Bryan Bickell May Finally Leave The Chicago Blackhawks. But For Where?
This may not seem like surprising news, but the Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly trying to move Bryan Bickell once again. He’s on the last year of his four-year, $16 million contract, and with the NHL salary cap potential going down next season and the Blackhawks looking to improve on a first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs exit, moving Bickell’s contract at this point is almost a necessity for General Manager Stan Bowman.
Of course, no one wanted Bickell last season when Bowman tried to move him, outside the aborted trade attempt right before the 2015-16 season with Edmonton that involved defenseman Nikita Nikitin. And that’s what Teuvo Teravainen‘s name has shown up alongside Bickell’s in trade discussions.
Teuvo is due for a new contract after next season, and the Blackhawks can hardly afford to re-sign anyone at this point. While Teuvo projects to be a key replacement piece in the core as guys like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa age out, the Blackhawks may be fearful of him costing too much in the future, and they may think they have a replacement for him in the minors right now.
At any rate, they know Teuvo is ample incentive for someone to take Bickell’s contract, because the idea of moving Bickell wouldn’t include the Blackhawks eating what’s left of his contract. That’s what Teuvo (or anyone else thrown into the deal) would prevent. But Teuvo is a very young, able-to-be-developed guy with potential that plenty of rebuilding teams would love to obtain, even if that means taking Bickell’s contract, too.
So let’s say Bickell and Teuvo are a trade package the Blackhawks are intent on moving. That’s no guarantee — it sounds like only Bickell is a guarantee to move at this point — but we’ll just say these two are going somewhere new together. Where would that location be? I’ve got five ideas.
The Bruins are in a weird spot after falling apart down the stretch in the regular season. They have nine regulars, plus some fringe regulars/minor leaguers, who need a new deal next season. Not all of them are going to be in the cards (Loui Eriksson), and Boston may be looking for a change in scenery after its implosion. With coach Claude Julien for some reason being kept around, that means changes are probably coming on the ice.
Teuvo certainly wouldn’t have fit into the model the Bruins have aspired to live by in recent years (Tyler Seguin was dumped for that reason), but Bickell certainly would. The Bruins still remember him netting that game-tying goal in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, and they also remember he’s a big dude who could hit some stuff, something they love over there.
Teuvo could also be a great guy to put alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, if they felt so inclined. With some guys certainly not being re-signed in free agency this offseason, the Bruins could make room for Bickell and Teuvo.
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This team is on the upswing but still missing some pieces to be a legitimate Stanley Cup Playoffs contender. I’m not sure Bickell and Teuvo would be the missing pieces they seek, but maybe they feel those two would help their situation.
Like the Bruins, they have a ton of free agents (15 among their 2015-16 regulars), and some of them are pieces the Blackhawks are familiar with — Jiri Sekac, Viktor Tikhonov and Klas Dahlbeck. Before these guys and others go to free agency, the Coyotes could get creative and work out a deal for Bickell and Teuvo.
Arizona also has ample draft picks, something Bowman covets, and the Coyotes have plenty of cap space on top of that. They’d probably love having a guy like Teuvo and would tolerate Bickell coming along for the ride.
Well, if they were willing to bring Bickell over for Nikitin last year, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t consider doing so again this year. Teuvo being involved (or most anyone else, for that matter) would just sweeten the deal.
The difference between Edmonton and the two teams prior is the Oilers don’t have a lot of high-level free agents to re-add this offseason. While what this team really needs to improve on is defense and goaltending, they may think adding these two guys will push them toward a return to the postseason. They would likely have the room to add both, if they move at least one person the other way, and there’s always those draft picks.
New York Rangers
I would say this is more of a longshot, but the Rangers have a lot of decisions to make this offseason. After falling apart spectacularly early in the postseason, they may be looking to make some changes while looking toward the future. Dealing with the Blackhawks here might address that.
They certainly know there’s quite a bit they can get out of Teuvo, but maybe they think they can get something out of Bickell as well. His style suits the Eastern Conference a little better than the Western, and the Rangers don’t shy away from suspect contracts.
The thing that’s tough here is the Rangers don’t have a ton of NHL-level guys they can move or who the Blackhawks would be super interested in. Maybe the Rangers could offer a sick package of younger guys and/or draft picks.
The Panthers aren’t that far away from making a lot of noise in the postseason, but they’re also close to seeing their window shut in a major way. Roberto Luongo and Jaromir Jagr could retire any time now, and while the Panthers have a youthful core, those two are huge parts of any success Florida has right now.
They could see Bickell and Teuvo as pieces to help put them over the top in their quest to advance in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Outside Jonathan Huberdeau and Jussi Jokinen, Florida is kind of weak on the left wing. And Teuvo could be used almost anywhere. Plus, the Panthers have plenty of youth that would be intriguing to Bowman and Co.