Once the first month or so of the season passes along, waivers generally present little or no help to the thirty other teams across the league. The first few weeks will generally feature some noteworthy players who just missed the cut, some of which are worth a claim. Whether they are needle movers or can simply plug a hole, there is always some value to be had, all for free.
But as time goes on, the amount of quality players being sent down becomes less and less. Most players with real value aren’t likely to get the boot after having a decent sample size to establish themselves.
So when someone with true NHL talent hits the waiver wire, its no small deal. The latest example of this came Saturday afternoon, when the Vegas Golden Knights waived forward Brandon Pirri. The decision certainly turned heads. Let the sweepstakes begin.
For the Red Wings, who currently sit at the bottom of the NHL in points percentage, they need to take advantage. Due to Detroit’s league worst .381 points percentage, they get first priority in the order of claim for the waiver wire. If they want Pirri, they can have him.
There are plenty of reasons why Steve Yzerman & Co. should give the 28-year-old a chance. Despite having just 1 assist in 11 games for Vegas this season, Pirri is an analytic darling.
Pirri is very, very good; there's no good reason for him to be on waivers. pic.twitter.com/x8dYs7ai21
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 16, 2019
2017-20 5v5 Goals/60 (min. 500 TOI):
1) Auston Matthews – 1.54
2) Viktor Arvidsson – 1.40
3) Brandon Pirri – 1.39
— thomas williams (@nosalaryretaind) November 16, 2019
Over the last few seasons, Pirri has been able to score goals at a strong rate when considering ice time. His isolated impact shows the potential to score at a much higher clip, he just needs more opportunity. Only averaging 12:52 TOI per game, he was pushed down the lineup because of the elite winger core that Vegas boasts.
Detroit’s biggest weakness this season has been depth scoring, so adding someone with the underlying numbers of Pirri makes all the sense in the world. He would be the ideal fit on the third line to help round out the scoring. One potential lineup scenario (when at full health):
A subsequent move to follow would have to be sending another forward down. The most likely would be Taro Hirose, who has been a healthy scratch as of late. A stint in Grand Rapids wouldn’t hurt the Michigan State product, anyway.
The ultimate reward of claiming Pirri wouldn’t be to turn him into a long-term piece. Rather, build up his value and send him off in a deadline trade, either this season or next. See, Pirri is on a very team friendly contract, holding an AAV of $775,000 for the remainder of this season and next year.
Contending teams would pay a pretty penny to add a quality depth player on a deal like that. When you’re a team like Detroit with first claim priority, that can’t be ignored. If all else fails, Pirri can still be waived and either sent to Grand Rapids or claimed by someone else.
The risk is non-existent and the potential reward is promising.
Opportunities like this are how you speed up a rebuild.