It was just around a year ago that the Florida Panthers acquired Brandon Pirri from the Chicago Blackhawks. After 21 games after the trade deadline last season, the Panthers got a preview of what Pirri can bring to the team, scoring 14 points (7-7—14) over that 21-game span.
This season, Pirri has emerged as a scoring threat for Florida on every shift he takes.
In his first career 20-goal season, Pirri currently ranks second in goals on Florida. Beginning the season as a healthy scratch, Pirri had to work his way into the Florida lineup and earn a full-time spot. Impressing offensively, Pirri scored goals in three of his first four games of the season before an injury halted his production.
Injuries may have slowed Pirri’s season down at first, but when given the chance to succeed, he has risen to the occasion. The 23-year old forward owns the team’s longest goal streak this season, reaching four consecutive games with a goal on two separate occasions.
With Florida in the midst of a fight for a playoff spot, Pirri could not have gotten hotter at a more perfect time. Recording nine goals in 12 games during the month of March, Pirri has become one of Florida’s most reliable offensive players.
“It feels good to contribute this late in the year, with the team being in the playoff push,” said Pirri.
Originally selected in the second round (59th overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009, Pirri played college hockey the following season for RPI. Pirri went on to record 43 points (11-32—43) with the Engineers. His following season he went pro, signing with the Blackhawks and living with past and present teammate Dave Bolland.
“It was a great learning experience,” said Pirri of living with Bolland. “Coming from college and not really being an everyday pro…going to live with him, you realize how he is an accomplished NHLer. You realize what you need to do away from the rink and [how to] train in the summer. That was big. It was big for my development.”
| || |
| KNOW YOUR CATS: Brandon Pirri |
Jersey Number: 73
From: Toronto, Ont.
Weight: 183 lbs.
Born: April 10, 1991
Drafted: 2009 second round (59th overall) Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite Movie: The Sandlot
Favorite Actor: Kevin Hart
Favorite Actress: Mila Kunis
Favorite Off-Ice Activity: Golf
Favorite Music Genre: Country
Pirri considers himself one of the lone country music fans in the Panthers locker room.
“I don’t get a lot of play here,” joked Pirri.
“I like to listen to a lot of country, I went to a lot of concerts over [last] summer, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw stuff like that.”
Pirri played four seasons in the AHL for the Rockford IceHogs (2010-14) and won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy in 2012-13 as the AHL’s leading scorer, recording 75 points (22-53—75) in 76 games played with Rockford.
Standing 6’0” and weighing in at 183 lbs. Pirri is armed with a deceptively heavy shot and a quick release.
“Just working on the technique of it, it’s something you’ve got to take pride in,” said Pirri of perfecting his shot. “If you want your shot to get better, you have to work at it yourself. I put a lot of time into it. For me I try not to waste any opportunities.
“[I] Just try to shoot to score, whether it’s practice or a game.”
Possessing the top shooting percentage on Florida (15.6%), Pirri is never afraid to shoot first. Pirri admits that his willingness to shoot has been a split decision between himself and the coaching staff’s confidence in him doing so.
“It’s been a combination [of myself and coaching staff],”said Pirri. “We’re not the highest scoring team, so everyone has to do what they can. But for me, I’ve been on the power play especially put in situations where I’m the trigger man. For me, I’m trying to shoot everything and obviously the more you shoot, the better chance you have to score. I kind of treat it as a law of averages type of thing.”
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Pirri has grown acclimated over the last year to South Florida. Aside from enjoying the ability to golf on off days, one of his favorite things about South Florida is just enjoying the weather the Sunshine State has to offer.
“I’m a big patio guy,” said Pirri. “Just being able to be on the patio every day, I think that’s a lot of fun. Just hanging out. I live right on the water, so it’s nice going for walks, just getting away from the game and letting your mind be free.”
With a young core establishing themselves and learning from the seasoned veterans added to the roster, Pirri has confidence in their group going forward and looks forward to seeing what they can build for the future.
“We’re trying to put something special together here. Not only this year, but the next coming years too.”