UPDATE: Max Pacioretty has now been added back to the IR list. We have no idea what’s going on.
Good news! The Vegas Golden Knights are getting one of their top stars back.
Immediately following the Golden Knights’ overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings Sunday night, the team activated forward Max Pacioretty from injured reserve (per the Golden Knights’ website) and sent Brandon Pirri down to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves in order to make room for Pacioretty on the roster.
Pacioretty’s injury (lower body) couldn’t have come at a more unfortunate time. Prior to being knocked out of the lineup in Vegas’ Dec. 17 contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the 30-year-old was on a pretty nice run, logging eight goals and 17 points in his previous 16 games.
The return of Pacioretty is likely to give the Golden Knights a significant boost after the holiday break. However, the decision to send Pirri down to the Wolves is a bit of a head-scratcher. Pirri, 27, has recorded at least one point in each of his five appearances with the Golden Knights dating back to last season. In his three appearances this season, he posted three goals and an assist while also logging a stellar 57.29 Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5.
This could simply be a case of the Knights wanting to keep Pirri in action as the NHL heads into a three-day period of inactivity. The Knights do not practice again until Thursday morning as they prepare for their game against the Colorado Avalanche later that evening. The Wolves, however, will be back on the ice Wednesday to take on the Milwaukee Admirals.
Unfortunately for Pirri, though, it doesn’t sound like he’s a player destined for a long-term role with this current Golden Knights team. Following Vegas’ Saturday afternoon loss against the Montreal Canadiens, Knights head coach Gerard Gallant pointed out what likely made Pirri the odd man out in the wake of Pacioretty’s return — his defensive game.
“He’s not a great defensive player,” said Gallant. “He’s gotten better, he’s working harder, but Pirri puts the puck in the net and that’s why he’s here.”
Considering how valuable 200-foot players are to the Golden Knights, it’s possible we may have seen the last of Pirri for a while.