Got cap issues? Need to replenish the farm? No worries, just do what the Chicago Blackhawks did this past summer.
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman had no choice but to shed salary even though the team’s NHL-caliber depth was going to take a hit. Chicago will suffer a bit in the short term, but they’ve got at least two good reasons to remain optimistic.
By getting Jeremy Morin in the Dustin Byfuglien trade and signing Brandon Pirri to a pro contract after just one year at college, the Chicago Blackhawks have added a potent pair of prospects to their top farm club -- the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.
The Hawks also snagged a first- and second-round pick in the Byfuglien deal, too, which they used to draft Kevin Hayes and Justin Holl. Not slagging any of the players Chicago gave up, but when you’re operating from a compromised position like the Hawks were, that’s a great return. (Brent Sopel, Akim Aliu and Ben Eager were the other players Chicago gave up in that deal.)
Morin and Pirri have both impressed this summer. Pirri added some much-needed muscle and Morin came very close to making the Hawks as a 19-year-old.
Because of their new address, and their good showing at training camp, both have climbed the ladder on the Dobber top 215 Prospects List. Pirri has climbed from 146 to 68 on the while Morin has climbed from 61 to 45. Both should be owned in keeper leagues, so if they’re not owned in your league, make a point of getting them. For those in leagues where such details matter for draft eligibility, Pirri has played one game this season.
Both are off to quick starts with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL – but more importantly they are getting power-play time. They are offensive players and they need to play on the power play to develop their skills to become productive NHLers.
It seems like common sense, but not all NHL teams get this and make sure their farm teams are grooming prospects for the big leagues.
Morin is a winger who is a natural sniper and was one of the top pure goal scorers in the 2009 draft along with John Tavares, Brayden Schenn, Landon Ferraro, and Chris Kreider. He can score in any league and his 47 goals in 58 games for Kitchener last season is a true indication of his ability. Despite his nickname – Jet – he is not a fast skater, but that is not something that he relies on to create scoring opportunities for himself. His skating might hold him back a bit in some parts of the game, but he will find ways to score in the NHL.
Pirri oozes skill and the puck seems to follow him around. Of course, what that means is that he has great hockey sense and anticipation. When he has the puck, he patiently sorts out his options. He has great vision to increase his options and great passing ability to capitalize on them. He uses a good change of pace to open up space and has a good skating stride. He put on enough weight this past summer that he was able to forgo his last three years of college and jump to the pro game.
Upsides: Morin, 45-30-75+, 60 PIM; Pirri 25-55-80, 40 PIM