Unless something dramatic takes place within the next couple of weeks, the Chicago Blackhawks will have gone through yet another summer without addressing their biggest need right in the middle of that second line.
That means that the solution will take place from within, with Patrick Kane and Marcus Kruger set to do battle for the spot, as predictable as that sounds. But it may not come down to just those two. There may be a wild card that could contend for the spot in Brandon Pirri.
Pirri is an intriguing player in the Blackhawks’ organization for a couple of different reasons. He has the potential to be an effective player for the Hawks, but could also end up being a big piece of a potential trade at some point, if the Hawks eventually choose to upgrade in the middle or on defense.
Of course, the former is more likely at this point, with Pirri expected to get at least a shot at that spot in training camp. He displayed some flashes last season that showed he might be capable of holding that spot down, even making the team out of camp, though that was short-lived.
Pirri isn’t a gamechanger in the middle and doesn’t project to be one in the future, but he could be very solid there nonetheless. He’s very intelligent and has nice playmaking skills that could benefit from playing between the likes of Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa in some combination.
Brandon Pirri on the second line would be an ideal situation for the Blackhawks. It would keep Patrick Kane on the wing and Marucs Kruger in more of a defensive role on the fourth line, which are roles that both of them are probably better suited for.
Whether or not that happens, though, is going to be up to Pirri.