Sep 27, 2013, 8:36 AM EDT
“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Chicago Blackhawks we picked… forward Bryan Bickell.
Let’s be honest. Chicago just won the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons. Expectations are high, but as a team, they could fall short this season and there wouldn’t be a lot of anger or calls for change.
There are players though that are out to prove that they can replicate their personal success from last season and then there are players that will be asked to do far more in 2013-14. Bickell fits into both categories.
Bickell has averaged just 12:39 minutes per game over the course of his career and he didn’t get much more playing time than that during the 2013 regular season, but he had a solid campaign and then took things a step further in the playoffs. He finished second on the Blackhawks and fifth in the league with 17 points in 23 postseason contests.
The timing couldn’t have been better for him because he was set to become an unrestricted free agent, but Chicago couldn’t let their playoff hero go so they inked him to a four-year, $16 million deal. That’s quite a step up from his previous three-year agreement that paid him an average of $541,667 annually.
“[Bickell is] one of our key parts of our lineup now. He’s got to know that going into this season and realize he’s not counted on being a third-line player or a checking-line guy.
“He’s got to do what he did in the playoffs. That’s what’s expected from him now.”
And Bickell seems to understand that.
“I need to have that same mind-set I had in the playoffs all year,” Bickell told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I felt I was focused and really learned what I needed to do to be the player I want to be.”
It’s a lot to ask of Bickell, who had just 67 points in 172 NHL games before the 2013 campaign, but the Blackhawks are taking a significant chance. If he regresses and performs as a third liner, then his $4 million cap hit will look pretty bad on a team that’s trying to make the most of their glory years.
The Blackhawks didn’t want to lose significant pieces of their team like they did 2010. Now Bickell needs to show that they were right to count him among the players that they couldn’t part with.
For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.
Aug 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT
After a solid junior career, hopes to make the Sabres as an 18-year-old.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Last appeared in 10 games with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2012-13 season.
Aug 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 9.
Aug 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They’re in the middle of a rebuilding process.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT
Of course, neither will be wearing a Sabres’ uniform – not yet at least.
Aug 27, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT
They’ve also appointed Don Sweeney as the AHL team’s new general manager.
Aug 27, 2014, 8:28 PM EDT
It matters given that they will start next season with a largely unchanged roster.
Aug 27, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
Ken Holland hasn’t been in contact with him lately, but that will change soon.
Aug 27, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
He hasn’t played for them since 2007.
Aug 27, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT
It’s a two-way deal.
Aug 27, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT
Mr. Hockey still reigns supreme in Detroit.
Aug 27, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
“I haven’t heard that.”
Aug 27, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
“We haven’t defined a process and certainly no decisions have been made.”
Aug 27, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT
Needs to bounce back after last year’s disappointing campaign.
Aug 27, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT
Finished second in the NHL among forwards last year, with 87.
Aug 27, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT
Former Quebec league sniper is gunning for a gig in Detroit.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT
Former Tampa Bay forward was bought out of his contract earlier this summer, following legal troubles.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT
The Red Wings are rebuilding on the fly, but are they assembling a future Cup contender?
Aug 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He’ll enter the second season of his seven-year, $36.75 million contract.
Aug 27, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They have made it to the playoffs for 23 straight seasons.
- It’s Buffalo Sabres day on PHT 10
- Gomez goes full circle by rejoining Devils on tryout basis 8
- Under Pressure: Jimmy Howard 6
- Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha 17
- It’s Detroit Red Wings day on PHT 24
- Under Pressure: Nathan Horton 8
- Will Johansen be the latest Overhardt holdout? 25
- It’s Columbus Blue Jackets day on PHT 17
- Shanahan tasked with ending years of collapses 9
- Looking to make the leap: Peter Holland 1
- NHL-to-Vegas talks gaining steam (68)
- Report: Bruins need to make a trade (61)
- Sounds like San Jose handled stripping Thornton’s captaincy really well (43)
- Fanspeak: Mats Sundin voted greatest Maple Leaf in franchise history (43)
- Fanspeak: Lemieux (stunner!) voted greatest Penguin in franchise history (41)