Sep 27, 2013, 8:36 AM EST
“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.
Mar 4, 2015, 2:28 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Mar 4, 2015, 2:09 PM EST
“You can never have too many d-men at this time of the year.”
Mar 4, 2015, 2:04 PM EST
Detroit captain draws in for the first time in four games.
Mar 4, 2015, 1:53 PM EST
Veteran tough guy hopeful to return by the playoffs.
Mar 4, 2015, 12:49 PM EST
Boyle and the Rangers take on Detroit (on NBCSN), Tanguay and the Avs will play Pittsburgh.
Mar 4, 2015, 12:34 PM EST
Just two wins in their last eight.
Mar 4, 2015, 11:56 AM EST
Incident occurred Tuesday night, on Stars defenseman Trevor Daley.
Mar 4, 2015, 11:55 AM EST
“Not the start I wanted or the team wanted, and I’ve got to be better than that.”
Mar 4, 2015, 11:48 AM EST
Anaheim hosts Montreal at Honda.
Mar 4, 2015, 11:15 AM EST
Both were viewed as candidates to be moved at the deadline, but neither got shipped out.
Mar 4, 2015, 10:36 AM EST
“We are very pleased and hope our fans will be, as well.”
Mar 4, 2015, 10:31 AM EST
He’s on his way up from AHL San Antonio.
Mar 4, 2015, 9:57 AM EST
It took him just 68 decisions.
Mar 4, 2015, 9:21 AM EST
The captain is still proud to be a Maple Leaf.
Mar 4, 2015, 8:49 AM EST
Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky are set to debut while Henrik Zetterberg might return from a concussion.
Mar 4, 2015, 8:02 AM EST
Wednesday’s collection of links.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:31 PM EST
Some exciting moments from Ducks – Coyotes.
Mar 3, 2015, 11:02 PM EST
The frequent Islanders hitter has two long-ago suspensions.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:40 PM EST
A truly weird scene for Florida’s goalies.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:17 PM EST
Easy, if uninspired, win for Tampa Bay.
- Video: Isles’ Martin to face hearing for ‘stupid’ knee-on-knee hit 34
- NHL on NBCSN: Reloaded Red Wings, Rangers set to battle tonight 49
- Bernier bests Panthers as Luongo goes from injured (and in street clothes) to back in net 4
- Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul threaten lawsuit after tweet goes to air 58
- Doan: Coyotes rebuild was ‘not my idea, not my ideal situation’ 29
- Video: Kessel says the way Toronto media treats Phaneuf is ‘embarrassing’ 47
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 9
- Rutherford: ‘Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring’ Lovejoy 49
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline 78
- Giordano to have surgery, is ‘done for the season’ 22
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (171)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline (78)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Wings get Zidlicky from Devils (74)