Too often with the Chicago Blackhawks we talk about players that won’t return. Typically these are role players that have found success and are now too expensive for the Hawks to retain in the offseason. Previous examples include the likes of Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg, among plenty of others.
Let’s talk about one who looks like he’s going to earn himself a new contract to remain in Chicago: Bryan Bickell.
It’s quite surprising that we’re talking about Bryan Bickell as an extension candidate now. He’s been one of the more frustrating Hawks to watch over the course of the past couple of seasons. That hasn’t been close to the case at all so far in 2013.
Despite what the numbers may show, Bickell came across as a guy who had size, but didn’t use it often enough. He has a massive frame, coming in at 6’4″ and 223, but often went for the finesse play. We still see some of that, but he’s using his size more effectively than ever this season.
Bickell already has 51 hits on the season. He’s getting to be a presence down around the net, which is exactly where the Hawks need him. One of his two goals against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night came from down in the slot off of a rebound.
That’s where he should live, rather than trying to force a wrist shot from 20 feet away like he loves to do. His wrister is solid, but it’s not good enough to the point where he should be settling for it as much as he was prior to this year.
On the season, Bickell has 12 points in 23 games. He’s a plus-6 for the year. His line, along with Viktor Stalberg and Andrew Shaw, has been an absolute nightmare for opposing teams to deal with. The forecheck they bring to the table is simply incredible, and they’re creating chances that you may not expect from that type of trio.
Even better, Bickell’s salary is incredibly low right now. He’s making barely over $500,000 this season. Even if he sees a significant raise, he’s still going to be extremely affordable for the Hawks. It’s almost a certainty that the Hawks are going to bring him back this season.
It’s just a matter of when they sign him at this point. Getting an extension done sooner, rather than later, would probably be the right course of action for the Blackhawks.