Retaining Bickell remains a priority for Bowman

Retaining Bickell remains a priority for Bowman
June 11, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Bryan Bickell has garnered a lot of attention for his postseason work; he’ll likely garner a nice raise this offseason because of it, too. Chicago general manager Stan Bowman hopes to keep the bruising forward in a Blackhawks uniform.

Bowman talked to about several items on Tuesday morning. One of the biggest topics was Bickell, who has become a standout in these playoffs. For Bowman, keeping Bickell is a priority.

“We obviously want him to remain with us. We’re going to do our best to do that,” Bowman said. “I think Bryan likes it here. He’s made comments that way; he enjoys playing on our team. He’s found a nice role. Certainly the coaches have confidence in him. As a player, that’s something they all talk about; finding the right situation for a player is important. He serves a nice role for us and he’s respected by his teammates. There are a lot of positives for him and we want to bring him back.”

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Bringing him back may require some effort, however. Bickell, who currently makes around $542,000, will definitely be getting a raise. His eight postseason goals, and overall performance, will demand that. And the Blackhawks likely won’t be the only team wanting to add Bickell’s size and punch.

As for the Blackhawks’ salary situation, it will be tight. The Blackhawks’ current salary payroll, heading into the 2013-14 season, is just over $68 million. The cap next season is $64.3 million. Re-signing Nick Leddy is probably another offseason priority. But Bowman said it’s not going to be anything like the post 2010 Stanley Cup summer, when the massive contracts/raises of Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane kicked in for the 2010-11 season.

“We’re in a much better place now than we were at that time,” he said. “We had a unique scenario back then when our three best players were getting significant increases at the same time. We don’t have that phenomenon now. Certainly, we have some players whose contracts are up and will get increases. But when you’re going from $900,000 to $6 million and you have three guys doing that, that’s a really big jump. So we don’t have that.”

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Still, there will be changes.

“We’re not going to bring the exact team back -- but I don’t think any team is bringing the same team back,” he said. “There’ll be some changes, but for the most part we’re in a much better spot.”

Whether Bickell remains a Blackhawk past this season is uncertain. He’ll be courted, he’ll draw interest and he will most definitely get paid. The Blackhawks hope they’re the ones paying him. His work is paying off for them right now.

“It’s been a process for Brian,” Bowman said. “I look back at his career; it’s taken time for him to realize his potential and I give him credit for sticking with it. We’ve worked hard with him. We spent a lot of time over the years developing him and having conversations with him on ways to improve. He’s done the hard work, we’ve worked with him and now we’re seeing that pay off. It’s certainly rewarding for everybody when he’s been able to contribute this way. He helps us in a lot of ways and there’s a lot to like.”