Pirri adds more depth for Blueshirts


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Brandon Pirri is the newest Blueshirt creating even more of a crowd at forward. What happens when Oscar Lindberg is ready? What about the kids? Getty Images via AP

While I was at work, fans on my timeline were crowing about Brandon Pirri. I did a quick check to see if he was trending and didn’t find anything. Apparently, it was true. The Rangers indeed signed the 25-year old Pirri for a cheap one year, $1.1 million deal.

A former second round pick of the Blackhawks in the famed ’09 Draft, Pirri has moved around quite a bit. He spent a couple of years with the Panthers where he recorded a career best 22 goals over 49 games in ’14-15. However, he fell out of favor last year when Florida made the playoffs. His production slipped to 11 goals and 13 assists in 52 contests. The Panthers moved him to the Ducks where he totaled three goals and two helpers in nine games. But didn’t participate in their first round disappointment.

So, what is there to add? I’ve always liked Pirri. He’s another depth forward who’s capable of scoring double digit goals. Listed as a center, he didn’t take many faceoffs. So, you can forget about that. Basically, if he contributes offensively then it’s a good low risk signing. Added to new depth forwards Nathan Gerbe, Michael Grabner and Josh Jooris, Pirri will compete for ice-time on the fourth line. He can play third line if necessary.

However, with young prospects Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey expected to be in a top nine that features Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello, it looks like Pirri will be in a fourth line competition with the newcomers and Alain Vigneault favorite Jesper Fast. What it means for Tanner Glass is probably the end. He’ll likely be ticketed for Hartford.

I’m most curious to see what happens when Oscar Lindberg comes back from off season surgery. The Blueshirts have a glut of forwards. Perhaps general manager Jeff Gorton will shuffle the deck. How many forwards does this team need? Credit Gorton for improving the team’s depth. He bolstered the bottom line and on paper, improved a penalty kill which was a sore spot. Where does Lindberg fit in? He would be the fourth center on the roster assuming Hayes stays at center. And what about Fast, who Vigneault loves to use on different lines?

I guess a lot will be answered by how quickly Buchnevich and Vesey adjust to an NHL training camp and preseason. They aren’t here to be sent down. However, Hartford remains an option if either needs some fine tuning. Most optimistic Ranger fans don’t want to hear that. But look at how many forwards they’ve added. How will Vigneault handle the young guys? Allotting ice-time for everyone won’t be easy.

Unless Gorton is considering using a Nash or a more cap friendly Zuccarello as trade bait to improve a weak blue line, there really are more questions than answers. For bit players like Gerbe, Grabner, Jooris and Pirri, this is their last chance. All are proven NHLers who can be used on the bottom line. Gerbe, Jooris and Grabner can kill penalties. Pirri is what he is. Is that 22-goal season a fluke? Why is he on his third team in a year? All good questions.

With the World Cup of Hockey training camp fast approaching, there will be a few players who won’t be in regular camp. But players such as Henrik Lundqvist, Miller, Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and Zuccarello will be in game shape by the time the season starts.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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