Throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we’ll be spotlighting unsung heroes around the postseason on a weekly basis.
In the 2012-13 regular season, Bryan Bickell was a solid supporting cast member for the Chicago Blackhawks, making the most of limited ice time (12:48 per game) to tally nine goals and 14 assists.
In the postseason, Bryan Bickell has become arguably the most surprising offensive force for the Blackhawks, with nine points in 15 games including seven goals, right behind Patrick Sharp for tops on the team. Overall, Bickell has 16 points in 30 career playoff games through Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
Bickell has goals in three of this last five playoff games, including that wrap-around tally that cut the Los Angeles Kings’ lead to 2-1 on Monday night.
"[Bickell's] been good game-in, game-out," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after the loss. "You notice him. He's at the net. You see some bodies moving around, seems like he has the puck."
He’s been a playoff stud for the Hawks, and just like playoff studs before him – Joel Ward and Sean Bergenheim come to mind – he’s going to get paid as an unrestricted free agent.
A big body who can skate and score will be in high demand in a very shallow free agent pool this summer. After David Clarkson, Nathan Horton and Ryane Clowe, Bickell might be the best of the next tier of wingers and he will probably get awarded with a contract that pays him as much as a 700% raise on the $600,000 contract he is just completing now. There are a lot of names out there, but his blend of talent, youth (he is only 27) and experience (played 4 games in the Hawks 2010 cup run) make him a very attractive and sought after commodity.
With the salary cap dropping, and with the Blackhawks needing to sign more than a few players, Bickel may cash in somewhere other than Chicago.
But for now, he’s an unsung hero pushing the Blackhawks towards a Cup.