The Chicago Blackhawks have closed the book on center Brandon Pirri. As I expected, Pirri was moved before the trade deadline after failing to stick with the 'Hawks in several stints with the club this season.
General manager Stan Bowman has sent the talented prospect to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft as well as a fifth-round selection in 2016. The trade was announced on the Blackhawks website Sunday night.
I wouldn't be surprised if the 22-year-old Pirri made it known to Bowman that he wouldn't mind a change of scenery. He had to have read the writing on the wall concerning his prospects in the organization.
That's not to suggest that Pirri has been pouting in Rockford. In fact, Pirri has been on a tear since the 'Hawks sent him down last month. He was the MVP of the AHL All-Star Game back on Feb. 12. He totaled 11 points (6G, 5A) in nine February games with the IceHogs. He is a point-per-game player in the AHL with 26 points (11G, 15A) in 26 games.
Pirri was Chicago's second-round pick in 2009, when current Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was still a part of the 'Hawks organization. It makes sense that he'd be interested in Pirri as he also picked up Blackhawks farmhands Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen earlier this season.
All of Pirri's minor league success, including being the AHL's point leader last season, didn't add up to a permanent spot on the Chicago roster. Whether Pirri is the victim of a numbers crunch or just lacked the confidence of coach Joel Quenneville, he is now competing for playing time with another team.
With Pirri being the closest thing to an NHL-ready prospect currently available, shipping him out seems to leave the 'Hawks shorthanded at what is already a thin area at center. This leaves us to speculate on what Bowman's plan is for the rest of this season.
Bowman could be satisfied with Peter Regin and Michal Handzus taking turns centering the second line. That doesn't sound like solid thinking, but it worked out for the 'Hawks last season.
Bowman could be seeking an additional center in a deadline trade. This scenario seems unlikely, however, based upon Bowman's track record with deadline transactions.
Another intriguing option is currently skating in Europe. 2012 first-round pick Teuvo Teravainen is leading Jokerit, his team in the Finnish League, in scoring and has also been acting as captain recently. The 19-year-old center is red-hot with 24 points in his last 15 games.
Teravainen is under contract with the Blackhawks as of last August. He could conceivably join Chicago when his season ends with Jokerit later this spring.
The March 5 trade deadline is mere days away. There are many options for Bowman right now. The only thing we know for sure is that Pirri is not one of them.