The Brandon Pirri experiment is almost over

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

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.

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  • I think Piri really missed Zib on the PP. From the beginning Piri was nothing more than a PP specialist. Once Zib went down Piri disappeared as well. If the guy isn’t scoring then he’s useless hence is spot on the 4th line. I’d be fine with him sitting when Buch and Nash return but I would give him a couple of games when Zib comes back and see if they can rekindle their PP chemistry.

    • I think there is an explanation, look where he gets the puck, almost impossible to one time it. Zib indeed was the one who “fed” him well.

    • I agree lets see what happens when Zib returns right handed and lefty firing shots on goal. Pirri is a pp specialist but needs someone to feed him for one timers.

  • Pirri reminds me of Erik Christensen (if you’re reading this blog you probably know who I am referring to). Agree or disagree?

    • A perfect current year example of a DH (powerplay specialist) trying to resurrect his career in a new city on a cheap show me deal is Sam Gagner in Columbus. Unfortunately, Gagner is enjoying a greater measure of success.

    • Christiansen was a better hockey player than Pirri. That’s more an indictment of Pirri’s low level of play than a compliment of Christiansen. I’d have taken a young Prucha over Pirri, as well. At least Petr had some speed and a tiny bit of jam to his game.

      Like Chris detailed in the original post, Pirri has a shot and nothing else.

      I bet he’ll be a demon in one of the Euro leagues and I think we’ll find out at some point during 2017.

  • While Pirr’s 15 minutes of fame on Broadway are just about ending, it is nice to know he will be replaced by what most teams would call a first line. Some bodies need to sit when Nash, Buch and Zib return. Pirri is the easy call. I think Oskar has earned a spot on the club. Hrvik probably goes back to the AHL as well. JT goes back to a wing. I still count an extra forward. Not sure who starts watching games from the pressbox.

    • Puempel, Pirri, and Hrivik will all sit or be waived.

      Oscar forced his way into the lineup.


      Extras: Pirri, Puempel, Hrivik

      Am I missing someone?

      • Separating Kreider and Zuccarello at this point would be crazy. Fantastic chemistry between those two.

      • Agree. Some decisions when everyone healthy. Looking ahead, the expansion draft will be tough for Rangers. They will lose a starting forward, most likely Fast, Lindberg or Grabner. While Grabner seems like the likely guy to get selected, he will be 30 yrs old and i think that may factor in.

      • When they get everyone back this season, I’d put Vesey with Nash and Stepan, Zucc Mika and Kreider together, Grabner with Miller and Hayes, and Buch with Oscar and Fast. I would hope they’d try set lines for a while.

        Nash and Vesey have chemistry, as do Kreider and Zucc. Grabner has remarkable chemistry with Hayes and Miller, and he deserves more than 4th line minutes. Buch has played only a handful of games, and will play quite well with Oscar. 4th line is where he should slot until he proves more. Overall, having a lot of talented forwards is s nice problem to have, so, no matter the combos they should put points up.

        But my biggest concern is letting Clendo rotate with Girardi and Klein to at least get the older guys some rest for now and see if they make any moves in February.

  • Still tied for team lead in PP goals and has the most power play shots. Yes, to all who say he misses Zibanejad.

    Here’s one to GET everyone up. Would love to see what Zib could do firing up #4 on the PP. .

    • Al I was thinking the same thing with Clendening replacing Stepan on the PP. last year when Boyle was put in Stepan spot things clicked. They both can one time the puck or make quick decisions with it. Stepan does nether well.

  • I would like to see Clendening get more playing time anywhere at this point. Klein and Girardi and Skjei can each use some rest.

  • Was against signing Pirri from the get-go, and frankly he’s done nothing to change my opinion. Keeping him to be a PP specialist is a waste of roster space. I prefer Lindberg on the fourth line, not Pirri.

  • I’ve been impressed with Hrvik a lot. Skating is a lot better than I recall. Pirri sits or waived, Zbad back in the Ovie spot on the PP, and JT taking Pirri’s spot.

  • When we’re healthy we just don’t need the only thing that Pirri brings – goal scoring. There’s enough depth to make him nothing more than a 5th line player.

  • I dont think this is fair. For me this in large part an AV utilization issue.

    Pirri has an offensive skill set, with all kinds of injuries to the team, how many times has he played with top 6 linemates? How many times has he played with top 9 linemates?

    He has been firmly planted on the 4th line.

    Linemates matter for offensive players, we just saw it with JT Miller. AV got mad at him, burried him on the 3rd line and fourth line and his production took a nose dive, he got out of AV’s penalty box and he started being productive again.

    Pirri is another player in a ever growing list of players that have been underutilized/misused under AV.

    • Fundamental issue much like with Jensen: they may have skills but not better than top 6, don’t do enough in other parts of game to be effective in limited minutes.

    • Why do you think Pirri was available so cheap? He’s too one dimensional to fit on most teams, and he can’t create his own opportunities. So, unless a team has 11 other skilled offensive players (which the rangers do when all the top guys are healthy), there’s really no place for him other than strictly on the power play.

  • Agree that Pumpit has risen above the depth chart above Pirri, but I thought Hvirik was going to play a little more physical then he has. Jensen been a dud.

    Lindberg will likely be the 4th line pivot when Zibanejad returns, Hvirik goes back to Hartford. Pirri and Pumps battling for a roster spot when Nash and Buchnesvich get back in the lineup.

  • Last paragraph: “He’s not even a strong faceoff guy”

    I thought he was one of the better F on the team: says his FO% = 55.62 %

    Also as stated before his role is stapled to the 4th line under AV and Prducing roghly 30 Points on a 82G Season would be perfectly fine.
    I think there are worse 4th liners out there.

  • When Zibanejad returns, Pirri loses his position as 4th line center, as everyone slides down

    Kreider Stepan Zuccarello
    Nash Zibanejad Buchnevich
    Vesey Hayes Miller
    Grabner Lindberg Fast

    Is how I have the lines shaking out when 100%

  • When the three injured forwards come back, I predict Pirri gets released, Hrivik gets sent down to Hartford, and Puempel is either placed on LTIR or becomes the 13th forward, depending on his concussion recovery.

    I like Robert’s lines a lot!

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