Blackhawks, Bickell agree to four-year deal

By Chris Kuc Tribune reporter
7:08 p.m. CDT, June 30, 2013

NEWARK, N.J. — General manager Stan Bowman is addressing the Chicago Blackhawks’ future along two fronts Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Along with the Hawks’ five selections in the NHL draft, the Hawks agreed to a four-year deal with forward Bryan Bickell.

The 27-year-old ranked fifth in the NHL and second on the team with a career-high 17 points (9G, 8A) in 23 playoff games en route to the 2013 Stanley Cup Championship. The Bowmanville, Ontario, native ranked fifth in the NHL and paced club forwards with a +11 plus/minus rating.

Bickell registered 23 points (9G, 14A) in 48 regular-season games. Originally drafted 41st overall by Chicago in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, he has tallied 90 points (40G, 50A) in 220 career NHL games.

“It’s looking good for ‘Bick’,” Bowman said earlier from the draft floor a few hours before the selections began. “I think we understand where they’re at, they know where we’re at, and we’re trying to find a common ground.”

Bowman said both sides were interested in a deal and Bickell said recently he would consider taking a hometown discount to remain with the team that captured the Stanley Cup last Monday night in Boston.

“Obviously, I think we want him and he wants to be here, so that’s why I’ve always said I feel good that we’re going to get it done,” Bowman said.

Bickell’s agent, Todd Diamond, said via e-mail to the Tribune on Saturday night that “both parties want to make it work” and he “remains hopeful.” Diamond said Sunday during the draft that he agreed with Bowman’s assessment that it’s “looking good.”

With the first pick in Sunday’s draft, the Colorado Avalanche selected center Nathan MacKinnon. The Florida Panthers took center Aleksander Barkov and the Tampa Bay Lightning nabbed left winger Jonathan Drouin to round out the Top 2. Defenseman Seth Jones went No. 4 to the Nashville Predators and the Carolina Hurricanes picked center Elias Lindholm with the fifth pick.

In the biggest trade of the day, the Vancouver Canucks traded goaltender Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the ninth selection. That sent a jolt of energy through the Prudential Center crowd.

After trading the Hawks’ second- and third-round picks for defenseman Johnny Oduya in 2012, Bowman said he’d like to swing a deal or two to acquire more selections.

“I’d like to try to pick up a pick or two if we can, and if not, then we’ll just use where we are,” Bowman said. “We’ve got confidence. Our guys have done a good job finding players later in the draft, and they’ve worked hard.”

Any moves would not be to add a player to the current roster and that finding more room under the salary cap is not as issue, Bowman said.

“We’re looking to get picks — that’s my goal,” he said. “If we can get a couple more picks (Sunday), that would be my goal. I’m not really worried about salary. 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.”

As far as the trade market, Bowman said: “I’ve talked to a lot of teams, but we’re not really close to anything right now. But that could change in 10 minutes if I go talk to a guy and they change their tune. The prices are, no one seems that interested in budging yet. Sometimes when one or two trades are made, it sort of gets things rolling.”

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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