One of the Chicago Blackhawks’ most pleasant surprises in the 2013 playoffs was winger Bryan Bickell. The former healthy scratch was thrust into the spotlight after his great playoff performance, and when the media caught on that the 27-year old is going to be an unrestricted free agent come July 5th, it only added fuel to the fire. Bickell is now one of the league’s most desirable free agents.
Stan Bowman, GM of the Blackhawks, has expressed interest in re-signing Bickell. However, he is due for a hefty raise after this season’s performance.
Bickell put up impressive numbers this season, with one less point than in 2012, in 23 fewer games. Bickell dressed in all 48 regular season, and all 23 playoff contests for the Blackhawks this season. He was so impressive because he can package size, skill, speed, grit, and toughness into one package as a player. He may not be the flashiest, or put the most points on the board, but he is never short on effort, and is a great compliment to any players on any given line. He started the season on the Blackhawks’ third line, but by the Finals rolled around he found himself alongside Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, becoming the most dynamic line in the series. He can play quality second line minutes, and that is where he will most likely end up if he chooses to stay with the Blackhawks.
Bickell is currently making $600,000 in the final year of his contract.
That number certainly won’t stay in six figures for very long. Bickell is due for more money come next season, and he will get it, whether it is from Stan Bowman or another NHL GM. All during the playoffs he was praised by the media for contributing so much on small pay, and this boosted his potential salary up through the roof.
Bickell stirred the pot a little on Thursday however, when he said he would take “a discount to remain with the Blackhawks” during the end-of-season press conferences. This is a very good sign for Bowman and the Blackhawks’ front office. Instead of seeing Bickell walk out of the organization for nothing, they can resign him to another deal, and at the very least, trade him down the road if he does not fit in to the scheme of things anymore, something that is not likely to happen.
It is dangerous waters when resigning long-term with players who only have had one strong season, (Fernando Pisani, Edmonton Oilers) but they are waters worth treading for Bowman.
For more Blackhawks conversation, like us on Facebook: Blackhawk Up, and follow us on Twitter: @Blackhawk_Up.