Heading into the 2013 season, Bryan Bickell’s future was uncertain. After a lackluster 2011-12 campaign, Bickell was entering the final year of his contract, and fighting to earn another one with the Chicago Blackhawks. He started off the season on the Blackhawks’ third line, with Viktor Stalberg and Andrew Shaw. Bickell had a better season this year, collecting 9 goals and 23 points, playing in all 48 games.
However, Bickell earned his keep during the post-season. The 27-year old started the playoffs off right, scoring the overtime game-winning goal in Game One of the Blackhawks’ first round series against the Minnesota Wild. Bickell stayed on a great pace for the rest of the year, adding eight more goals and eight assists for 17 points in 23 games. He tied for second in playoff scoring, only one behind fellow ‘Hawk Patrick Sharp. No goal was bigger than his tally in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final, (seen above) tying the game with a little over a minute left, setting the stage for Dave Bolland to score the Cup-winner just 17 seconds later.
Bickell was everywhere it seemed, doing anything the Blackhawks needed to succeed. He used his 6’4″ frame well, laying some punishing hits, and causing a commotion in the crease. He wasn’t afraid to step in to a scrum, and became a force to be reckoned with on the ice. He moved all the way up to the first line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, for a stint during the Western Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final.
The best part about Bickell’s game in 2013; he did all this at the lowest salary on the roster, at $541,667. Hockey analysts were signing Bickell’s praises, driving up the price of a new contract, no matter what team he would choose. He decided to stay in the Windy City, and signed a four-year, $16 million dollar contract.
Those big dollars will have to produce big results. Bickell was a playoff performer in 2013, but he will look for a regular season with the same intensity. Providing there is no slump after that great season, I put Bickell’s over/under at 19 goals, 22 assists.
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