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Picking Up Pirri

by "Hockey Pat" McGrath / Florida Panthers
Center Brandon Pirri skates with the puck in a game for the Blackhawks (Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers jumped into the trade deadline fray on Sunday evening when they announced a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks for 22-year-old center Brandon Pirri. In exchange for Pirri, the Panthers sent the Blackhawks two draft picks, a third-rounder in 2014 and a fifth-rounder in 2016.

The two draft picks seem like a small price to pay for the 6’0” center who has been one of the Blackhawks’ top prospects ever since he was drafted in the second round (59th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

"Brandon is a young and talented player who we are extremely pleased to have acquired," said Panthers’ General Manager Dale Tallon, "He has experienced tremendous success on the American Hockey League level, being named MVP of the All-Star game and winning the league's scoring title. Pirri further adds to our depth at center along with Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Drew Shore. We look forward to his contributions to our team."

With the acquisition, Tallon has managed to bring in a massively talented young player while giving up very little in the deal. Pirri has the potential to become a top-six forward and by only giving up the two later round draft picks, the Panthers succeeded in bringing in Pirri without giving up any young assets of their own.

Pirri has played in 28 games with the Blackhawks this season tallying 11 points (6-5-11). He has also played in 26 games with the Blackhawks’ minor league affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, where he was a point-per-game-player with 11 goals and 15 assists while also being named the MVP of the AHL All-Star game.

With the addition of Pirri the Panthers have added another talented young center to their already staggeringly deep crop of players at the position. The Panthers now have four NHL quality centers under the age of 23; Drew Shore (23), Pirri (22), Nick Bjugstad (21) and Aleksander Barkov (18). He will also join F Jimmy Hayes and D Dylan Olsen as players who started the season in the Chicago organization before coming over to the Panthers via trade.

Pirri, like Olsen and Hayes, is a player with NHL-caliber ability who was blocked from NHL playing time by the mass of talent on the Blackhawks roster. With the move to the Panthers, it appears that Pirri will have an opportunity to compete at the NHL level.

The Panthers have been adamant about their trade-deadline intentions. They will not be moving any of their young cornerstones but they will certainly listen to any deals that can improve the team moving forward. The acquisition of Pirri is definitely one of those deals as it makes a team that was already strong down the middle even stronger.

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