The Chicago Blackhawks lack depth at center. The organization isn’t blessed with many front-line prospects on the cusp of playing in the NHL.
So general manager Stan Bowman’s decision to send center Brandon Pirri to the Panthers for a 2014 third-round draft pick, and a 2016 fifth-round draft pick was a bit surprising.
Pirri led the American Hockey League in scoring last season. He was the MVP of the AHL All-Star Game.
But Pirri, 22, failed to impress Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville in his two stints with this big club this season, so Bowman decided to turn the page on him. Pirri should get every chance to stick with the Panthers, who are in the midst of a total rebuild.
“You know it’s an opportunity,” Pirri told ESPN Sunday. “That’s what I was looking for. It was a great experience in Chicago and Rockford. It made me a much better player for it.
“Obviously you hear things, but you never know. It’s all talk until something happens. Obviously it was a little nerve-racking. I’m glad it’s finally over. I’m excited to start my career in Florida."
Pirri was a classic "tweener" for the Blackhawks. He needs to play an offensive role to be effective, but he wasn't quite good enough to do that in Chicago. And he doesn't check well enough to play on the third- or fourth-line.
Bowman decided Pirri was never going to be a good fit.
“They got to do what they think is best for their organization," Pirri said. "They’re obviously the defending Stanley Cup champions. They’re there for a reason. I would have loved it to work out with the Hawks.”