Blackhawks fans rejoice: Pirri gets recalled by Chicago

If you follow any Blackhawks fans on Twitter, I’m sure by now you’ve seen the calls for Brandon Pirri to make his way back up to the big club. Those prayers — of which there have been plenty — have finally been answered.

Pirri, a second round pick by the ‘Hawks in 2009, spent 24 games with Chicago this season, but after an eight-game point drought was sent back to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Now, after racking up four goals and six assists through 13 games in with Rockford, Pirri has earned his call back up to the bigs.

When Pirri was sent back to the IceHogs in December, he told the media that the situation wasn’t ideal, but he had to “play well and do his best and work hard wherever.”

The interview with Hogs TV, which you can see below, is an exercise in Hockey Interview 101.

Winchester back to NHL with Blackhawks

Brad Winchester had a tough time finding an NHL deal when his contract with the Sharks was up in 2011-12, but he’s back in the big leagues.

Winchester, who spent 37 games with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2012-13, has signed a one-year, one-way deal with the Chicago Blackhawks that will pay the gritty forward $725,000 next season.

In the role of agitator and trouble maker, Winchester has found a career. However, last season was his first since 2004-05 when he couldn’t turn it into some playing time in the NHL. In 414 career NHL games, Winchester — a 32-year-old from Madison, Wisc. — has amassed 578 PIM while adding 71 points (38-33). At the AHL level, Winchester’s dressed in 237 contests, scoring 74 goals and adding 59 assists on top of his 464 PIM. 2012-13 was his first full year in the AHL since breaking into the NHL in 2005-06 as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

Lalonde leaves IceHogs, heads to DEL

After spending the last three seasons with the Rockford IceHogs, Shawn Lalonde has decided to ply his trade elsewhere.

Lalonde, a third round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008, was expected to be able to eventually crack the roster in the Windy City, but it never quite came to fruition. The 23-year-old from Ottawa, Ont. instead spent the last three full years — sans a single game with the Blackhawks — with their minor league affiliate in Rockford.

In his three seasons, Lalonde suited up for 207 games in the ‘A’, and talled 13 goals and 57 assists.

Lalonde’s contract, a one-year deal with Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL, will see the defenceman join former AHLers Matt Foy and Casey Borer in Germany.



Blackhawks reach terms with Kostka, Peckham, Leblanc

The Chicago Blackhawks have inked Theo Peckham, Mike Kostka, and Drew Leblanc to two-way deals.

Leblanc, the 2012-13 Hobey Baker Award winner after a stellar season with the NCAA’s St. Cloud St., came to the Blackhawks on a one-year deal at the end of his NCAA season, but when the season came to a close, the ‘Hawks targeted him for re-signing. Stan Bowman, the Blackhawks general manager, had said on numerous occasions that the 24-year-old forward would be brought back, and the result is a two-year deal.

In all likelihood, Leblanc will get the opportunity to get some seasoning in the AHL before he makes the jump to the NHL, if he makes the jump at all. Next season, Leblanc is expected to start with the Rockford IceHogs, and while the terms of his two-way deal have not been disclosed, it is expected he will make somewhere in the $700,000 range in the NHL.

Last season, in 42 NCAA games, the St. Cloud St. captain tallied 13 goals and 37 assists, and suited up in two games with the Blackhawks. Leblanc also suited up in the World Championships for Team USA, registering three assists in six games.

Peckham, 25, is a big bodied defenceman that most will recognize from his playing days in Edmonton. At 6’2″, 216 lbs., Peckham is known for throwing his weight around and his proclivity for dropping the gloves.

Over a combined 307 games in the NHL and AHL, Peckham has registered 804 PIM, and contributed by putting up 56 points (16-40). While he only suited up in 12 games all last season — four in each the NHL, AHL, and ECHL — Peckham comes to the Blackhawks to likely play a swing role between the NHL and AHL.

Kostka, who spent last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, will also likely have a hard time cracking the Blackhawks roster, and could see himself playing a swing role between the big club and the Rockford IceHogs.

In 35 games in the AHL last season, the 27-year-old defenceman scored six goals to go along with 28 assists, putting him at an outstanding point-per-game pace from the backend. Up in the NHL, Kostka was a revelation to begin the season, but slowly tapered off, sometimes drawing the ire of Maple Leafs faithful.

In his 35 games in the NHL last year, Kostka posted eight assists. In his career, Kostka has played 365 AHL games, registering 44 goals and 150 assists.


Beach and Brookbank back in Rockford

Wade Brookbank and Kyle Beach will be back with the Rockford IceHogs next season.

Brookbank, who has spent the last three seasons with the IceHogs, signed a one-year AHL deal with the team this afternoon. The contract will see the towering defenceman back on patrol for the IceHogs for at least a portion of next season.

Over the past three years with the team, Brookbank, 35, has only suited up for 101 games with the Blackhawks top affiliate. Over that time, the tough guy has only contributed three goals and five assists, but has racked up a mind boggling 287 PIM over that same span.

Brookbank’s AHL career, which spans over 11 seaons, has seen the 6’4″, 220 lb. defenceman suit up with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Binghamton Senators, Milwaukee Admirals, Binghamton Senators, Manitoba Moose, Providence Bruins, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Albany River Rats, and Norfolk Admirals. I suppose you could call him a journeyman.

In total, Brookbank has played in 443 AHL contests, tallying eight goals and 29 assists.

Beach, who signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Blackhawks, was a first round draft pick of the club back in 2008.

He’s never cracked the Blackhawks lineup, but Beach has appeared in 167 games for their AHL affiliate in Rockford, tallying 40 goals and 35 assists, and amassing 418 PIM over that time. While he may have, at one time, been viewed as the top prospect in the organization, Beach has been long surpassed by the likes of Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri. However, Beach is still a useful player at the AHL level, and if he continues to develop he could — eventually — see some NHL action.

Blackhawks and Stanton reach deal

The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to terms with Ryan Stanton on a one-year deal that will bring the IceHogs all-time games played leader back to the ‘Hawks top affiliate.

Stanton, who will be entering his fourth season with the IceHogs, was an alternate captain for the Blackhawks farm club, and the blue liner comes back to the Hogs after a 25 point season.

At 6’2″ and 205 lbs., Stanton has good size and EliteProspects praises his game, saying he has the ability to play effectively in all three zones without putting defence on the back burner. Over the past three seasons in the ‘A’, Stanton has appeared in 222 games with the IceHogs, registering 60 points (9-51).

Before joining the Blackhawks organization, Stanton spent four seasons with Moose Jaw of the WHL, appearing in 242 games, tallying 19 goals and adding 83 assists.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it is a two-way contract.

Jordan Hendry signs in DEL

According to a Straubing Tigers release, the team has inked defenceman Jordan Hendry to a one-year deal that will see the 29-year-old spend next season in Germany.

Hendry, who spent last season with the Anaheim Ducks organization, played 62 games in the AHL last year with the Norfolk Admirals. While with the Ads, Hendry had two goals and nine assists in 62 games. While it may seem like ancient history at this point, Hendry was a member of the 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup team, and played fifteen games in the playoffs during that run.

Unable to get back to the NHL for any extended period of time since then — Hendry has only played 39 NHL games since 2009-10 –Hendry spent a year in Lugano of the NLA in 2011-12 before coming back to North America for a shot with the Ducks.

The Nokomis, Sask., native did suit up for two games with the Ducks this season, but was not re-signed by the team. In 277 AHL games, Hendry has put up 13 goals, 39 assists, and added 273 PIM.

(Cover photo courtesy Bridget Samuels)