Hawks prospect Pirri unsure of his future

ROCKFORD, Ill. -- Chicago Blackhawks prospect Brandon Pirri is in unfamiliar territory.

Pirri had always pictured his future being with the Blackhawks. He was drafted by them in the second round of 2009 and had been talked about in recent years as a Rockford IceHogs prospect who could fit in their long-term plans.

Pirri isn't so sure about that any longer. He's done the Interstate 90 trip from Rockford to Chicago a few times this season and hasn't stuck with the Blackhawks. Pirri's future with the organization also became slightly more unclear when the Blackhawks acquired center Pete Regin from the New York Islanders and made him their second-line center.

As the March 5 NHL trade deadline approaches, Pirri has heard rumors the Blackhawks are shopping him around. He's uncertain what will happen to him in the coming weeks.

"I don't know how to feel," said the 22-year-old Pirri after the team's morning skate in Rockford on Friday. "It's the first time I've been involved in something like this where there have been rumors flying around. But at the same time, I'm not worrying about it. Just come down and help this team win.

"It's out of my control. It's up to the management in Chicago to do what they feel is right. I'm just looking for that opportunity wherever it may be."

Pirri, who was recently included in ESPN's NHL top-50 prospects rankings, showcased his game for everyone around the NHL to see at the AHL All-Star Game on Wednesday. He was named the game's MVP after scoring two goals with an assist in the AHL All-Star team's 7-2 win over Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League.

IceHogs coach Ted Dent believes the performance will help Pirri.

"I think it's great," Dent said. "Lots of eyes watching. General managers in the NHL, scouts, everybody, the eyes were on that game for sure at the pro level this week. I think it only increases his value as a player. Hopefully he comes back to us with some confidence, keeps it going tonight [against the Chicago Wolves.]"

Dent has been impressed with Pirri on how he's handled his latest demotion to the IceHogs. Pirri had been recalled by the Blackhawks on Jan. 27 and was reassigned to Rockford on Feb. 6. He had no points and played in four games and was a healthy scratch for another during his stint. Pirri said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told him he needed to produce more while he was on a line with Patrick Kane.

Pirri previously returned to Rockford showing signs of frustration after being sent down. He's attempted to remain positive this time around.

"He's been real good," Dent said. "The players can choose a couple of ways to approach it -- bear down and work hard and be the best you can or feel sorry for yourself and pout a little bit and not play up to your capability. He's the chosen the first route and been real good and had a great attitude and he's worked hard."

Pirri has been mindful of his attitude.

"Obviously I'd rather be up there," Pirri said. "It wouldn't be fair to these guys if I came down here and had a bad attitude. This is my fourth year pro. I'm trying to set an example for some of the younger guys. I come down here and play well, and there's going to be an opportunity somewhere."

Pirri isn't openly asking for a trade. He said he'd like to remain with the Blackhawks, but ultimately he wants to play in the NHL.

"You know it's not my decision to make," Pirri said. "I'd love to be a Blackhawk and have a real opportunity there. It's not up to me. It's a business in the end. Just going to have to wait on it and see.

"It's something I can't control. I'm focused on being an IceHog right now. If I was up, I focused on being a Blackhawk and helping them win. It's something I can't control. At the same time, I'm just looking for an opportunity to play in the NHL."