Chicago’s final few roster spots are coming down to the wire. Who should make the cut?
In the post-lockout world teams have had to re-tool and adjust to this year's lower cap. Not even the reigning Champions have been immune. Lucky for the Chicago Blackhawks they have a well-stocked farm system to pull from to replace those that have moved on. A couple of names have been at the forefront of that, Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin.
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During most of the off-season it was a widely held belief that Pirri was the favorite to inherit the second line center job, or at least be right in the mix. Finding somebody to fill the role has been quite the vexation for Joel Quenneville and company. They've tried everything, including Patrick Kane, but to no avail. Then along comes Pirri who has posted impressive numbers at the AHL level. Over the last three seasons with Rockford, Pirri's numbers have steadily improved each year, culminating in 22 goals and 75 points in 76 games. It seemed the stars were lining up perfectly for both player and team.
Then "Mad" Joel Quenneville decided it was time for another of his Frankenstein creations, namely Brandon Saad at second line center. That experiment was as much a failure as the rest of Quenneville's well-intentioned previous attempts. In the meantime Pirri suffered an undisclosed lower-body-injury, which sidelined him for the final scrimmage of training camp and the first four pre-season games. That dealt the final blow to his chances of becoming the team's new second line center. Veteran pivot Michal Handzus has that job now.
Jeremy Morin figured to be a good addition to the opening night roster, a versatile winger with grit and scoring touch. He looked to a safe bet for a job in the bottom-six where the 'Hawks could utilize his best attributes. Over the last two seasons he has posted 40 and 58 points in 69 and 67 games respectively, while racking up 85+ PIM. He has had a good camp and yet finds himself fighting to make the final cut. Complicating matters for Morin has been the emergence of Joakim Nordstrom from out of thin air, and equally strong showings from fellow Rockford alums