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Blackhawks prospects prepare for fierce training camp battles

Jul 27, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT

Brandon Pirri #37 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates up the ice against the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center on December 21, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
(December 20, 2011 - Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks are a team known for their depth, but salary cap considerations led to them trading Daniel Carcillo, Michael Frolik, and Dave Bolland since they captured the Stanley Cup. That’s created some opening in Chicago for young forwards and there’s several players that will be vying for those open spots.

One of the prominent ones is 22-year-old Brandon Pirri, who scored 22 goals and a league-leading 75 points in 76 games with the AHL Rockford IceHogs last season.

He only has seven games worth of NHL experience, but the lockout might have worked in his favor because it gave him a chance to play with and against people that would have normally been in the top league.

“It was big to see the way (the NHL players) take things day-to-day at the rink and away from the rink,” said Brandon Pirri, according to CSN Chicago. “It’s where I want to be, so I try taking stuff away from it but also doing what makes me comfortable at the rink. It was fun, but there’s a healthy competition.”

“These guys take care of you, they make sure you’re ready to play at all times,” Jimmy Hayes said, echoing Pirri’s comments about the benefit of locked-out NHLers spending some time in the minors. “They’re always looking out for me and making me feel like a part of the team no matter (if I’m playing in the NHL or AHL).

“It was great to see a lot of those players like (Nick) Leddy and (Marcus) Kruger who’ve got full years under their belt, so it was good to see how to prepare and and learn from them.”

Hayes is another serious contender to win a bottom-six job with Chicago after scoring 25 goals and 45 points in 67 AHL contests last season. He also has six goals and seven assists in 41 career NHL games.

Chicago will be entering the 2013-14 campaign with the same core that just won them the Stanley Cup, but how guys like Pirri and Hayes handle themselves next season could be the difference when a team’s third and fourth lines become critical in the playoffs.

  1. esracerx46 - Jul 27, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Wasnt just a team high of 75 points….It was a league high 75 points. I read somewhere that one of the reasons he wasnt up with the big club was they wanted to challenge him to work harder. He got the message and asked coaches if he could play on the PK unit. I think that was what the Hawks needed from him. They knew he had the offensive ability. But with his size and overall Hawks team size or lack thereof, they needed to know he would be willing to do whatever is necessary to help the team. Pirri next to 2 snipers in Sharp and Kane should be one hell of a 2nd line. If he does as well at the dot as he did in the AHL the transition should be pretty seamless. As a homer Hawks fan, he’s my dark horse for Calder.

  2. pone27 - Jul 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Us Hawks fans on here should be a bunch of pretty happy guys.

    Our farm system is loaded with young talent. I have no problem with having our young guys fill the vacancies for Carcillo, Bolland and Frolik, as well as Stahlberg.

    The players the Hawks lost, granted they were key depth guys (minus Carcillo) are the replaceable group that can be filled with young talent who are hungry to crack the roster. Its the Eagers, Handzus’, Shaws, etc. are the ones that if the Hawks lost them, I would say to myself we may have some trouble fixing.

    Just as pumped going into this upcoming season as I was last season. Lets go Hawks!

    • esracerx46 - Jul 27, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      I hope Im misunderstanding, but did you say the Hawks might be in trouble if they lost Ben Eager( hasnt been on the hawks since 2010) and Handzus?

      • alexbaymac - Jul 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM

        I’m wondering if he meant that skill is sometimes easier replaced than heart, as exemplified by that list. In that, I think I’d agree & am glad to hear that Pirri isn’t counting on just his talent to land him a roster spot anymore.

  3. blackhawks2010 - Jul 27, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Hawks are loaded and ready to repeat. Our young guns are high skill players who will contribute. Look at Saad and Leddy….

  4. endusersolutions2013 - Jul 28, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Wonder if he mixed “Bens”?. Ben SMITH is likely to contend for a role, as is Morin. Hawks fans, I just read an article that really surprised me – Bleacher gave SC odds for next year, and they had the Bruins over the Hawks. That the sum total of their odds did not add up may be an indication of the thorough of the analysis, for example, they said NOTHING about the Hawks pipeline.

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