The Blackhawks might sit near the top of the NHL still, but their two ugly losses on Friday and Saturday nights had the appearance of the team taking a step backwards.
When the season began, one young player the organization was looking at to step up this season was Bryan Bickell. Through 21 games, however, his game has done little to fulfill those expecations. With his production being non-existant and his ice time shrinking, are Bickell’s days in Chicago numbered?
Here are Bickell’s stats through his 20 games played:
- 42 hits (tied with Daniel Carcillo for team lead).
- 7 giveaways.
- 29 shots on goal (10th on the team).
- 5 points (tied with Marcus Kruger for 14th on the team).
- -8 rating (worst on the team).
He hasn’t registered a point yet in November, and is minus-five with eight penalty minutes in the month. His ice time has clearly indicated that he is losing favor with the coaches as well. Bickell played 15:29 on Nov. 3, but has skated 10:35 or less in five of eight games since (including less than 10 minutes in Calgary and Edmonton).
Last year, Bickell had a surprisingly productive season that appeared to make Troy Brouwer expendable. He posted 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) and 178 hits in 78 games. With a reasonable cap number (under $900k), Bickell appeared to be on the verge of becoming one of the better bargains in the NHL.
But he hasn’t been.
He’s been a ghost.
For the sake of comparison, Viktor Stalberg has points in six of ten November games, including a stretch of five straight that was broken in Edmonton. His ice time has also bounced up and down in November, but never lower than the 11:31 he skated on Saturday night. Absolutely his production has benefitted from skating with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, but he has been more consistently aggressive than Bickell this year.
For a 25-year-old coming off a season with just under 40 points, there is still hope that Bickell can turn his ship around. But with Ben Smith with the Hawks now and Michael Frolik (hopefully) coming back from injury soon, coach Joel Quenneville will have to sit someone.
If ice time is any indication, Bickell’s days in the lineup may be numbered. Could his days with the organization be short as well?