It’s been a busy 24 hours for Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks, a period in which we have seen the departure of AHL All-Star Brandon Pirri and a contract extension for fourth line bruiser Brandon Bollig.
A number of fans are upset about the Pirri trade, but it was necessary. According to TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie, Pirri asked for a trade several weeks ago (presumably around the same time as he was sent back to the Rockford IceHogs just prior to the Olympic break). This is hardly surprising; there had been murmurs among Blackhawks circles all year long that coach Joel Quenneville had no love lost for Pirri’s game, and this became increasingly evident as the season progressed.
Whether or not you believe Quenneville’s apparent unwillingness to give Pirri a legitimate chance at a stable role was justified, it was ultimately a situation in which the young center was doomed to fail. He has been playing well in the AHL, and Bowman shipped him to the Florida Panthers while he still had appreciable value. The trade was a sensible one.
The three-year, $3.75 million contract extension for Bollig, however, is a good deal less sensible. There is no denying the enormous improvement in Bollig’s play this season, and he has earned credit for it. Nevertheless, fourth line players of his ilk are a dime a dozen. With Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad all set to demand sizable raises in the next few years, extra “salary cap fat” such as this can present a problem that is as pressing as it is wholly unnecessary. For a team that will be jammed up against the cap ceiling for years to come, signing Bollig to this deal simply doesn’t make sense.