Jul 242010

While the team hasn’t officially acknowledged this, the Blackhawks have re-signed left-side power-winger Bryan Bickell to a three-year, one-way NHL contract.

According to a report by Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times, Bickell will earn salary dollars of $500,000, 525,000 and 600,000 over the next three seasons respectively, while his “cap hit” (the average payout of the contract which comes down to total dollar value divided by length) will be $541,666 for each season.

Bickell, 24, who was a favorite of head coach Joel Quenneville in his limited opportunity with the club this past season and playoff, will become an un-restricted free agent at the end of the contract, summer of 2013.

It’s interesting Bickell’s agent would pin his client down to such a low figure for the next three years when Bickell has a big chance to play an integral role with the Hawks going forward.  The deal is a steal for Stan Bowman.  At worst, he has an affordable third and fourth line guy, salary-wise, being as cheap as they come.  Enthusiastically, we could come to know Bickell as one of the bigger “bargains” in the National Hockey League two and three years from now.

I find it hard to believe Bickell couldn’t have negotiated a better deal.  Two-years on a one-way for the same money he agreed to could have landed him in a position to enroll in the arbitration process in 2012, one year short of his UFA year (as it sits now in the current CBA, for players with expiring contracts who are 27 or older).  As it looks now, Bickell could stand to earn a million or considerably more after the next two seasons should he see good minutes and continue to progress.  While Bickell hasn’t shown near the same scoring touch, he’s not all that far behind Troy Brouwer in terms of iimpact he can make with this club.  Specifically with the departure of Dustin Byfuglien, Quenneville needs all the size he can get, and thus Bickell will see a lot of important minutes if he can carry his level of performance over from the past spring.  This is after all the same Bryan Bickell who fit in nicely in spots on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.  That said, this deal could wind up more regrettable for Bickell should the new CBA push the UFA age back, or forward, a year or more when the new bargaining agreement is drawn (hopefully) prior to the 2012-13 season.

This is the kind of contract a young Canadian kid thinks is great when he first signs it.  Then he changes agents two years later when he realizes he wasted a chance to make a lot more money at a young age.

Great deal for Stan Bowman.  For Bickell, we’ll wait and see.

Evan Brophey, Blackhawks 3rd round pick (67th overall) in the 2005 Draft, re-signed a 1-year deal on Thursday.  This also hasn’t been acknowledged by the Hawks.  There is a method to these things that go over the heads in hockey operations.

Brophey was a scoring forward in junior, but had to alter his game into more of a two-way player once he turned pro.  His skating wasn’t up to “pro” standards three years ago, but that has come along since.  Brophey is a long shot to make the Hawks out of camp, but its not like its completely out of question.  This is, however, probably his last chance to make an impression with this organization.  As much as everyone, including us, have Jake Dowell pencilled into the fourth-line center slot, there will still be a competition for that vacancy.  Albiet, a competition solely between guys who get paid at, or near, the league minimum – Dowell, Brophey or Jeff Taffe (TAYF).  Even prospect camp favorite Markus Kruger is an even longer-shot at this stage considering his cap hit would be $735,000.  The Hawks simply cannot afford a fourth line that will take up in excess of $1.75M on their Cap.  Understood, this makes a theoretical fourth line of any of three previously-mentioned center options between Bickell and Rob Klinkhammer a very good possiblity.

In his 2009-10 season with the IceHogs, Brophey posted 31 points (14g, 17a) in 79 regular season appearances.  If you’re wondering, Bickell has 31 (16g, 15a) in 14 fewer games.

We’ll discuss this further elsewhere, but as currently constituted, there is almost zero chance Kyle Beach makes this team out of training camp simply because of his cap hit.

Nathan Davis, a 2006 – 4th round draft pick (113th overall), has re-signed with the Hawks on a 1-year, 2-way deal according to CapGeek.com today.  I’ve always liked Davis, dating back to his days at Miami (Ohio) in the CCHA, but he’s seemingly always injured and his once speedy wheels could use some greasing.  Davis posted 8 goals and 11 points in 23 games with the IceHogs last season.  He’s appeared in 72 regular season games (compiling 23 total points) with Rockford since turning pro.  Most of the games he’s missed were due to injury, but not all.  He’s skated a lot on the third and fourth lines. This is also Davis’s last opportunity to stick with the organization.  He can play center or the wing, which is what is keeping him around.  I’d like to see him skate with Igor Makarov in Rockford this fall.  Or, potentially on the left side of that line with Kruger in the middle.  But, its still a little early to be thinking of line combinations for the IceHogs.  Especially with this little surprise today……

Hugh Jessiman, a long-running joke on NY Rangers fans, has signed with the Blackhawks, also according to CapGeek.com today.  Jessiman is a New York City born, and Connecticut raised forward who was a standout in his freshman season at Dartmouth College.  The Rangers then chose to select Jessiman the following summer 12th overall in the 2003 Entry Draft.  The Rangers are still reeling from that pick.  In choosing Jessiman, the Rangers passed over more than a few future NHL stars in that round including – Dustin Brown (LAK #13), Brent Seabrook (CHI #14), Zach Parise (NJD #17), Ryan Getzlaf (ANA #19), Brent Burns (MIN #20), Ryan Kesler (VAN #23), Mike Richards (PHI #24) and Corey Perry (ANA #28).

Jessiman has yet to skate a game in the NHL.  He’s been decent in the AHL, scoring 72 goals and 143 points in 313 games in that league, all with the Hartford Wolf Pack (while in the Rangers’ system) and Milwaukee Admirals (Predators’ organization, where he’s coming from now).  Jessiman scored 20 goals and added 22 assists with Milwaukee last season.  He’s been good for 20 goals each of the last three years in the AHL.

You’d like to think the Rangers have learned a valuable lesson over the years on not wasting first round picks, but this is the team that just spent a 10th overall pick on a poor-skating, husky defenseman who is mostly known for fighting.

— In Rockford IceHogs news, the Hawks AHL affiliate re-signed goaltender Joe Palmer, 22, to a one-year minor league contract this week, his agency confirms.  Palmer played most of last season in the Central Hockey League (CHL) after beign assigned to the Texas Brahmas by the IceHogs in late-September.  Palmer was called up late in the season but did not see any minutes with Rockford.

Despite ‘Hawks success, Jay Cutler is new face of Chicago sports  Neil Hayes, Sun-Times

New Penguins D-man Paul Martin refreshlingly did something very few players will ever do, publically state the teams he chose against signing with before inking in Pittsburgh  Craig Custance, Sporting News.

These days in Chicago Blackhawks history…..
Jack O’Callahan turns 53 today.

Dave Mackey turns 44 on this day.

Shawn Thornton, who spent a few seasons with the Hawks and their minor league team in Norfolk, and was recently re-signed for another season with the Boston Bruins, turned 33 on Friday.

— Yesterday was 16 years to the day the Blackhawks signed un-restricted free agent Bob Probert to a four-year $6.4M dollar contract.  The 1994-95 season was cut short and didn’t begin until late-January of ’95 due to a work stoppage.  Probert’s debut didn’t go down until the ’95-96 season due to his league-ban for substance-abuse violations.  If you’ve ever seen fans with Probert Blackhawks sweaters and the number 95 on the back of them, that’s because originally Probert wore that number as symbolism of his “rebirth” following substance-abuse treatment and getting clean.  It didn’t last long and Probert became the first Blackhawk to wear #24 since Doug Wilson was dealt to the San Jose Sharks on Sept. 6, 1991 for Kerry Toporowski and a draft pick (which the Hawks dealt to Winnipeg but turned out to be future Hawk Boris Mironov).

— Thursday was the 19th anniversary of the deal that sent Troy Murray and rugged winger Warren Rychel (current GM and co-owner of Windsor Spitfires in OHL) to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for D-Bryan Marchment and Cornell grad Chris Norton.  Marchment broke a few legs.  Norton lasted with the organization (Indianapolis-IHL at the time) on the ice about a month before being shipped to LA for defensemean Rod Buskas.  Norton never made it to an NHL ice surface and finished his career skating in the pro-league in the United Kingdom.

How do you make a Kings of Leon show more entertaining?


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