Blackhawks, Bryan Bickell Agree To 4-Year Deal

bickell cup

After trading away Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik during the 2013 NHL Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks signed forward Bryan Bickell to a four-year, $16M contract.

Sunday was a busy day for the Blackhawks, who made three trades inside the first four rounds of the draft and successfully added picks in the second and third rounds as part of the trades involving Bolland and Frolik.

The cap space opened up by moving two important pieces to their 2013 championship was used quickly to keep Bickell in-house.

For Bickell, the $4M cap number is a huge raise; his last contract was barely above the league minimum. The 27-year-old will now be expected to play like the power forward that dominated at times during the playoffs and not the player that had four points in three months during the 2011-12 regular season.

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76 Responses to Blackhawks, Bryan Bickell Agree To 4-Year Deal

  1. smitty says:

    Seems like a lot for a guy who has a history of not showing up for every game. He is going to have to play every game like he did in the playoffs to justify those $. Someone said Bickell would get a GM fired. Surely it won’t be SB!

  2. Dickie Dunn says:

    “Market Value”… — Tab?

  3. Cam says:

    Didn’t Chris Kunitz just sign with the Penguins for 3.5-3.875M per year over 4 years? Sounds like the going rate, but hopefully Bicks answers the call and Q shows some commitment and plays him on the top line with 19 and 88 regularly. The playoffs showed us what Bickell CAN do. Let’s see him do it.

  4. BigSmokeJ says:

    The more I’m thinking about this the more I get worried. 5mil for a guy who has never scored more the 20 goals in a season is a big gamble. I hope Stan in correct and from now on we see the playoff Bickell.
    But I’ll trust him.

  5. Pete says:

    I’m not nearly as worried. The concern is for players that can get it done in the regular season, but can’t get it done in the playoffs. (not the other way around) If you can get it done in the playoff’s when it counts and its the most competitive, then you can get it done in the regular season.

  6. BigSmokeJ says:

    Cam yes he did. But he’s been a 50 point player, Bickell has never even been a 40 point player.

  7. Peter says:

    It is higher than I expected, but that probably means the open market had some pretty ridiculous numbers maybe 4.5 or even 5. I think that is the only way Bowman stretched this to 4 million a year.

    Here is what I will say about Bickell. He played big when it counted and got himself a nice raise for 2 months worth of work. He also took advantage of an opportunity to get to the first line. Part of this money is Bowman thinking what he can do with top 6 minutes and or what Toews can do for him. I will say this and this will sound like justifying this money. I do not think Bickell’s game has changed from the stand point of this is what we have always seen from him. Bickell’s success rate got higher doing the things he has always done. IMO this indicates he is putting it together. He played well with Shaw and Stalberg all year and they had good chemistry. When he got shifted to the top line, he went where there was open space and also helped create some for 19 and 88. His shot has always been there, it just found the back of the goal a little more. Again, the money is high and his success from the playoffs came from nowhere, but he was doing the things he has always done…I equate this to be being a little different than Big Buff because Buff came from nowhere doing things no one knew he could do, meaning Stan didn’t know if it was sustainable. Bowman must think Bickell will create some space and give him 20-25 goals a year in Top 6 minutes, which I think is plausible.

  8. Pete says:

    When I crunched the salary cap numbers I had estimated Bickell at 3m. Also, I had them keeping Frolik, but moving Bolland. Even at 4m for Bickell, by moving Bolland and Frolik I think they can still sign Kruger and Leddy if they want to.

  9. RyanDale says:

    If he plays first line his numbers will surely pass his previous highs, but we could also be paying 4mil for a 3rd line guy. Rock meet hard place

  10. Pete says:

    Bowman obviously thought he was worth the money even with the reduced salary cap this year. Also the market value must have been higher as I doubt Bowman would have paid so much otherwise. That means other GM(s) thought he was worth it. On top of that he played huge when it counted against the best possible competition with the most pressure. Translation: its always a risk but it looks like a good risk.

  11. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Bickell was going to get paid, and sure enough he got paid. His size and ability to work in front of the net are critical needs for this team. I’m glad that he’s back even though it was pricey to make happen. He’s a first class player with a great work ethic, so it won’t be from effort and determination that he doesn’t meet the expectations that come from this contract.

  12. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    I’m going to say something controversial. I don’t know if Leddy is worth it. Clendering intrigues me a great deal too. So I’m not going to be upset to see Bowman defer on Leddy and kick the can to next offseason.

  13. Pete says:

    Do you think someone will offer Leddy more than 2m per year? Also, is Rozy coming back as I think he was paid 2m last year.

  14. Negzz says:

    Wow, wasn’t too long ago that many on this site scoffed/laughed at estimates of $4M/yr for 29. I personally thought 4 years at $12-14M was reasonable max, but that’s not the market now. We HAD to keep 29, so despite the larger ding, I am cool with the signing. He showed heart, played hurt, can give/take a pounding and showed up big when given the oppty with 19/88. At these $$ will be playing 1st/2nd line minutes and will be a horse in playoffs.

    Other cuts were not surprise, and I’ll miss Frolik, but have to give the kids a chance to grind and that means pencil in Morin, Hayes or Smith into his slot.. So, with $9.5M left in cap:

    1. Have to sign:
    * Rantaa: $1.4M
    * Kruger: $2.0M (?)
    * Leddy: $2.5M (?)

    2. With remaining $3.6M, will be interesting how we spend/invest it:
    * Keeping Zues as 2C? $2M (as discounted rate)
    * Signing LaBlanc? $1.4
    * Clendening? $900k
    * Stanton? $900k
    * Pirri? $900k

  15. Peter says:

    Rozival is done in Chicago, IMO.

    I think you keep Leddy on a 3 year deal. He is good and it will help that he is around Keith and the other D-Men. Remember when Keith got victimized when he was young. It takes time for D-Men to consistently get it, especially when they are slightly smaller. He played well during the regular season, he will get better. I think he has to stay or you are going to work in 2 “rookie” defensemen and Brookbank in the bottom 2. We just saw what happened when the ice time was spread evenly throughout the season. The upticks in the playoffs could happen because these D-Men were rested. They weren’t as spent as Suter or Chara. You have to be able to trust your D-Men…don’t you trust Leddy more in the bottom two than anyone else we have besides spending unnecessary money or Rozy?

  16. Peter says:

    I will admit, I typed my post only slightly to prove Pete and Peter are two different people…

  17. Pete says:

    Yes we are diffierent although I really haven’t disagreed with you. Does anyone think that Mayers may stick around at the minimum to help with the salary cap and give room for Bowman to bring up/in players later in the season under the cap. I would think there is some value there in a player that would do that and play once every two weeks. Just a thought?

  18. Peter says:

    What about Matt Cullen on a cheap one year deal for 2C/ backup. I really thought he was excellent during the Wild/Hawks series

  19. Pete says:

    I have to admit I really don’t understand the details of how the salary cap works. For instance, take McNeil in Rockford who was a first round pick. I believe he makes around 950k. So if halfway through the year they bring him up to the hawks is it a new “nhl deal” or do they pro-rate the 950k and apply it to the Hawks cap. Thats why I suggested Mayers or someone like him at the minimum, because then maybe you could have them on the team filling the roster spot for a while at a lower salary and then bring in higher paid players later in the season at a pro-rated amount and fit it under the cap. I remember Bowman shuffling players back and forth from Rockford two years ago and I thought he was quoted as trying to save room under the cap as part of that strategy.

  20. wall says:

    Tab – who is crazy now???

  21. EbonyRaptor says:

    Probably most Hawk fans, including me, thought when Bickell said he would give a hometown discount, it would probably be under $3.5M or maybe even under $3M. But then none of us know what the open market for Bickell would bear. Maybe some GM would have paid him $4.5M or even $5M, making the $4M cap hit a hometown discount after all. Guess we’ll never know.

    But what we do know is that while the $4M cap hit looks kinda high right now, it may look pretty good in a couple years if the Bickell we say in the playoffs is the Bickell we see moving forward. Similar to the $3.5M contract that Hjalmarsson signed three years ago, what appeared to be an over payment has since turned out to be a pretty good deal for both parties. And continuing the Hjalmarsson comparison, he didn’t live up to that contract the first couple years but was a big piece of the Cup winning team this season where his play was certainly worth his contract.

    I guess the moral of the story is that the front end of a contract can seem high but by the middle to end of the contract it can actually be pretty good for the team. But, of course, it all depends on how well Bickell plays. If not right out of the gate, then at least eventually.

  22. Tab Bamford says:

    @wall – Yes, Bickell got paid.

    In 2007, Nathan Horton (22 at the time) signed a deal w/ a $4M cap hit. He had 59 goals in the two previous seasons.
    In 2012, Wayne Simmonds signed a deal w/ a $3.975 cap hit that begins this fall. He’ll turn 25 this summer, and has 82 career goals.
    In 2013, Bryan Bickell (27) signs a deal w/ a $4M cap hit. he has 40 CAREER GOALS, and has never averaged more than 14 minutes per game.

    I trust in Stan Bowman; I have defended him more than most. But the dollars he gave Bickell today will have me scratching my head until I see a full season of Bickell as a top-six power forward.

  23. Travis says:

    Pete- there are two types of contracts: one-way and two-way. Two-way contracts pay a player one salary if they are playing in the AHL, and another if they are playing in the NHL. One-way contracts pay a player a fixed salary regardless of where they are playing.

    Olesz and Montador were on one-way contracts, so they were paid millions despite being in the AHL. Under the new CBA, their contracts would count against the cap; teams can no longer bury players in the minors to circumvent their cap hits. That’s why Bowman bought those two players out.

    Players with two-way contracts have their NHL salary count against the cap, but not their AHL salary. In other words, two-way contracts only count against the cap when the player is playing for their NHL team.

    Hope that clarifies things.

  24. Travis says:

    Tab- completely agree. I’ve loved most of Bowman’s moves, particularly the ones he didn’t make (free agency is far too expensive to be sustainable in the cap era). Screw Suter and Parise at those prices.

    Bowman knows much, much more than I do, and I won’t hold this signing against him, but this is the first move Bowman’s made that I’ve disagreed with. I wouldn’t have offered more than $3.25M.

    However, I like the other moves (Bolly and Frolik for picks), and I like the message that Bickell’s signing sends: work hard, produce, and this organisation will treat you in kind.

  25. Travis says:

    Pete- to finish that last thought, you were right that Bowman shuttled players to and from Rockford to get around the cap. Ben Smith was a notable example. Saad is another. He’s on a two-way contract. He gets about $900k, and if he’s playing in the NHL, it counts against the cap.

    Andrew Shaw is also on a two-way contract and is paid about $600k when he’s with the Hawks. Say he’s playing in Rockford, not the Hawks. If Bowman wants to save $300k toward the cap, he can swap Saad and Shaw, sending Saad to Rockford and recalling Shaw.

    Does that makes sense?

  26. JS says:

    I think what bothers me even more than the dollars is the years.

    It will also be funny when they have an extra 3.5M in cap space and could have just eaten the last year of Olesz’s contract.

    However, I trust in Stan Bowman (as anyone that has been here around a trade deadline knows), and I will just have to have faith that Bickell figured it out.

  27. Sr. Brad says:

    Well I can share with you all a few things that happened with Bickell today…when the day started, Bowman offered Bickell’s camp a 4 year deal worth $3.75 million per year, and fully expected Bickell to sign, as it was more than what the Hawks felt they needed to pay…Bickell’s agent came back to Bowman with 3 tangible “offers” (although nothing on paper) from teams prepared to give Bick upwards of $5 million per season, and that the best thing for Bryan was to enter into FA this week and allow the Hawks to see the money for themselves before settling on a number…

    Apparantely by noon, both side were resigned that this was going to happen…but Bickell himself contact Bowman and told him “make it $4 million and we’ve got a deal” and that was it.

    Now, is Bickell worth this amount??? IMO in the regular season probably not…but in the playoffs, absolutely yes…so what do you want? If you let Bick go, what do we do? Go FA shopping for a Brian Bickell type when we already have Bryan Bickell? We could have easily paid MORE than $4 million to get this player. Bickell is a known entitity. He is a great team mate, he is a great community member, he is a hard worker, and has no ego…

    I don’t think Bick is going to score 30+ goals next season, I really don’t, but I do fully expect him to be given full PP time and that he will become a constant 20+ goal scorer…and when the playoffs start, he will be a terror for opposing clubs…he is perfect on the 1st line with Toews and Kane, or perfect with Shaw on the 3rd line. You win championships with guys like Bickell, and that’s worth $4 million a year to ensure he’s not wearing another team’s jersey.

    And as Travis said…this signing speaks POWERFULLY to ever player in the organization…work hard for us, and we will work hard for you…IMO a great signing by Bowman.

  28. EbonyRaptor says:

    @ Sr. Brad – yep.

  29. Dickie Dunn says:

    Peter, (and anyone else?) “Here is what I will say about Bickell. He played big when it counted and got himself a nice raise for 2 months worth of work. He also took advantage of an opportunity to get to the first line.” — OK, fine. Now, is it out of line at all to expect Bickell to produce at the HIGH level (“2 months worth of work”) that **earned** him that raise? (…is it 6 times what he was making? something like that?) I thought the same thing – “is it out of line at all to expect…” – when I read how (much) Duncan Keith raised the level of his game during the playoffs…IS IT????

    “Rozival is done in Chicago, IMO. I think you keep Leddy on a 3 year deal.” — I agree.

    Tab — “I trust in Stan Bowman; I have defended him more than most. But the dollars he gave Bickell today will have me scratching my head until I see a full season of Bickell as a top-six power forward.” — what I was saying above!

    Sr. Brad, “Now, is Bickell worth this amount??? IMO in the regular season probably not…but in the playoffs, absolutely yes…so what do you want?” — again, I’m not being a prick, but *I* WANT to see the same effort EVERY* game (* – OK, realistically, that’s not going to happen, but NONE of the Byfuglien MO…sleep-thru 45-60 regular season games – maybe a few games are not up-to-par) ==> welcome to $4 million per.

    I trust Bowman made the right moves (- it’s paid off so far). So long, Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik — Bolland was a GREAT player, but injuries I assume had him playing at 50% or less this season…still, he “went out on a high note”, and Frolik must be given credit for an “A+” effort almost all of the time…unfortunately, he rarely could finish (except for a LARGE penalty shot, or two…)…and was an extremely effective penalty-killer and probably one of the BEST 4th-liners in the league. Good luck to both!!

  30. SouthSideHitMan says:

    At this stage I keep asking myself is Bickell capable of putting up consistant offensive numbers and the answer is I don’t know but I hope so, however having a guy produce in the playoffs is VERY important. 4 million is a HEFTY raise. So I was looking at a former Hawk Troy Brower. The reason I’m looking at Brower as a comparision is they are “similar” players however Brower might have more skill and Bickell might have more strength. Brower makes 3.6 million dollar and signed a 3 yr 11 million dollar contract. As a Hawks fan you just hope Bickell figured it out this season and can continue to produce, but Bolland didnt produce all season and was being paid 3.5 million.

  31. JoeyCollins says:

    Byfuglien just got Bickell paid. Everyone saw how this team regressed, especially in the playoffs, without that large presence up front, and bowman wasn’t going to make the same mistake of letting that guy go again. Personally I think this was about a mil a year too much, but depending on how much the cap goes up these next couple years i don’t think it will hurt us any time too soon.

  32. NJ Dave says:

    If Pirri is the 2C and that’s a big if in my mind), then the Hawks have $9.5m to sign Kruger, Leddy, Rozsival (or his equal), a back up goalie, and maybe Handzus as a 4C. That probably won’t leave much to sign anyone else. Let’s say that left $3m or so…it would only be free for next year. After that Crow will be up for a big raise, Hammer’s deal is up, and they have to prepare to extend Toews ans Kane. So, there is your 2013-2014, and probably your 2014-2015 Blackhawks. Let’s hope all of you Rockford scouts are correct.

  33. Mike says:

    People remember, Bicks only gets $3.0mm next season and $3.5mm the following. Yes it is a $4.0mm CAP hit. However, if Bicks does not perform the next 2 seasons some other club picks up his $4.5mm salary in years 3 & 4. If Bicks DOES perform at a high level he ONLY costs the Hawks $4.0mm in cap space years 3 & 4.

    This is important because the Hawks, like all other teams, are running a business. I think the $4.0mm CAP hit hurts us for only one season. Given the structure, a great business and on ice move by management. BTW, pretty gutsy to call the GM directly. Sounds like his agent is getting paid for nothing.

  34. wall says:

    Nice post Dickie D…

    I think when 29′s camp said he was being offered $5M+… I would have picked up the phone and called Horton to see what he wanted… with the xtra money the Hawks freed
    up – Horton for $5M seems like a better deal. Or are they going to try to keep Rosey- or 25 or make a run at another FA???

    IMO- Pirri only works with very good D forwards to support him- and 81 may miss a lot of time next year w/ Back issue looming… so Zus for 1.5-2M for 1-2 yrs. might work

  35. JS says:

    Wirtz makes such a ridiculous amount of money off of the Hawks that player salary is virtually meaningless. The only thing that does matter is the cap hit.

    Brad- I agree that you win championships with guys like Bickell… but guys like Bickell of 2013. Paying a Bickell 4M has as good of a chance to hurt your team as help your team. Again, I have faith that he’ll bust his ass and score 20+, but he’s never done it before so giving him that money is a huge risk.

  36. Mike says:

    JS, sorry that is incorrect. Operations for the Hawks lost an estimated $7.8mm in 2012-13. Yes, some of that is due to the shortened season. However, the cost of running the teams is far beyond salaries. If it were not, every team would be up against the cap.

    Fear not, however. The Hawks as an team gained an estimated $30-40mm in value by winning the cup.

  37. JS says:

    If you think the Hawks lost money in 2012-13, you are drunk and believe far too much of what you read.

    There is NO WAY those numbers include beer sales, parking, merchandise revenue, advertising, tv money, etc. That is simply lost money on ticket sales. If the Hawks as a franchise LOST money then the NHL needs to fold.

  38. JS says:

    You see, those are the numbers the owners want you to see. Then they cry poor while giving guys 100 million dollar contracts. You think these billionare owners want to run a company at a loss? You think they would? Absolutely not.

    The Hawks filled to 110% capacity this season with some of the higher ticket prices in the league. They also play in one of the largest TV markets. There is no chance they lost money. Think about that. If the Blackhawks lost money, why would anyone ever buy a hockey team?

  39. Peter says:

    Before trading Frolik and Bolland, I thought our roster was pretty much set. Now, I like these moves even more because Bowman is giving himself some flexibility. If we add no one, I believe we have players in the pipeline who can emulate the skills of both 36 and 67…not their experience (and you can’t make up for the Stanley Cup Clinching Goal by anyone until they prove they can do that…However, the Blackhawks still have a player on their roster who has clinched a cup). IMO, these trades make it imperative to resign both Leddy and Kruger. I think that should take 4 to 4.5 million dollars of 9.4 million per capgeek right now. Add in Raanta at 1.4 mill and two prospects for 2 million to complete the roster and the Blackhawks are leaving themselves 1.5 to 2 million for another player or trades. What about flipping Leddy, a couple of picks, and prospects for someone like J. Thornton. The extra space allows you to think about things like this.

    Or as pointed out above, you save this space for the following year (or only take on trades with expiring contracts) to deal with 2 goalies (ouch, both Crawford and Raanta), Hammer, and 19/88. However the cap probably will go up. Regardless, I like the moves because Bowman is giving himself some wiggle room. Moves like this allow you to trade for Zus and not give up a roster player because you have extra cap space. By the way I don’t see Rozy, Zus, or Mayers back. The kids have to get a shot and what better time than after winning the cup. It could be a tough first half of next season and then watch out.

  40. Miroslav says:

    I’m not sure why anyone would think this is a good deal right now. In 220 games he has 90 points. The simple fact is that Bickell has done very little to prove he can consistently play at the level one would expect at his new salary. That is not to say that he won’t produce at that level, he had an excellent post season this year which is a good sign. Bottom line is until he starts producing at a consistent level this deal looks like a huge overpayment. This kind of money says I am a top 6 forward who scores 50-60+ points a year, wins battles in the corners and makes my 6-4 230 lbs presence felt. Until he does that consistently, this is not a good signing…

  41. Dickie Dunn says:

    Miroslav, correct. Agree.

  42. BigSmokeJ says:

    After thinking about the Bickell signing a little more, I’m inclined to lean on it’s not that bad a signing. If you went in thinking that 3-3.5 was a good price for Bick’s then 1mil is all you paid over your initial price. While this year the cap is low in a couple years the cap should be right back up if projects are correct. So in that regards his cost means very little.

    We all knew Bolland was getting moved and a lot said Frolick would be a causality. So losing those two, while it will hurt short term, was something that needed to be done.

    You have guys in Rockford that you need to find out now weather they can stick with the big club and where. As others have stated this is how you build and keep your organization at the top for years.
    The start of the season should be up and down while the young guys progress. That’s ok they need to get their feet wet and ready for the playoffs. By that time they should be ready for a run.

  43. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    As I have said for weeks, 99% of NHL players are not going to give a “hometown discount”. Lets face it, the average career span of a player like Bickell is not very long. This was his one chance to realize a substantial payday and he seized upon it. As he should have. There are a lot of teams with a lot of cap room, and Bickell’s agent fully understood this. And let’s not forget, all these players lost compensation during the lockout and probably aren’t inclined to be “generous” with their league employers.

    I’m happy for Bicks. He’s a first class guy with a strong work ethic. He’ll work his tail off to make this contract look good for both sides.

  44. Andrew Raven says:

    Apart from the Montador signing disaster, this deal will turn out to be Bowman’s worst move. When your role players demand too much money, you trade them for draft picks and prospects. Bicks is not even worth $3million/year and now he gets 4. Yeah, we all know that the open market has its own rules (some GMs erroniously thought Bicks was worth 5million), but Bowman should have taken advantage of that by dealing him to a stupid team who had wanted to sign him pior to July 5, as WSH in Brouwer’s case.
    Such a silly signing jeopardizes the future of our franchise. Bicks will never live up to the high expectations and is not worth 2/3 of Kane’s and Toews’ salary.

    The Hawks should have traded him to the Islanders in exchange for their 2013 1st round pick plus Niederreiter. Seriously, what a dumb decision by Bowman to keep Bickell at any cost. Again: you trade role players away when they approach you with outrageous salary demands. In Bicks case, his market value will NEVER be higher than now. The Hawks could have gotten promising prospects AND draft picks in return, but Bowman didn’t get it. Too sad!

  45. wall says:

    Once again- let’s see what Horton gets… If Horton signs for less than $5.5M- this looks like a questionable deal!!!

    No Way Hawks aren’t making Money!!!

    Brad- who was the guy who refuted my “trade to Jets for draft picks”?

    Lastly- here is my Conspiracy theory… Looks like Most of the Canadian Teams had a strong Draft Day… This should Really Boost the NHL revenue stream nicely!!!
    Leafs, Canucks (like their 1st/2nd picks), Habs, Sens (have shitload of cap space)-
    Wings had a great draft- (will be interesting to see what Brunner/Filpula get)- wouldn’t mind either in a Hawks uniform!!!

  46. Mike says:

    JS, I said that the Hawks lost money THIS year. The fact is fewer than half the NHL teams make money in any year. Wherever the money comes from, salaries are by far a teams largest expenditure. The Hawks are also lucky to be in a rather affluent market.

    It is to your point that player’s salaries are meaningless where we disagree. I think we just went through the 2cd player lockout in less than 10 years. The players did not lock out the owners you know. The owners locked out the players. Yes, the lock out was about more than salaries but salaries were a huge part, hence a lower cap.

    Look at basketball, 12 players on a team with a cap of $58mm. And that cap is so soft teams work around it easily. In Baseball, where teams have 25 rostered players, the hapless Cubbies have a payroll of $104mm. If salaries did not matter, why is the cap so low??

  47. ADR says:

    So, if this is $4M per year to have a power forward to ‘protect’ kane, toews, hossa, sharp then it seems like a decent investment. Q has been looking to put an enforcer in the top-6, he started Carcillo up there at the begining of the season.

    If this is $4M per year in hopes that his offensive numbers will increase significantly, I doubt that will happen.

    What do you guys think this means for Saad and Sharp in the lineup? Presumably if this means Bick is playing top six. Do you think this means Sharp will play 2C? Do you think this means Saad will be on the 3rd line? I don’t mind Saad playing on the Third line for now, but I hope he develops enough as a player to solidify himself as a top 6 guy before this four year Bick deal is done. 3 guy can’t occupy 2 spots…

  48. EbonyRaptor says:

    It used to be that getting to the playoffs was what “mattered”. The thought being that getting to the dance was the objective because then “anything can happen”. The Hawks have moved past that and set the bar higher than “merely” making the playoffs. The objective is now to actually advance in the playoffs and to win it all. Those are no longer pie in the sky wishful, albeit unrealistic, expectations – they are not only realistic but realized two times in the last four seasons.

    So what does that have to do with the resigning of Bryan Bickell to a salary that some deem too high? Everything in so far as where the Blackhawks are as an organization. The rationale used to criticize the “overpayment” is that while Bickell played well for two months in the playoffs, he hasn’t shown he can play at that level during the regular season and hence isn’t worth $4M per. But that is outdated thinking, and that’s the point. Will the Hawks miss the playoffs if Bickell only scores 17 goals like he did in 2011/12, or even only 9 goals like he did in 2011/12? I think most would answer “no”, the Hawks still have a good enough team to be one of the top-8 teams in the Western Conference. The Hawks, and their fans, no longer have to hope that somehow the Hawks find a way to scratch and claw their way into the 8th seed. The expectations are higher than that. Now, what the Hawks “do” in the playoffs is the question to be answered – not whether they will get there or not.

    And that is where the signing of Bickell is a good move, even for the seemingly too high $4M. Using Bickell’s history as evidence that he doesn’t do enough in the regular season should then also be used as evidence that he raises his game when it matters most – in the playoffs. His regular season scoring is only at .41 ppg, but his playoff scoring is .63 ppg. He plays better and is more productive when it matters most, and based on where the Hawks are as a team, Bickell will be worth every penny of the $4M if he steps up in the playoffs, even if he isn’t worth $4M during the regular season.

  49. Peter says:

    ER, I’m inclined to think like you. I don’t want a Dustin Penner situation on our hands, but I believe Bicks will be better.

  50. Gou says:

    Excellent banter as always.

    You have to trust Stan and money management for the future. Big signings coming up over the next few years.
    Agreed with Buff giving Bicks his raise. It is easy to complain about his numbers to date, but lets see what those numbers are after a season or two on a line with 19, 88.
    Rosey has to stay. Big D man that plays smart in his D zone.
    As mentioned several times, the Rockford kids have to come up. Smith will fill in nicely. Kid has a nose for the net and finishes, unlike 67. (I wish him nothing but the best in Winnipeg though.) smith almost got us through Vancouver a couple of years back. If he doesn’t get a cheap shot in the preseason against Detroit, he would’ve been on the roster for the last 2 years. He earned his due.
    Biggest difference this year is there is no need for a major house cleaning to survive.

  51. Tre says:

    Can’t help thinking that this is going to be a deal that Bowman is going to regret.

    After the 2010 cup run, I hoped he would fill Byfuglien’s role. Turns out he did that better than I could have planned–as a guy that plays a dominant game sporadically.

    He deserved a big raise (I think he was only making about $500,000 the last few years), but $4M for 4 years is more than he deserves looking at his overall stats.

    I get the feeling that he will linger as a 3rd or 4th line guy that makes too much. I really hope he proves me wrong.

  52. Montana Blackhawk says:

    All,

    Don’t forget the impact Q has on these guys. The most wins in the playoffs for active coaches. I believe Q has a way to get in these guys heads when needed. We all know you don’t need to win the presidents trophy to win The Cup. Q is the one to not let go!

  53. JS says:

    Hawks have done pretty well with 4th line guys that make too much money.

    Mike- The cap is so low because the owners want more money. They are the ones blaming the players for making too much and then giving the GMs the ok to sign them to these giant deals.

    I know the article you are referencing, but I don’t believe it for a second. I’d like to see the actual books but they wouldn’t even let the players see that during the lock out. If so many teams in the NHL are losing money, what the hell is the purpose of the NHL? Why not prove this to the players by opening the books instead of just locking them out forever and fighting over nothing? And the NHL wants to expand? What is the purpose of expansion if you don’t even have enough healthy markets as is.

    I don’t believe it.

  54. Tails says:

    @Montana: Q has the most playoff wins (88) because he has the most playoff games coached (162) out of active coaches (54.3% wins). That’s compared to Babcock who has 78 wins in 131 playoff games (59.5% wins). Of course, there’s a reason Q has coached so many playoff games. He has the 10th all-time highest points percentage at 61.2% (5th out of active coaches) in 1211 regular season games, the most active and the 10th most all-time.

  55. BigSmokeJ says:

    Very good points ER. The mindset of this organization has changed 180 degrees and its referencing to see, “for us that went through the dark days”. Looking at what some guys are being signed for Bick’s cost was not that out of left field. The Cap’s just signed 35 yr ago Zubrus for 9.3 over 3 yrs.
    Also you can’t look at this by saying he’s costing the hawks 4 mil, because they were going to give him 3 mil. He’s only costing them 1 mil more then they wanted. It took 3 yrs to find a player to take Buf’s place and now that they pony up, people are jumping all over them for it. I know I was one of them at first.
    I think it’s a good signing. It won’t hurt the team going forward with the cap, because the cap will move up when they need to sign 19 and 88.
    And as ER stated they have a proven playoff presence. Plus I don’t think Bick will let himself go the way Buff has done. They are completing different people.

  56. Tim G says:

    Ok… So i wanted to let it all set in before i posted.

    In the end, I like the deal.

    I would like it alot more at 3 years, but oh well. The average career isn’t that long and Bicks wanted that job security. Cant blame him.

    He will play Top 6 for the foreseeable future, and who knows, in two years, he might be what Dave Bolland was this year (the old man out in a mathamatical equation who gets dealt for a couple picks).

    My Lineups:
    29/19/88
    10/16/81
    20/65/39 (Hayes)
    13/37(pirri)/28(Smith)
    52/11(morin)

    2/4
    8/7
    27/55(Stanton)
    17

  57. Mike says:

    JS, we agree on one thing, all sports owners are greedy. (BTW, the article I refer is Forbes Mag after the 2011-2012 season. Many NHL teams are struggling). There is enough talent to support 30 teams, however I think the league would be better off with 24 teams.

    The Cap is there because the league wanted more parity. This was pushed by the NHL and the smaller markets to broaden the appeal of the game. The Cubs suck but they have fans all over the country. Baseball has broad appeal. (The Yankees have a payroll of $228mm while the Pirates $45mm.) The Nashville Preds are a good team, but 50 miles outside of Nashville no one, and I mean no one, gives a rats ass about the Preds.

    Before the Salary Cap low salary teams were winning 20 games a year. Smaller markets could not afford big names. Big names did not want to play in small markets. To that end the Cap has been a big success. The era of a 135 point season is long past (and that was before 3 point games). I will admit that the just past lockout was not needed by the Blackhawks, but all 30 team owners supported the lockout. You would think that Chi., NY, Bos, Pitt etc would want the cap as high as possible (success breeds success).

  58. JS says:

    Didn’t you just argue against the point you were trying to make?

    A lot of teams claim to be operating at a loss, but I can guarantee the contracts would jump right back up if you took the cap off.

    Another funny thing about that article, it’s all the Canadian teams that are making the money (them + Rangers), but that isn’t doing a damn thing for them getting a ring.

    Anyway, let’s just agree that Rocky Wirtz is getting richer every year no matter what the Hawks are doing, because that’s a fact.

    And with the whole cap discussion, this is why I’ve been preaching patience for the last 3 years. Obviously Bowman had to blow the team up after 2010 because holy god contracts. Now they are operating the team in the best way possible. You build from within and control the cost of your players. If you think you are one piece away from a run in the playoffs or one of the big guns goes down, you also have the assets to trade to acquire what you need.

    Patience has payed off with 2 Cups in 4 years and what is looking like a potential dynasty over the next decade.

  59. JS says:

    I said payed off. I need a nap.

  60. Sr. Brad says:

    I guarantee you the Hawks are making a large profit for Rocky…and rightly so. The numbers that are shown are for the public…all books are cooked, I promise you this.

    As for Bickell…for those that are actually against this signing, just ask yourself this…after developing Buff, and just getting him to the point of him finding his confidence as a player, and then letting him go…you want to do the same thing with Bicks??? How would you feel half way through next season wth Bickell in NY with the ex-Canuck HC, sitting at 18 goals and NY in first place…and us all commenting that we are too cute and need more of a physical prescence??? Hmm? I don’t hear anyone yapping now…

    The fact of the matter is, we HAD to sign Bickell because he is the kind of player this team’s “stars” need to be able to function out there during the playoffs. Going into game 4, 5, or 6 versus Boston, how much would you have been willing to pay to sign Bicks? Anything? We don’t win those games without Bickell…how much is that worth?

    Bickell was a Blackhawk draft pick and developed through our minor league system, and then moved on our team from the 4th line to a starring role on the 1st line…you have to reward this, because this is what creates championship teams and dynasties…and as Travis said yesterday, it sends a powerful message throughout the entire organization…

    Bowman isn’t taking any kind of risk making this deal…he had no choice, he had to make the deal…and based on what we are all being told Bickell was being “offered” out there, $4 million is relatively cheap.

    He is just coming into his own…he showed up during the most crucial time of the season…he played with a major injury…he was a legit Conn Smythe candidate…he has become the real deal…do you remember the look in Bickell’s eyes after he scored the GTG in game 6??? You want that player on your hockey team.

  61. Gou says:

    Brad, Well said.
    Bickell will payoff over the course of time. We need his size on that line.

  62. SouthSideHitMan says:

    The Hawks believe it or not are NOT profitable, they are about 2 yrs away from being out of the RED. Comcast referenced this fact during the parade, 670 the score referenced it before, but dont worry WirtzCo is a 2 BILLION dollar company so the Hawks profitability doesnt really matter.

    The more I think about Bickell the more I look at the comparable. Number 1 David Clarkson, what kind of deal will Clarkson ink? He is older and more accomplished but only 170 pts in 400+ games. Nanthan Horton also older and more accomplished. 3-4 million is a going rate of a player w Bickell’s skillset. Guess we will have to wait and see.

  63. SouthSideHitMan says:

    According to NHLN Blue Jackets are/will be targeting Stalberg and David Clarkson

  64. JS says:

    I think Horton’s camp said he is looking for $6M. It’s why Boston laughed at him and is letting him explore the market. While Horton is a pretty great player, he’s had a pretty injury plagued career.

    Blue Jackets going after Stalberg makes sense since they have seen 90% of his career goals.

    While I think it’s more money than Bickell should get, I also think it’s great having him on the team if he is going to keep busting his ass like he did this year.

    And again, of course the Hawks are going to say they are in the red. If they told you how much money they are making while they continued to raise ticket prices, people might get upset. The Hawks ARE NOT LOSING MONEY no matter what their accountants tell you.

  65. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Rocky and John McD said straight to our faces during a season ticket holder event last March that the Hawks lose money. They weren’t poor mouthing, but rather stating what they declared as a fact. Hawks have a strategic plan that will allow the Wirtz’
    to realize a modest and sustainable profit within 2 years.

  66. the 2nd Balcony says:

    There was some talk about it taking some time to develop as a power forward in the NHL. I don’t have examples, but am curious about your thoughts on this.

    Bickell, Shaw, and Stalberg had an awesome regular season. They cycled with abandon and won a lot of games for us. Bickell was a key part of that all year. His role in the playoffs was different and he had an incredible playoff run. He showed he can be as physical as you ned him to be. Seems to me he has all the skills to be a value at $4M/

    And there is the confidence part of the equation. Having the playoffs he had will certainly boost his belief that he can be an elite player.

    I gotta say, it’s funny to hear all the hesitation with the signing after all the angst about losing Big Buff in 2010 and how much pain that caused in the short playoff years of 2011 and 2012.

  67. the 2nd Balcony says:

    It is really hard to imagine that the Hawks are losing money.

    If they are there are about 26 other franchises who are big time hurting.

  68. Sr. Brad says:

    I guess the good news if Stahlberg goes to Columbus, is that he may get around our defence and create great scoring chances, but he won’t score…he only did that against Columbus.

  69. Morrison says:

    I love Bolly and Fro, but weather we traded their contracts this draft or not we would have had too in 2014. Bicks contract is fine, even though 3-3.5 would have been better. Its worth every penny of it, because he allows Kaner to play on that line with Tazer & when that line was together, it was better than the Horton/kricheck/Lucic line and that line was best in playoffs until then. Which boston will no longer have again. We will.

    Looking at all of the other top teams, vancouver, pittsburgh and boston are losing their entire 4th line & 3rd pair quality. We will still have Leads & Rozy (or replacement) and Smith is close to Fro, etc. The only thing we wont have similar to what we had is Stals speed.

    So, at the end of the day most of the other top teams are losing their depth and we are going to be able to keep our entire core & depth (because we have similar players in farm/just need experience… and now’ll theyll get it.)

    I am so Stoaked that we ll still have a better 4th line & 3rd pair then most of the other top teams will. We didnt get to keep it all in 2010, now its the other top teams turn to rebuild their depth 4line & 3pair.

    FERRIS BUELLER.

    Oh Yeah… Oh Yeah… Oh Yeah
    The moon… beautiful
    The sun… even more beautiful
    Oh Yeah… Oh Yeah… Oh Yeah

    Beautiful
    Oh Yeah… Oh Yeah…

    Good time

  70. Dave says:

    Bick is worth the money the hit he put on Kronwall in the Detroit series was priceless

  71. AB says:

    Regarding the Blackhawks profitability: I do believe they are not yet profitable. The reality is that the NHL salary cap was higher than the NBA’s. And the NBA is dramatically more popular. They play a similar number of games but tv pays more to the NBA. Also the NBA teams merchandise is more popular. Which tells me that when there are NBA teams in fiscal trouble, then there are alot of NHL teams struggling. Just my perspective.

  72. Sr. Brad says:

    Morrison, that was an incredibly insightful, erudite comment…I concur!

  73. Milton says:

    I think Bowman overpaid Bickell because some other crazy GM with cap space would have given him more.

  74. Sr. Brad says:

    Exactly Milton, and thus Bowman did not overpay…he paid more than you or I would have wished, but less than market value for a homegrown player, that is a true power forward just hitting his stride, with a huge work ethic…its a no brainer…

  75. Miroslav says:

    The question of whether or not Bickell is overpaid should be answered with a very simple question, could the Hawks have gotten the same production as Bickell from someone else for less money? If the answer is yes, then they overpaid. If the answer is no, then they did not overpay. Simple, criteria and end of discussion. Based upon Bickells previous performance, it is really hard for me to believe that the Hawks could not have found someone else who could do the same thing Bickell did, for less money… The ONLY WAY this is not a bad signing is IF Bickell outperforms his previous production by a long shot. If he is anything close to the numbers he has put up thus far in his career, the Hawks spent WAY to much money for him. Based upon his previous performance, this is a horrible deal. It may turn out that this was a good signing, if Bickell performs, but right now, it isn’t.

  76. Mike says:

    You can also consider that Bickell is entering the prime of his career. His contract runs at age 28-32. He has matured as a player and knows his role. I believe you will see him work harder to prove he was worth the investment.

    He is the perfect compliment to play across from Kane, as Morrison said. Toews can hold his own whoever he plays with, Kane can not. Hopefully Q sticks with that as a line unless they don’t perform. What a luxury to have T&K play together. Really speaks to the Hawks depth. I hope they come up with a 2c solution. Hawks also need to build a responsible 4th line. If they can…

    29/19/88 could be top 3 in the NHL
    10/?? or 16 or 37/81 What if Hawks could find that 2c
    20/65/28 OMG, best 3d line in the NHL ????
    11/16 or 37/39 I like it but Kruger will be handling the back end ALOT. BUT if they can cycle and hold they would be OK.

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