With news that Kyle Turris is getting back on the ice in Phoenix, and as Patrick Kane’s faceoff winning has dipped under 50 percent in November, the focus of Hawks fans “holiday shopping” is once again on a second line center.
Should the Hawks consider moving prospects for a center like Turris in Phoenix or Edmonton’s Sam Gagner? Or should they consider an in-house option that’s producing at Rockford?
Brandon Pirri earned a spot on the NHL roster to start the season over Marcus Kruger, and was credited with an assist in his one game with the Hawks. Since heading back to Rockford, he’s been as good as they’ve had on the IceHogs roster.
In his first 16 games in Rockford this year, Pirri has five goals and 10 assists, with six penalty minutes and is plus-one. He leads the IceHogs in points, and is second (behind Brian Connelly) in assists. Five of his assists are on the power play as well.
During the preseason, Pirri showed the ability to play against NHL players, especially in his two-goal performance in Detroit.
The temptation with these Hawks is to use the nearly $6M in cap space to go after a player with more NHL experience, but the best move the organization could make with the future of the organization in focus might be giving Pirri a shot as the second line center. He had a couple two-goal games in the preseason, and didn’t disappoint in limited action in Chicago to begin the year.
Pirri still has three years remaining on his entry-level contract, which carries a $870k cap hit. By comparison, Turris’ new deal reportedly has a $1.4M cap hit after he posted 25 points in 63 games for the Coyotes last year. Gagner, on the other hand, has four consecutive NHL seasons with more than 40 points, justifying his $2.275M cap number for the rest of this year. However, Gagner will be a restricted free agent this summer and could be looking for a raise into the mid-$4M range.