This is where Bickell the sniper really emerges... when absolutely no one is anywhere close to him.
Bryan Bickell, yet another guy who has spent years in the Hawks system but only had sporadic and brief call ups to the Hawks but finally got his first full year after the great purge of last summer. Is anyone else getting sick of reading the same old story? Because I'm getting sick of writing it. Much like Jake Dowell, a quick look at Bickell and you see a guy built to make life hell on the forecheck (hey, just like that blog!), get in the goalies space and maybe add a few goals. We got some of that...
|2010 - Bryan Bickell||78||17||20||37||6||40||2||0||2||130|
Contract Status: Signed through 2012-13, ~542K Cap Hit
Positives: There's actually a lot to like about Bickell's first full season. As Hockee Night points out, Bickell had just as many goals and more assists than another recently departed big guy (who's now a Jet evidently, ain't that some shit?) that is oft lamented in many circles. Bickell's 37 points may be one of the more under-talked about aspects of last season. While the praise heaped upon Crawford (and now all the monies) is much deserved, Bickell himself had a hell of a rookie campaign. No one's going to confuse him with Jeff Skinner (especially because Bickell looks like he actually needs to shave) but his 37 points put him 12th overall among rookies this year. A few of those goals came on some pretty nice sniper wrist shots from the circle... but more on that later. Bickell also proved to be pretty versatile, getting time on just about every line and even grabbing a little power play time. Bickell is obviously best suited for a third line role and he seemed to find himself at home with Dave Bolland when he was healthy. Lets hope we see more of that next year.
Negatives: The biggest complaint about Bickell far and away is that he just doesn't play up to his size. Maybe his locker was next to John Scott and he lost perspective or something but at 6'4 and 225, Bickell is by far one of the largest Hawks. He did rack up plenty of hits but apart from the borderline run on Bieksa, none of them really stand out in my mind. It may take a little time for Bickell to develop some confidence in his physical game but he doesn't have a ton to spare. He'll need to step this up next year. Apart from just laying out punishment on other players, Bickell needs to drop the notion that he's ever going to be a sniper in this league. It's true that he's got a great wrister... it just takes an hour to unload. If the space is there, great. It's not there often though and Bickell would be much better off just crashing the net or better yet, finding space to park himself in front of the goalie and create some chaos in the crease.
Defining Moment: As much as I'd like to just pick Bickell walking around Bieksa in the playoffs, that hardly defines his season, does it? No, instead goals like this were far more common
Given the time and space, Bickell could be deadly...Though again, just in case he's reading, it's not common enough for him to think of himself as a sniper. Please, take the puck to the net.
Outlook: Well, there is that whole pesky wrist surgery Bickell is going to have to deal with this summer. After suffering a laceration from a skate in Game 2 (or was it 3?), Bickell had to leave the Hawks early to make sure there was no lasting effect to his hand. From all accounts though, this should be something easy to recover from and he won't be likely to miss any time next year. This is very good news for Stan as Bickell's super low cap hit and high return make him very valuable for a team that's still going to have to scrimp and save to stay under the cap. Bickell also seemed to find his own in the playoffs too, scoring 4 points in just 5 games. Bickell isn't going to be going anywhere next year and could be a very large piece to the puzzle that is the bottom 6 on this roster. Also, he was born in a place called Bowmanville... do you really think Stan's going to trade a guy from there?
Final Grade: B-, Hey! A grade above a C, that's a welcome sight, ain't it? It may even be a little low for a rookie who put up those points when no one expected it. I just can't get over a player his size not using it to his full advantage on a team that desperately needed it. Still, for his price, Bickell is key for the Hawks next year, especially if he can continue to improve.