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Something In The Way – C.I.’s Season Preview: Bryan Bickell

Did you forget he was on the team? I kind of forgot he was on the team. We’ve all assumed he’d be traded for so long, and the Hawks clearly have tried to trade him hard, that now that we’re here you kind of just assumed it already happened. But it hasn’t, he’s still here, and one has to assume if he’s here by now he’s probably not going anywhere. Bickell has become one of the least liked Hawks, and it’s basically because he signed a contract he was offered (whether Stan Bowman was actually the one offer him that contract has been up for debate, but it doesn’t matter now). Bickell’s been just about what he’s always been, except now he’s got even balkier knees and a brain that might slowly be turning into oatmeal.

So what’s in store of Bicks?

Last Season: 80 games, 14 goals, 14 assists, 28 points, +5, 38 PIM, 53.9% Corsi (0.1 Relative), 49.7 Corsi Competition

You can basically write this in ink before every season, because it’s what Bickell is going to give you. In fact the 14 goals were the highest he’d put up since 17 in his first full season, though in the lockout year he scored at a higher rate. The past three seasons his Corsi has been at or above the team rate, though last season wasn’t as high on the scale as the previous two. Bickell spent most of the season on the third line as he basically has the past three seasons, with various centers.

The only thing last year didn’t come with was a plus playoff performance, which Hawks fans had become somewhat accustomed to as it was something he’d done in every season before. He didn’t score, and he basically missed six games (though played the 1st period of one of the ones I’m counting as missed). The Hawks tried to claim that the absence was due to vertigo, but given that Bickell has some concussion history there weren’t too many people buying that.

This Season’s Outlook: Well, if he’s here. Bickell could be tossed overboard on the eve of the season as Leddy was last year. Except teams actually wanted Leddy last year, and if anyone wanted Bicks by now he’d be there instead of here. Based on the past couple practices, he’s once again on the third line, this time centered by Teuvo and on the other side of Garbutt (which is a terrible idea but whatever). If Bickell is a mainstay in the lineup, and really there’s no reason to think that he won’t be at the moment, he’ll provide what he basically always has. A defensively responsible winger who doesn’t quite play to his size, doesn’t get to the net as much as you think he should, chips in a goal here and there (9-15 per season), but he’ll drive possession and really not do anything that identifiably wrong.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that Bickell suffers some sort of injury that the Hawks can use as cover to LTIR him and use the cap space, which was whispered to be the plan earlier this summer. Bickell has had knee and brain problems, both of which can turn into long term injuries in a hurry. It’s a longshot but don’t rule it out. Otherwise, Bickell will be what he’s been, and you’ll listen to people complain about him slightly disproportionally.