The Blackhawks cut one of the more impressive players at training camp and one of the more disappointing on Monday after wrapping up preseason play.
Centers Brandon Pirri and Marcus Kruger were among the players assigned to the Rockford IceHogs. Also sent the American Hockey League were defenseman Dylan Olsen, winger Jimmy Hayes and center Peter LeBlanc.
Pirri stood out throughout exhibition play, recording a team-high four goals and five points. With Viktor Stalberg (leg) and Ben Smith (concussion) recovering from injuries, it was thought that Pirri had a decent shot at making the Hawks, who could use an extra center. But it wasn't meant to be. Smith has recovered fast and could practice this week, while Stalberg also has made progress.
Still, he impressed the Hawks.
"[Pirri has] got some skill,'' coach Joel Quenneville said recently. ''He's been a producer his whole life. He sees plays. He's quicker in his game, and he's patient with the puck more than he was. He has a nice finish around the net, so it's been a nice camp for him."
Kruger came into camp with high expectations after being touted by general manager Stan Bowman when he was added to the team late last season. But he failed to stand out in any preseason game. Quenneville said he had an "OK" camp, adding that Kruger needed to work on his strength and quickness. So he was bound for more seasoning in Rockford.
After goalie Alexander Salak was assigned to Rockford later Monday, there are now 26 players remaining on the Hawks roster, including Jeremy Morin and Philippe Paradis. But Morin (concussion) and Paradis are still both expected to be sent to the IceHogs by Wednesday. The Hawks have to be down to 23 players by 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The Hawks are working on signing rookie Brandon Saad to his three-year, entry-level deal. So he will at least start the year with the Hawks.