As the Rockford IceHogs' 2020-21 season comes to a close, there is one player who deserves recognition for his accomplishments with the Chicago Blackhawks' AHL affiliate.
The Blackhawks selected Brandon Pirri 59th overall in the second round of the 2009 NHL Draft, and since then he has put together an illustrious career as far as the AHL goes. His accomplishments rank among the best with the Rockford IceHogs and place him alongside a few other recognizable names within the organization.
To this point, Pirri has played in 246 games with the IceHogs and leads the team in all-time assists with 134 in addition to total points at 210. His ability to put the puck in the net lands him second on the franchise list with 76 goals, second to former Blackhawk Jeremy Morin, who posted 90 career tucks with Rockford in 236 contests.
Pirri, an Ontario, Canada native, used this season to surpass Mark McNeill (72) on the all-time goal list. The 30-year-old forward has eight goals in seven games while adding a pair of assists in 2021.
Pirri's career has landed him in a few NHL cities since his draft year. Stints with the Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers, and Vegas Golden Knights resulted in a grand total of 276 NHL games and 121 points (72 goals, 49 assists). His best NHL campaign came in 2015-16 with a combination of the Panthers and Ducks. He registered 14 goals and 15 assists between both clubs. That performance followed a campaign with the Panthers in which he lit the lamp 22 times but added just two assists.
Rockford was the site of Pirri's best AHL year in 2012-13 when the former second-rounder tallied 75 points (22 goals, 53 assists) in 76 games. Because of these totals, Pirri won the John B. Sollenberger Trophy for the league's top point-getter that season.
The Golden Knights signed Pirri to a two-year deal in 2019 worth $1.55 million and traded him to the Blackhawks in September of 2020 for Dylan Sikura. This leads to Pirri's contract expiring after the 2020-21 season, making him an unrestricted free agent. As the Blackhawks lean on their younger stars to build a future that fans can be excited about, a 30-year-old Pirri doesn't seem to be a fit in the team's plans moving forward. However, his value at the AHL level for the prospects coming up is evident.
For Pirri, a player who has consistently succeeded at the AHL level, a team in another stage of their plans may have a use for the goal-scoring forward. One can assume that NHL hockey is something Pirri prefers, so if another offer comes his way, this is the time for IceHogs to show their gratitude for the performances that he submitted. If he in fact returns to the Blackhawks organization, there are plenty more goals to be had.
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