The Panthers are continuing to retain their in-house talent, this time by signing forward Brandon Pirri to a two-year, one-way contract. Pirri, acquired last season from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a 2014 third-round pick and a 2015 fifth-round pick, immediately stepped into the Florida lineup in March and proceeded to score seven goals and 14 points in 21 games with the club. Pirri was also productive in the shootout for the Panthers, and seems to have solidified his place in the lineup as the Panthers were confident enough in his performance to grant him a one-way deal.
Pirri was an AHL MVP before with the Rockford Icehogs, and although he seemed to be lost in the fathomless Chicago depth chart, he started to show flashes of being an NHL-caliber forward during brief callups with the Hawks. In his time with the Panthers last season, he illustrated why he is considered to be a top offensive talent, and played a solid two-way game that left many surprised, as the knock on him to this point has been his defensive play and hustle. With new head coach Gerrard Gallant in the house, along with a new coaching staff, Pirri's offensive skill set is going to be utilized much more, and we'll likely see him on the power play often. I'd also venture to guess he's going to see time at right wing, especially if the Cats don't do more in free agency to shore up that position.
This is a smart signing by Florida as Pirri has yet to hit his NHL ceiling. With some of the talented centers around him, if he does transition to wing he could be a 20-goal scorer over a full 82-game season. Time will tell, but this was one of the more important RFAs the Panthers had to retain, and they got it done.