By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) On Sunday night, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they traded center Brandon Pirri to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a 2014 third-round draft pick, and a 2016 fifth-round draft pick.
It’s quite shocking how quickly Pirri fell this season. When camped opened, he seemed to be a shoo-in for the second-line center position. A preseason injury put a stop to that, and he began his season in Rockford. When Pirri was eventually called up, he performed well initially, but he hadn’t scored a single point in his last 12 games with the Hawks.
Pirri was sent down for the final time on Feb. 6, when the Blackhawks acquired Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard from the New York Islanders. Since his demotion, Pirri had been on a absolute tear. He was scoring at an impressive clip and was named MVP of the AHL All-Star Game.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had openly criticized Pirri’s two-way play, indicating he needed to improve his defensive game if he wanted to stick on the NHL roster. Apparently, he didn’t improve enough. In Florida, Pirri will get an immediate chance to play with the big club. He joins former Rockford/Chicago teammates Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen, who are regulars in the Panthers’ lineup.
Still, the trade of Pirri was a bit puzzling. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, so it may have been unrealistic to expect a bigger return. However, couldn’t Pirri have been used as part of a package to acquire a player that can help the team this season? All this move does is hurt the organization’s center depth. It doesn’t give the Blackhawks a cent of cap relief and obviously doesn’t help the team win a Stanley Cup this season.
Let me be clear, here. I’m not the least bit upset that they decided to trade Pirri. It was fully expected, and I think everyone realized his chance with the Hawks had passed. However, the NHL’s trade deadline is this Wednesday. Why not wait until then to make this deal? Is it unreasonable to think that Pirri couldn’t be used as a piece to a bigger trade? If another deal wasn’t available, then make this deal with Florida.
It doesn’t make sense to simply dump Pirri at this point, and that’s exactly what the Blackhawks have done.
Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.