Chicago Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell Impacts League From Draft Day Forward

By Isaak Koenka
Scott Stewart – USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell is the most important draft pick the team has made, including both Stanley Cup Champion teams he was a part of. He could have been a part of The Los Angeles Kings that year. The Blackhawks might have traded his pick in order to get goaltender Roman Cechmanek, or have made moves with The Boston Bruins or The Philadelphia Flyers. They were close to obtaining one of the Russians that year, Alex Ovechkin or Evgeni Malkin.

The Flyers, 10 years later, are still looking for a goalie and cup. The Hawks just won it all, and The Bruins team is stacked despite losing many key figures like Marc Savard and Tim ThomasThe Pittsburgh Penguins were also heavily inspired by a period of growth that began with the end of the 2003 season.

Bickell is a free agent this summer and his performances in the playoffs made him one of the most sought after forwards in his depth chart area. Forbes released their analysis of each players relative value toward their team based on how many points the team earned in an equation involving the age of the recipient. Some people call it a point-share chart. They do the math, and according to them, he is the second most valuable player and highest-ranking skater in the league.

His salary was nominal last season, and this season he will see a new contract. He was making $600k last season but his cap hit was almost three times that. His pay will increase, but no one is sure how much or how consistent Bickell can be.

Ponder what elements make a Stanley Cup contender team: a steadfast defensive core, an elite goalie, skilled hard-working forwards, and you have to figure out a way to keep them from costing the team too much. That is no small feat for an NHL GM. Add along all the intangible factors like leadership, work-ethic and level of committing oneself to a project to succeed beyond expectations. Every piece had to fall into line at the right time. Tremendous amounts of respect and validation are due for every decision made by the General Manager. There was the small amount of luck involved.

The offseason signings of returning veteran and incoming players is a vital step in securing your place as a dynasty team in the league. There is a huge connection between the draft of 2004. The moves made by The Penguins, The Bruins, The Flyers and The Kings all had a great impact on the rest of transactions with each other and throughout the league.

These teams will compete at the highest level for the next few seasons and succeed in the postseason for the next few years. All because of the moves made in the last decade.

Including the playoff campaign of the current trophy holders, The Chicago Blackhawks. Bryan Bickell may have been the most important draft pick/trade/free agent move on either of the past two Hawk-cup winning runs.

Bickell’s timely goals and physical play in front of the net on offense were both on display. In a playoffs where he was skating against a Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, he never thought to slow down, or quit trying to get the puck in the net.

Obviously, he has no fear of the late and dramatic attempts on goal. He doesn’t seem to have any trouble with intimidation, and that kind of heart is priceless.

Is he a true clutch forward? That is like asking if Dustin Penner is any good to Darryl Sutter; a straight answer might win a Pulitzer. Bickell has bounced around the NHL and AHL as a perpetual underachiever. Draft mates David Bolland and Andrew Ladd also were there for the win in 2010, but went on to bigger and better contracts.

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