During every NHL training camp there is always going to be one or two prospects who have stellar camps and make final roster decisions difficult for team management. This year for the Chicago Blackhawks that player is 2011 second round pick Brandon Saad.
Saad has had an outstanding camp in which he has not looked out of place amongst NHL talent and has even spent time playing with the Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. When united with Toews against the Washington Capitals he would tally the game winning goal along with an assist.
The situation with Saad is an interesting one as he has all the physical attributes of an NHL player and is proving that he does have the ability to play at the NHL level but with the Hawks deep at wing Saad may not be the player that sticks after camp breaks.
So if Saad’s shot at the roster looks bleak who amongst Blackhawks prospects has a shot at the final roster?
Enter another Brandon, Brandon Pirri.
Pirri has also had a solid camp for the Blackhawks seemingly flying under the radar throughout camp until Sunday night when Pirri had a breakout game against the Detroit Red Wings and a sizable group of their regulars. In the loss to the Red Wings, Pirri registered two goals, an assist and tallied the lone shootout goal for the Blackhawks.
So after Pirri’s breakout game what is the likelihood that he sticks with the ‘Hawks after they break camp? Pirri likely has a solid shot at making the team out of camp because of the uncertain status of Patrick Sharp and the two game suspension of Dan Carcillo.
Another factor that favors Pirri is that he is a center rather than a wing with depth down the middle being a continual issue for the Blackhawks. An example of how thin the ‘Hawks are at center they are now experimenting with Patrick Kane at center.
Although Pirri may not be at the level of a second line center in the NHL, if he does make the team it allows them to play Kane at a position he is more comfortable at and allows Pirri to get some NHL experience under his belt until the ‘Hawks reach full strength.
Now Pirri may not be long for the Blackhawks but he is an intriguing option for the banged up Blackhawks as that 12th or 13th forward that allows them great flexibility as they enter the season.