Is there anyone out there who wants to wheel and deal for Bryan Bickell? Anyone at all? In need of a jolt, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in quite the predicament.
Losers of seven out of their last 10 games, including three straight, head coach Joel Quenneville has been playing Tetris with his lines of late. But is a trade for a true second line center the best move for the Hawks? Or is it simply a knee jerk reaction that would merely serve as a band aid?
Bryan Bickell‘s struggles have casted a domino effect on the entire offensive side for the Hawks. And although the second line center position has been a rotating door this season, Bickell’s nine points in 39 games hasn’t helped solidify things. In fact, his seven goals and two assists landed him in the press box in Jan. 26th’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets. With no signs of Bickell’s flaccid play improving, Chicago can either deal him, or eat his $4 million cap hit for the remainder of the season, as well as the next three years after. Sound appetizing?
Joel Quenneville specifically said no forward was hurt. This is a flat-out benching of Bryan Bickell: 1G, 1A, minus-7 in his last 14 games.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 26, 2014
In lieu of forcing a deal, the Blackhawks do hold the option of allowing the ever changing lines a chance to settle in and build chemistry. Although Bickell is a left winger, the season long carousel of second line centers at one point forced Kris Versteeg off the wing, further complicating the mad scramble. At this point, however, Quenneville likes what he sees out of the second line, which consists of Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, and Patrick Kane.
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“Offensively, there’s a lot there,” Quenneville said last week. “The three of them together is the makings of a line that can be productive.” Quenneville added, “But what they’re doing without the puck is how we want to gauge it.
“Defensively, what they’re giving up is the best way to measure their effectiveness. They can create enough. We want to see them have more production, more chances for sure on their own side. And they’ve been like that so far.”
Still not even one percent over this picture of Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw: https://t.co/Wlx6ms720n
— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) June 29, 2013
Choosing the status quo option, however, relies on an optimistic outlook. Brandon Pirri’s return from a lower body injury will undeniably give Quenneville even more options, which could spell doom for Bickell. Skating in his first full season with the Blackhawks, Pirri’s six goals and five assists in 24 games played could very well push Bickell even further to a role of providing depth. The 22-year-old Pirri is coming off of an injury though, and hasn’t recorded a point in his last eight games.
Suitors Willing To Deal For Bryan Bickell
As the trade deadline approaches, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman’s phone will not be ringing off the hook for Bickell’s services. That is unless a suitor offers a package deal, which in essence, would benefit the team taking Bickell in the deal. One rumor that’s been tossed around has mentioned the Winnipeg Jets sending Andrew Ladd to Chicago in exchange for Bickell, top prospect Teuvo Teravainen, and a first-round draft pick.
While there’s no denying that Ladd would be a great addition to the Hawks, is the asking price of this rumored deal too steep? After all, with Chicago’s projected cap space of $495,822 at the deadline razor thin enough, adding Ladd’s $4.4 million salary would not be freeing up much space, if any at all. Still, Ladd’s contract runs through the end of the 2015-16 season, and at 28-years-of-age, he is in the prime of his career.
Acquiring any talent like Andrew Ladd, however, simply isn’t worth giving up Teuvo Teravainen and a first-rounder. Technically, parting ways with the 18th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft would be giving a team two first-round picks, with Teravainen’s development already under way. In 77 games over the course of the last two seasons, Teravainen has scored 17 goals and 40 assists for 57 points while playing for Jokerit of the SM-lilga.
Despite their recent funk, the Blackhawks are a team with little need. And although their penalty kill is ranked at a woeful 27th in the league, the PK unit has out-shined their power play in recent games. With the St. Louis Blues breathing down Chicago’s back in the Central Division, a deal of some sort can and probably will be made. Whether that deal involves unloading Bryan Bickell or not remains to be seen.
Andy is a contributor for The Hockey Writers, covering the Philadelphia Flyers. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Walsh University. He enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, and reading. He is married with a daughter. You can follow Andy on Twitter @ADudones.