If you asked most people close to the Chicago Wolves who has been the club’s most valuable player this year, it’d probably be a close call between forwards T.J. Tynan and Brandon Pirri. While both have been dynamic offensively, Pirri has brought some intangibles such as experience and leadership that make him the heart and soul of this year’s edition of the Wolves.
Pirri, who leads the Wolves in terms of a game played at the NHL level with 226, even has a 20-goal season to his name at that level.
His experience in the NHL playing on four different teams is something that is never lost on guys who now play with him on the Wolves, said Emily Polglaze, who covers the team for the Las Vegas Journal-Review.
“Definitely. Prior to coming to Chicago, Pirri hadn’t played a full AHL season since 2012-2013. He’s definitely proven himself at the NHL level, but he’s been through four different teams there, none of which have really clicked. He’s also got a reduced role when he’s there.”
Polglaze, who’s contributed to this site before, also indicated that Pirri and those around him can see an eventual call up to the Golden Knights. Those who play with him day in and day out are especially loving his production totals of 21 goals 23 assists and 44 points through 43 games played.
“I think starting with Vegas from the ground up will be the best thing for him. He’s still learning Vegas’s systems and philosophies, while getting a bigger role and the opportunity to be a leader for Chicago. I don’t see Chicago as a demotion for him, he’s helping Chicago a ton now and is only getting better for when his time with Vegas does come. You can’t complain about a point per game player on your roster, ever,” said Polglaze.
According to Polglaze, Pirri’s experience, his veteran leadership, and his positive attitude make him an excellent role model for many of his younger teammates on the Wolves.
“Pirri has been banged up during parts of the season and had a short break while taking care of a newborn. He’s a veteran player at almost 27, and when this team was new to just about everybody, it’s important to have that. It would’ve been really easy for him to get bitter and despondent about not making it in Vegas, but instead he’s bought in to the system and is working his hardest on the way up, which is a good example to set,” Polglaze explained.
Polglaze even added that the positive approach Pirri brings to the table, has proven to be infectious as his teammates really feed off of that calm focus and confidence that he brings to the table. When the Wolves were struggling early on in the year, he always urged the team to not panic.
“The Wolves have definitely been a special case this season in terms of mentality. The benefit is that they get a great example in their head coach, Rocky Thompson. There’s really no way around it, this team was pretty bad on paper to start the season. But Rocky always seemed to find a silver lining, and that trickled down to the players. Pirri or Tynan or Paul Thompson were always quick to say that the games were still close, or that they were working hard in practice, or that once they could string together a couple of wins, they’d find a bigger streak. Not much later they went on a 14-point one.”
Apart from early season injuries to their goaltenders, the Vegas Golden Knights have been remarkably healthy this year. But should bad luck strike, look for Pirri, who’s can produce and bring the intangibles to get a call up thanks to his productive year with the Wolves.