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Pirri Ready to Sign

Schenectady Daily Gazette, August 24, 2010

Pirri Ready to Sign

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, August 24, 2010

When Jerry D'Amigo announced he was leaving Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute after one season to sign a contract with the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, Engineers fans began wondering when, not if, teammate Brandon Pirri was going to make his announcement.

Expect that announcement as early as today.

Numerous sources confirmed Monday that Pirri will give up his final three years of college eligibility to sign an entry-level contract with the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The 19-year-old Pirri was unavailable for comment. Anton Thun, Pirri's advisor, said he had no comment. But a source said the contract should be finalized within 24 hours.

"Brandon has had communication with Chicago, but nothing's been confirmed or signed," RPI coach Seth Appert said. "It's not a done deal. But, yeah, he has been in communication with the Blackhawks."

A Blackhawks spokesman wrote in an e-mail that "when we have news to share, we will issue a press release."

The 6-foot, 170-pound Pirri was the Blackhawks' second-round selection in last year's NHL draft. Before coming to RPI, Pirri had a combined 46 goals and 48 assists for the Georgetown Raiders and Streetsville Derbys of the Ontario Junior "A" Hockey League. He was the league's third-leading scorer.

In 39 games for the Engineers, he was second on the team in scoring with 11 goals and 32 assists, and also had a team-high 67 penalty minutes.

Pirri attended the Blackhawks' prospect camp last month, and was impressive.

"Brandon Pirri had a great camp," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman told blackhawks.nhl.com.

Despite beating the Philadelphia Flyers to win their first Stanley Cup since 1961, the Blackhawks have let several key players go because of salary-cap issues. Thay may give Pirri a chance to make the club.

If he doesn't, he could be sent to Rockford, Chicago's AHL affiliate, or the Ontario Hockey League's Saginaw, which owns Pirri's Canadian junior hockey rights.

"I've had consistent talks with Brandon, Brandon's family adviser and Chicago throughout the summer," Appert said. "Certainly, with the year Brandon had and, more importantly, in Chicago's mind, it wasn't just the year [he had]. It was the buying into the culture of our program, how far he's come in terms of completing his game, the weight room and how much stronger he's gotten. Those are the things that Chicago has been most impressed with, and the things they need to see from him."