Player Eval: Bryan Bickell

Bryan Bickell has success written all over him. He is large, pretty fast when he wants to be, has good hands when he wants to, and a pretty wicked wrist shot. He seemed to carry that Big Buf mentality from time to time and even looked like a possible replacement for the big space shipped off to Atlanta. You know the mentality I speak of right? The way he seemed to hide in backdrop and every once and while decide to score all by himself. Bickell also had a damn good shot at rookie of the year for an early stretch of the season.

We could probably chalk off whatever kept him from staying consistent to the same factors that we use as excuses for everyone else last year. Along with Skille, Bickell spent a great deal of time in the Hawk's system, but he seemed to bring a bit more to the table. Much more defensively savvy, I often mistook him for Toews, however rare, whats not to like about that?

Speaking of Buf, Bryan ended last season with about the same amount of points, so maybe he was a good fit for the space left empty and a fraction of the price. This production along with the natural ability to play the body and lay some flat out make Bickell a great buy for next year's extravaganza too. Hell, he should have produced more this past year, Im sure he nets a few more with the confidence gained and hopeful steady line formations I expect to see.

I see him as a nice fit on the Bolland line, though I think he might do well anywhere in the line-up. What I hope to see even more than an additional 3 goals which would put him on the 20 goal scoring list is too increase his physical play a tad. It was just too quiet for many stretches. With the additions already set to add a little fear into opponents around the league, a more aggressive Bickell would be icing on the cake.

The great thing about Bickell is that he had a good year from most perspectives and he obviously has a great deal of room to improve. Not large gains in his game, but little easily obtainable aspects of his overall play. Make a few changes here and there, start getting in front of the net more, perfect that shot a bit more, find some comfort in a strong line that allows him to pass a bit more effectively and there ya go.

Overall, I give Bickell an A-. He could have had a better season that involved scoring above 20 and playing a tad more physical game, but as a rookie that would have earned him an A+. He honestly has it all, which even gave us some highlight reel goals like the video attached to this post which also might have been with an injured wrist.

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  • To quote HH, "when he wants to be". That about sums it up for me. Hawk brass obviously see more in BB than I do. Underachiever comes to mind. Never mind the good hands and the laser wrist shot, for a man his size you expect more—like we did with Buff—in the way of physical play. While 17 goals and 37 points is nothing to sneer at from a third/fourth line player, I'd like to see more bashing/crashing and better board work from BB. He's just too soft along the boards and not as strong on his skates as he should be. Could be he's just another gentle giant, like Buff was, but, this year in particular, with the absence of Brouwer, he'll need to pick up the physical play. He plays too casual and is not a self-motivator.

    Baseball has a term for players that possess all the qualities of an all-star. BIckell is one of those types but somebody needs to light a match under him. Grade C.

  • I'm not sure what to make of Bickell. My frustrations last year with him tended to be the same kind of frustrations I had with Brouwer. He's a bigger body that I tended to expect a little more grit out of. Down the stretch, I think he made himself important to the team and I also think that has a lot to do with why he stayed and Brouwer didn't. I don't think he's better per se, but I think that with Bolland, he's going to create a niche for himself that Brouwer never seemed to be able to do. Hockey is a game of inches, and like Bolland, he was an important inch in the playoffs that might have been just enough to get them over the hump had he played til the end.

    To FF's point though, I agree he needs to stay motivated and be a player that opposing teams think about when he's on the ice. When Buff turned it on come playoff time, he was a freaking monster. But in regular season I thought he had a lot of Meh, nights. Listening to Foley one night, there was a play where I think Ryan Johnson, of all people, came up and took it to a guy after a whistle who was hassling one of the other Hawks. Foley's comment was, "It's never a bad time to stand up for a teammate; I'm just gonna throw that out there" Too often last year, when a guy like Bickell or Brouwer was on the ice, there wasn't that kind of response, nor was there a contemptuous shove out of the goalie crease to opposing players after a whistle.

    I don't think Bickell needs to be a goon, but he needs to be noticeable. I don't think he's a top six guy, right now anyway, but with his skill set, I think he can be a perfect complement to a guy like Bolland and that he can help make that third line miserable to play against. I'm not good at the grade thing, so I'll just split the difference between FF and HH and give him a solid B. LOL

  • "I don't think Bickell needs to be a goon, but he needs to be noticeable."
    Perfect sum, Vegas!

  • I can not disagree with you guys.
    Bickell needs to step it up, but again, it was his rookie season which is where my kind grade mostly stems from. The force is strong in this one.
    On another note: I was talking about Smith today with a fellow hockey player and I can't help but have a giant question mark surrounding him. Many have jumped on his bandwagon and Im just not ready too.
    I see great scoring sense, hell just plain great hockey sense all around, and a great work ethic to go along with it. However, he seems to lack a tad in the "god given talent" area. Just a pondering of the day. Where does he fit into the line-up per se?

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    He may not fit in the lineup at all, initially anyway. With the acquisition of Burnett and the resigning of Stalberg, I'm not sure there's a lot of room up top. He came in very confident and pretty fearless and had a great showing. In the marathon of a season versus the sprint of the playoffs, who knows how he will do. Like I said before, I'm not really a big fan of seeing prospects play on lower lines just to keep them up with the club. Covering injuries is one thing, but I'd like to see prospects get as much ice time as possible.

    If the team plays a little slower but grittier this year, that may play to his strengths. On a playoff team that was not particularly pushing the issue physically, he kind of exploded onto the scene. I imagine we see some good looks at him in pre season, but I"m kinda thinking he starts the season in the AHL.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I think a lot depends on Olesz—the unknown quantity—and whether he stays in the NHL or is sent down and perhaps on Stalberg. I agree that Smith will likely start the year in Rockford. Training camp will have some competition me thinks.

    As for KV. Fourth team in a little over a year about says it all.

  • Thats along the lines of what I was thinking too.

    BTW, how about Versteeg heading over to the Florida Blackhawks?

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