Brandon Pirri: Absolute Steal for Panthers


When one thinks of the Florida Panthers future for years to come, they immediately have the thought of defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forwards Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Nick Bjugstad. However, a name that definitely has to be thrown into the mix now is forward Brandon Pirri.

Pirri was drafted 59th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. Due to the Blackhawks having a strong depth chart, he only played seven games with Chicago over the course of three seasons between 2010-2013 with two assists.

However, in the 2013-2014 season, he started to crack the Blackhawks lineup and looked to be staying full-time with the big club as he played in 28 games with six goals and five assists. However, it would still be difficult to work his way up in the lineup when Chicago had some of the best top two lines in the league.

Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers /

Florida Panthers

On March 2, 2014, the Blackhawks traded him to the Panthers for a 2014 3rd round pick and 2016 5th round pick in the NHL Draft. The move would give a player with possible potential a better chance to shine as the Panthers had a very young roster with many holes to fill. For the remainder of the season, Pirri scored seven goals and helped out with seven assists in 21 games in Florida. That definitely raised some eyebrows from Panthers fans and the front office for a guy that had trouble cracking the lineup previously in Chicago.

Panthers fans were stunned when new head coach Gerard Gallant scratched Pirri for the first four games of the season. Fans on Twitter tried to trend the hashtag #FreePirri and held up signs to play him at the first two home games. Pirri made sure to let Gallant know that he made a mistake as he scored a goal in his second, third, and fourth games of the season.

Unfortunately, during his fourth game of the season on October 30th against the Arizona Coyotes, he received a concussion from former Coyote defenseman Keith Yandle on a questionable hit that had no penalty assessed. Pirri was on the injured reserve list until November 24th and was not the same player. He did not score any goals and received one assist in 15 games.

More from The Rat Trick

That was short-lived as over the last 22 games, he has gone to the player that he was in the first four games of the season with 18 points and only one of them being an assist. His shooting percentage is now at 15.6% with 128 shots on the season as a slap shot from the blue line or a wrister in front of the net. He is second on the team in goals with 20 behind Bjugstad whom has 24 goals. Although, Bjugstad has played 72 games compared to Pirri’s 41.

One can wonder if he had not received that hit from Yandle how his season would have totaled as. Had Pirri stayed healthy all season, his numbers would average in 78 games to about 40 goals and since he seems to definitely be a goal scorer rather than set-up player, come out to around 41 points.

At age 23, if his success can keep up and grow, Pirri really could be something special with the Panthers as they continue to build into a contender with their young talent over the next few seasons. He is a restricted free agent after this season, so it is likely that Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will look for progression next season to see if he will be signed with the team long-term.

With a young Panthers team on the rise, his potential is absolutely noticed and appreciated tremendously. After failing to shine with the Blackhawks, Brandon Pirri may have found a home in Florida for years to come as their possible top goal scorer. To think that the Panthers only gave up a 3rd and 5th round pick shows that this could go down as one of Tallon’s top transactions during his term in Florida.