The Rangers are close to signing free-agent forward Brandon Pirri to a one-year contract, a source said Thursday. Canada’s Sportsnet also reported that a deal appeared to be near. An announcement could come Friday.
Pirri, 25, who was selected by the Blackhawks in the second-round of the 2009 NHL draft, can put the puck in the net. The Toronto native has 49 goals in 166 games over parts of seven seasons, mostly for the Blackhawks and Panthers. In 2014-15 with Florida, he had 22 goals but just two assists, sometimes referred to as “Cy Young-worthy” stats (22-2).
With Anaheim late last season, Pirri scored three goals and two assists in nine games, but did not receive a qualifying offer from the Ducks and became available to sign anywhere this summer. Pirri earned $975,000 last season.
The Rangers have had Pirri, who can play any forward postion, on the radar for several years. The acquisition would add to the abundance of depth forwards, leading to speculation that another deal — presumably in exchange for a defenseman — could happen before October.
As it stands, at least 16 Rangers forwards will be vying for 13 roster spots. One of those forwards, Oscar Lindberg, will begin the season on the sidelines, recovering from hip surgery in May.
The other forwards are: centers Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and Josh Jooris, and wingers Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, J.T. Miller, Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich, Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, Nathan Gerbe, Tanner Glass, Nicklas Jensen and Marek Hrivik. Jensen and Hrivik played in the AHL last season. Hrivik played in five games with the Rangers.