Blackhawks sign 2009 second round pick Brandon Pirri

brandonpirri-richardwolowicz-getty.jpgThe Chicago Blackhawks are dipping into recent drafts to help fill out their depth in the AHL and throughout their system as they’ve signed 2009 second round pick Brandon Pirri to a three-year entry-level contract. Pirri played last year in the NCAA at RPI where he was a teammate of newly-signed Maple Leafs prospect and Team USA World Junior superstar Jerry D’Amigo. Ken Schott of The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY gets the scoop from Pirri.

“It’s a dream come true, ever since I was a little kid,” Pirri said. “I get to do something I would do for free, but I get paid to do it now.”

If Pirri doesn’t make the Blackhawks, there will be only one place he will play.

“He will either be playing in the NHL, or the American Hockey League next year,” [agent Anton] Thun said. “He will not be playing in the Ontario Hockey League.”

Rockford is the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. Saginaw holds Pirri’s OHL rights.

For the Blackhawks, their secret stockpile of young talent now officially adds another guy capable of putting up big offensive numbers. Last year for RPI, Pirri was second on the team in points with 43, first with assists with 32 and first on the team in penalty minutes with 67 all over the course of 39 games. If it wasn’t for his teammate D’Amigo it’s possible that Pirri would’ve gotten all the attention to be ECAC rookie of the year but Pirri’s contributions were a necessary part to their success.

If you’re wondering if the penalty minutes indicate that Pirri is a bit of a goon-type player, he’s not. What he did do was spend a lot of time after whistles jawing with opposing players as well as linesmen who were more than happy to toss him from the face-off circle. While his offensive skill set is fantastic, his dedication to defense and wont to work in the corners to fight for pucks will need drastic improvement if he wants to make a push for the NHL.

(Photo: Richard Wolowicz – Getty Images)

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    Red Wings sign Tomas Tatar: four years, $21.2M

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    It turns out that Tomas Tatar‘s days are numbered with the Detroit Red Wings by almost 1,500.*

    After a salary arbitration hearing and concerns that he might leave after a single season, “Band-Aid” sort of deal, a wide variety of reporters state that the two sides instead agreed to a four-year deal with a $5.3 million cap hit, which would total $21.2 million.

    Those figures come from MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan, FanRag’s Craig Morgan, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. It will be noted if the Red Wings make the term and/or financial details official.

    Here’s the reported yearly breakdown (cue ominous music for that lockout-protection drop in 2020-21), via Morgan:

    Again, this feels like a change in viewpoint, as even just yesterday it was reasonable to wonder if Tatar would only stick around for 2017-18. Now, it is possible that Tatar might get traded at some point, but a four-year deal is a bit surprising. The forward himself speculated that a one-year deal would be it.

    This contract makes Tatar, 26, the Red Wings’ second-most expensive forward from a cap perspective, trailing only Henrik Zetteberg’s $6.083 million.

    Even with this deal out of the way, Red Wings GM Ken Holland still has some work to do, including re-signing speedy forward Andreas Athanasiou. And the situation is tight.

    * – Four times 365 is 1,460. Get it?

    Wingels fractures foot, but should be ready for Blackhawks camp

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    The good news is that Tommy Wingels is expected to be ready for Chicago Blackhawks training camp. The bad news is that he’ll be limited in his training regimen … although that very regimen caused him issues in the first place.

    Dr. Michael Terry, the Blackhawks’ team doctor, released the following update regarding Wingels:

    “Tommy Wingels sustained a left foot fracture during his off-season training. We anticipate a full recovery in six to eight weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”

    It’s unclear what caused the specific injury. Dropped weight? Unlucky fall? Perhaps a stress fracture? Without knowing the exact issue, it’s tempting to picture various painful scenarios.

    (Probably because we’re in the dog days of the hockey summer, too.)

    Wingels, 29, is on a one-year deal with Chicago, carrying a $750K salary and cap hit. He last played for the Ottawa Senators, though Blackhawks fans are most likely to remember him from his lengthy stay with the San Jose Sharks.

    Six-to-eight weeks seems like it wouldn’t give a ton of room for error, so we’ll see if he’ll actually be ready for training camp.

    Dahlin headlines Sweden’s roster for World Junior Summer Showcase

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    Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

    Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.

    Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.

    Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.

    Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.

    Related: USA Hockey invites 42 players to World Junior Summer Showcase

    All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston

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    Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

    That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

    From the Houston Press:

    But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

    Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

    And Houston is growing fast.

    Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

    Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

    FanRag’s Cat Silverman wrote extensively about this topic yesterday. To learn more, give it a read.