With some space between my last post that touched on the 2 cards in the Hawks deck that I anticipate great things from next year (if still here), why not turn to the card I am not sure should be held onto. Bryan Bickell is the biggest question in terms of single player performances for myself, if I were the GM. His salary and size are obvious pluses, but is there going to be room for a player who either, just doesn't have it, or might not ever live up to what he has?
First, everyone should go read this article at Cheer the Anthem. It is about Kane, and everything involved in his life these days. I found it entertaining, and was particularly moved by the ending paragraphs.
Back to the topic of Bickell, which is funny now, after reading that Kane article and all.
Lets debate for a moment, the topic of whether or not Bickell has even been a disappointment. He had a fairly permanent home on the 3rd line, and is one of the more defensively minded forwards. He showed well in the playoffs, is effective when he uses his body, and has glimpses of pretty decent skill. He has never been on the chopping block really, besides a brief stint watching from behind the bench (Duh, his name isn't Kane or Toews), but we do forget he is there a little too often (which is what landed him in that dog house briefly).
For a moment, he and Stalberg looked well suited for each other and combined with Bolland to create a difficult line to deal with for other teams. I am sure that many of you saw hope there, as I did. And that's just it. We see glimpses, but nothing really consistent enough to keep around when there are new prospects to fit into the mix, and this was when playing with the same center for most, if not all of the season. How many players can say that? Stalberg was able to create something on all of the lines he saw himself within the season and still watch his numbers grow.
Bickell went from scoring 17 goals, to scoring 9. What makes him worth keeping around is his salary, which is fairly low as is Stalberg's (they are often compared for this reason), but Viktor doubled his goal count this year, rather than slashing it in half. Bryan is paid to hit though. In 71 games, Bickell recorded 128 hits, which seems higher than I remember happening, but still the reason he is still around after all.
And yet, the Hawks sent Troy Brouwer packing while he recorded 261 hits in 79 games last year. Oooops, that was a mistake. Brouwer was also a penalty killer, and seemed more effective in front of the net. Maybe not the smartest move and yet it happened. Can we expect Bickell to stick with so much less given? Okay, Brouwer's salary is more than 4 times higher, so I kind of get it.
The silver lining is that Bickell is cheap, at only about $525,000, but even more that he looked pretty good in the Coyotes series. If I remember correctly, his playoff performance last year was fairly decent as well. So he needs a reason to play hockey, other than his salary. The Hawks could use a guy who shows up when the going gets tough, but is it worth watching a season of invisibility to get there? I also have to add that I have mistaken him for Toews at times (and not only because of his number), because he has moments of powerful skating.
The Hawks happen to really need a power forward. Too bad Bickell waits until May to be that player. Matters are made more interesting when looking at the younger and larger Jimmy Hayes, who looks primed to take Bickell's spot. And that's what it really comes down to for me. The Hawks need change. SB has shown that it will not be a big one, but Hayes in Bickell's spot really isn't. With players like Stalberg and Frolik promising more IMO, and the handful of prospects waiting in the background, I doubt we see Bickell in a Hawks uniform next year.
He could make a strong trade package as well. With all of the recent talks about the availability of Zach Parise in the offseason, and the Hawks being mentioned in the same paragraph, it leaves even less room for a guy like Bickell on the bench. Of course, with the exception of being offered up to another team who could use a 6-foot 4-inch promising forward.