik and Dave Bolland, it made sense that Brandon Pirri would be on the Blackhawks roster.
Pirri played with the RPI Engineers in the ECAC in the 2009-10 season. He spent three seasons in Rockford. Last year in the AHL, Pirri lead the league in scoring with 75 points in 76 games played. Essentially, he tallied a point a game in the minors. General Manager Stan Bowman had touted Pirri and Drew LeBlanc as NHL ready players. However Pirri’s journey to the NHL was not that simple.
When camp started this season, Pirri suffered a hamstring injury. He did not participate in most of the preseason with the Blackhawks. So despite being a natural center and touted by the General Manager as NHL ready, Pirri was sent down to the minors. Pirri was disappointed about his assignment to Rockford.
After being sent to Rockford rumors began to swirl around Pirri. The rumor was that Pirri might not get a chance to play in the NHL with the Blackhawks. Pirri did not let his demotion affect his demeanor. Pirri was quoted in an interview about his demotion, “You can’t control where you are. You just have to do the best with the situation you have”. (Quote compliments of Scott Powers on ESPNchicago.com)
Pirri must have been doing something right at Rockford. On October 12th, the Blackhawks recalled Brandon Pirri and sent down Jimmy Hayes. Upon his arrival to the NHL things have still not been easy for Pirri. Pirri has been featured mainly on the fourth line this season. He has been teamed with Marcus Kruger and Brandon Bollig. He even played on a line that featured Bollig and Joakim Nordstrom.
His minutes have been very limited. He has been seeing the least amount of ice time of players dressed. On Saturday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pirri only played nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds.
Despite being featured on the fourth line and playing less than 10 minutes a game, Pirri has made the most of his ice time. In three games, he has two goals and one assist. Pirri this season has faced some adversity but appears to making it work at the NHL level. If he continues to produce on the fourth line expect his minutes to increase.
The moral of this story is simple. If Pirri keeps producing the coaches will keep him in the NHL; if he stops producing then pack your bags for Rockford.
For Pirri’s sake and the Blackhawks sake I hope he keeps producing.