With the season now finished, I’ll be reviewing the individual performances of Chicago Blackhawks players and giving out grades based on their play during the 2013-14 season. In this article I’ll take a look at Bryan Bickell.
Bickell had a tough time in the regular season, dealing with several recurring knee injuries and at one point admitting he had returned to the lineup too early from one of them. He played just 59 games and put up only 15 points, a disappointing total especially in light of his newly-signed four-year, $16 million deal from the summer of 2013.
Naturally, this failure to meet expectations led to quite a bit of criticism from Blackhawks fans. What they didn’t realize, of course, was that Bickell wasn’t really signed for the regular season. He has been an excellent playoff performer for the entirety of his NHL career, and Chicago was banking on that in extending him.
It would seem that the Blackhawks made the right choice in doing so. Bickell was brilliant against the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild in the first two rounds, and he played well against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals even though his offensive production tailed off. Early in the postseason, he attributed his high level of play to increased intensity, noting that it’d be an impossible task to get through an 82-game regular season if he threw his body around like he does in the playoffs.
It was an up-and-down year for Bickell, but showing up when it mattered most earns him a B.