Blackhawks News

Bickell & Lucic: Comparing Beginnings Of Big Contract Years

By Joe Kremel
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Oct 26, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) takes a shot during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Bickell contract made a lot of fans nervous, myself included, since Bickell has never exactly looked to be top end talent.  Since the Hawks brought Bickell up, he tended to just blend into the background.  There would be stretches where you would forget that he was even on the ice playing.  He has the size and speed to be a decent power forward, but he just seemed to lack any form of consistency to make you believe that he was going to be a permanent fixture on the roster.  Then the Hawks had their ridiculously successful season and Bickell looked decent.  Next the playoffs came and Bickell played out of his mind.  He earned himself a nice contract since it would be a waste to lose him if he were to continue playing so well going forward.  Bickell’s first few games went poorly, and it made me wonder if it was a sign of Bickell regressing or if the contract was just weighing on him a bit.  Lucic was playing out the first year of his big contract last season, so I decided to take a look at a ten game sample size between these two forwards.  Lucic seemed like a comparable player since they are similar in size, weight, and age, and most importantly, the pressure of getting paid a lot of money.

Goals / Assists

What’s more important to an offensive player than goals?  Within the first ten games of the season, both players scored three goals.  Lucic was deemed to be struggling since his goals per game average went down in the shortened season.  By the end of the year, Lucic was was considered to be underperforming after his pay increase.  That situation was diffused by a solid playoff performance, which quieted most of his critics.  Bickell is right on par with Lucic in the scoring department, but Bickell will need to keep putting the puck into the back of the net.  Bickell has only one assist on the year, though his playstyle has shifted to cleaning up rebounds.  Lucic had three assists by the ten game point to add to his three goals.  Bicks had the displeasure of being dropped down to whatever line Q felt necessary.  In Coach Q’s defense, Bickell wasn’t performing in the first five games, so it’s hard to blame Q for trying to send the message that he needs to earn his money.