With the hot start Brandon Pirri got off to as a Ranger it was hard to understand how he bounced around the league so much – he looked like a potential top six shooter, albeit one with defensive deficiencies. He certainly looked like a guy that should be potting 20 goals per year and not bouncing around a league desperate for goal scorers. The past month or so however, and it’s a lot easier to see why Pirri hasn’t stuck with any team for a prolonged period.
Pirri hasn’t just blown hot and cold, he’s just disappeared for stretches. He’s been a passenger far too many times despite having some significant tools at his disposal. Pirri has good offensive instincts and he has a great shot but too often recently he hasn’t brought anything to the table.
Pirri’s last goal was December 11th. He’s gone ten games without scoring. Before that he went twelve games without finding the net. He has just 60 shots (at time of writing) on net despite owning a shot that many players would sell their mothers for. When your best hope of sticking in the NHL is your release you better be releasing it more often.
The problem with one dimensional players is that when they’re not delivering on their one dimension they fade away and provide no benefit to their team. While Pirri is not a cap anchor and is a cheap depth player, when he’s bringing nothing else to the team, the Rangers would almost be better off (granted, when healthy) getting rid of Pirri and stashing the cap savings for the deadline when they may have a chance at a blueline upgrade. Every cent counts.
In his defense it’s a fair argument to suggest that Pirri is not a 4th line player, that’s he’s not been ideally deployed and he looked significantly better when the Rangers were healthy enough to spread their offensive wealth and roll four skill lines rather than ice a traditional top and bottom six divide that they’ve been having to do more recently. Has he even been put in position enough with the PP to get his shot off? With all that said, he still hasn’t done enough in the opportunities he has received.
At this stage, it would be a shock if Pirri wasn’t in street clothes when the Rangers get healthy. With Pavel Buchnevich’s return imminent, with Rick Nash on deck and with Mika Zibanejad days rather than weeks away Pirri’s Ranger career – and not just his spot in the line-up – is potentially over.
Pirri is surely also behind Matt Puempel and even Marek Hrivik at this point. Both depth players bring more to the team when they’re not scoring. Heck, if it’s a choice between Pirri and developing a prospect on the fourth line, give me Boo Nieves in a developmental capacity any day. This is how far Pirri’s stock has fallen.
Pirri doesn’t hit, he’s not a threat with his skating, he’s not a puck hound or a defensive expert. He’s not even a strong faceoff guy if you place significant worth in dressing a faceoff specialist. If Brandon Pirri isn’t scoring he’s not an NHL player. That may be harsh but it’s a realisation that the injury plagued December and January months has brought upon us.