The postseason success of Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell is something that’s been pretty well-documented during these Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’s been an absolute force. But what’s often overlooked is that his strong player, which proved deserving of a new contract, started at the beginning of this season.
Throughout this entire season, at the end of which he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent, Bryan Bickell has been playing himself into a new contract. One could make the argument that the Hawks could have signed him to an extension in February or March and it would have made a world of sense.
Bickell has drawn heavy criticism from fans of the Hawks the last couple years, and has found himself as a healthy scratch on more than one occasion. That came to an end this year. The things we saw Bickell not utilizing in his skill set have been brought out, and he’s been fantastic.
With 23 points in the regular season, Bickell very easily could have reached a new career high for points. He provided a strong forecheck playing with that third line, consistently generating offensive opportunities. Two of his nine goals were of the game winning variety during the regular season. Even better, Bickell finally began using his size to his advantage regularly.
That’s been one of the knocks on Bickell throughout his career. Yes, he uses his size, but not as often as he should. He too often looked for the outside shot, rather than working down around and behind the net. Not the case this year. His strong regular season has obviously carried over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he has taken center stage.
In the postseason, his 11 points are third on the team. His eight goals are tied for the team lead, which includes another pair of game winners. He’s been a physical force, with 47 hits in only 16 playoff games. He’s also shown he can hang with the top line, logging minutes to Jonathan Toews on the no. 1 trio for the Hawks.
We know what this means for Bickell. It means a gigantic raise from the six figures he’s currently making. But what does it mean for the Hawks? While they’re reaping the benefits right now, and likely will continue to do so throughout the playoffs, it might mean that they’ll be forced to say goodbye to the 6’4″ forward.
But that’s not the concern right now. Standing one win away from headed to the Stanley Cup Finals, they’ll worry about the contract of Bryan Bickell’s contract when the appropriate time comes. For now, we can all just enjoy watching a player finally come into his own.