NEWARK – As the 2013 NHL Entry Draft began on Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks were biding their time until their 30th-overall selection. But the team’s talks with Bryan Bickell’s representative continue to be positive.
General manager Stan Bowman said Sunday morning that talks are ongoing with Bickell’s agent Todd Diamond, and that things are “looking good.”
“We’re talking, yeah. It’s looking good for Bick but we’re not there yet,” Bowman said. “It certainly hasn't broken down at all. I think we understand where they're at, they know where we're at and we're trying to find a common ground.”
Diamond, via email, said Saturday that talks were “positive and productive” between the two camps. That’s sounding like good news for Bickell, who sounds like a guy who wants to stay in Chicago. Bickell is certainly due a raise after a tremendous postseason; he earned $600,000 this season. He has said he’s willing to take a “hometown discount” to stay with the Blackhawks.
[MORE: Blackhawks face roster decisions with Draft looming]
Meanwhile, there was plenty of talk in the hours leading up to the draft. But Bowman said, from the Blackhawks’ standpoint, that’s all it was as of now.
“They’re sort of all over the board,” Bowman said. “There’s a lot of talking, but not really close on anything right now.”
Bowman’s focus is on bolstering the Blackhawks’ draft selection numbers more than shedding salary. Right now, the team has five selections: one in the first round (30th overall), fourth (121st), fifth (151st), sixth (181st) and seventh (211th). If he can add to that, all the better.
“If we can get a couple more picks today, that would be my goal. I'm not really worried about salary,” Bowman said. “We used our buyouts and we're in a good spot financially. We have five picks; we'd like to try to get to six or seven if we could.”