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.
Jul 7, 2015, 5:19 PM EDT
The doctor, Kozlov, allegedly has a suspected head injury.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:07 PM EDT
Backes and Schwartz have one season left on their contracts.
Jul 7, 2015, 2:38 PM EDT
Was most recently an assistant under Randy Carlyle in Toronto.
Jul 7, 2015, 1:09 PM EDT
Coming off a 37-goal season.
Jul 7, 2015, 1:08 PM EDT
“He’s a reliable depth forward who we know is capable of contributing offensively at either level.”
Jul 7, 2015, 12:41 PM EDT
It’s been a long negotiation.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:59 AM EDT
Stepped in to play the final four games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:41 AM EDT
Milwaukee is trying to get a new arena built.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT
Jarmo Kekalainen brings a local boy into the organization.
Jul 7, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
“He’s obviously a great talent.”
Jul 7, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
In ESPN’s The Body Issue, of course.
Jul 6, 2015, 11:22 PM EDT
“It happened pretty fast. All of a sudden two fingers are not working.”
Jul 6, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
25-year-old defenseman struggled mightily last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
Connor McDavid’s running mate in Erie was the OHL’s leading scorer last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT
Quebec City and Las Vegas have already expressed interest.
Jul 6, 2015, 6:08 PM EDT
Russian forward is coming off a solid rookie campaign.
Jul 6, 2015, 5:48 PM EDT
It’s now a crowded crease in Edmonton.
Jul 6, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT
For the third straight year.
Jul 6, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT
That’s him in the blue shirt, standing next to ex-NHL goalie Dan Cloutier… who is 6’1.
Jul 6, 2015, 3:13 PM EDT
Spent last year with Colorado’s AHL affiliate.
- Big money: Tarasenko signs eight-year, $60 million extension with Blues 64
- Blackhawks extend TVR through 2017-18 3
- Good start: McDavid scores five in Oilers scrimmage 29
- Caps ink Kuznetsov to two-year, $6 million extension 9
- Bruins sign three — Hayes, Connolly, and DeFazio 12
- Babcock expects Kadri to be ‘an elite player’ 15
- No expansion bid expected from Kansas City 37
- Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million 17
- Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension 12
- Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA 15