Bryan Bickell Proving His Value to Chicago Blackhawks

By Sean Sarcu
Bryan Bickell Chicago Blackhawks
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

As the Chicago Blackhawks continue their quest to be the NHL‘s first repeat champion since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings, a familiar storyline is emerging: Bryan Bickell, Conn Smythe candidate.

Bickell’s superb playoff run in 2012-13 ultimately earned him a four-year contract worth $16 million. When he followed up the new deal with a miserable season this year, many fans asserted that Chicago had made an awful mistake, overpaying a “one-year playoff wonder.”

Bickell’s 2013-14 regular season wasn’t as bad as some would have you believe; his brutal PDO suggests he had a terribly unlucky 82-game campaign, and his goals per 60 minutes stat wasn’t really any different than his career norm.

All of that is, of course, largely unimportant. The Blackhawks didn’t keep Bickell around for his contributions during the regular season. He had been one of the team’s better players for three postseasons in a row following Chicago’s Stanley Cup win last June, and Stan Bowman and company banked on the assumption that he would continue to be.

Needless to say, there’s no doubting the Blackhawks made the right move anymore. Bickell has been incredible in the playoffs thus far — even better than he was in last season’s memorable postseason run — and is tied for the league lead in goals. There is little doubt that Bickell takes things to another level come April; he recently said on Chicago radio that if he played the same way in the regular season as he does in the playoffs, he would need to spend all 24 hours of each day in an ice tub.

This version of Bickell is immeasurably valuable to a Blackhawks team for which making the playoffs is a formality. Chicago doesn’t need Bickell at this level during the regular season, and as he has noted, that wouldn’t be feasible anyway. For what he brings in the postseason alone, the annual $4 million investment is unquestionably worth every penny.

Sean Sarcu is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.

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