Rattlehead vs. Lord Byron

If we are picking just on smiles it's pretty obvious who wins. - Jonathan Daniel

It's been a topic of conversation in the comments, so I have decided to give it it's own feature spot to talk about. I think the Hawks will be put in a tough situation this summer when Stalberg and Bickell's contracts are up, both are due a substantial raise and the Hawks probably aren't going to be able to re-sign both of them. I am going to break down both players, what they cost, what they bring, how they compare to others in the league and in the hawks system and who's skill set is more important to the Hawks going forward.

Bryan Bickell

6'4 233 lbs 27 yrs old

Left Handed LW

Current Contract: 3 yrs 1.625 mil for a $541,667 cap hit

Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg have very different skill sets yet it looks like there isn't room for both cowboys at this saloon. Both players have had an increased role in the Hawks game plan this year, have welcomed the increased pressure and succeeded on pretty much any scale you can compare these two guys on.

Bryan Bickell looks like he will surpass his goal total from last season (nine) as he has shown he can get goals from he quick snap shot, he has tallied six this season in 35 games. He has taken 53 shots this season putting up a decent shooting percentage of 11.3%. He has stepped up his physical play as well, he is currently tied with Seabrook for the team lead in hits with 81. All while only costing $541,667 against the Blackhawks cap.

He is currently in the last year of his three-year deal with the Hawks and for his price there is no one else in the league with comparable production. I went through the capgeek.com comparable contracts and the list was almost laughable, quite a few of them were players who have spent most of their time in the AHL and it was filled with names like Andrew Gordon, Kevin Porter, Kyle Wilson and Chris Bourque. I checked about half of the players on the lists production and no one has the type of production that Bickell does nor have the impact on the team that Bickell brings.

BIckell and Stalberg have been line mates much of the season and have complimented each other pretty well IMO. Both have shown a willingness to go to the net and get in the dirty areas, using their size on a pretty under sized Hawks team. But they both have gone missing at times and could honestly probably be doing more with their size and strength.

Viktor Stalberg

6'3 209 lbs 27 yrs old

Left Handed RW

Current Contract: 2 years 1.75 mil for a 875k cap hit

By the numbers Vik is having a down year in production compared to 2011-2012 where he had 22 G 21 A and was a +6 playing in 79 games during the regular season. Comparably Stalberg has 6 G 11 A and is a +12 through 35 games this year he also has 36 hits (5th on the team) and 85 shots for a 7.1S%. But the eye test tells a different story. His speed still makes me stop whatever I'm doing and watch him on a rush, because he can hit a gear few men in the league can match. (Leddy, Saad and of course Kaner also seem to have this gear, Toews on the other hand is just more determined than anyone else and imposes his will on his opponents).

Stalberg is currently in the second year of his two year deal after his entry level deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Looking at his comparable contracts you get names like Jay Beagle, Jack Skille, Zenon Konopka, Daniel Carcillo (yeah Carcillo is only making 50 grand less than Stalberg), Matt Hendricks, Colin Fraser, Drew Miller and David Desharnais.

So a few more recognizable names but looking at their stats, Beagle has 9G 6A is a -8 in 117 games in his career, Skille hasn't turned into the player Florida traded for he has yet to play 50 games in a season and only has 8G 15A since taking his talents to the sunshine state. Hendricks gets close, his best season 2010-11 he tallied 9G 16A but was a -2. Fraser won his second cup with LA last season but he is a 4th liner on that team and had his best year when the Hawks won the cup with 7G 12A. So Stalberg is a steal totaling 49G 49A over his four year pro career. Still think he has hands of stone?

In the System

The Blackhawks just traded away a LW, Phillipe Paradis, who was named Rockford's heavy-hitter of 2011-12, but (and I'm not the biggest Rockford expert) I don't think Paradis was in Stan or Q's plans anytime soon, so they picked up a young defenceman who is still playing at Cornell University. But besides Paradis we kind of know we have some options at winger in the AHL, Morin, Smith, Hayes and Beach (he has to be on his last chance to prove he has anything NHL worthy). Anyone know anything about Terry Broadhurst? He looks really small but does he have any speed?

So Who Do We Resign?

Both are due a decent raise this summer and the Hawks are looking at about 4.962 mil in free cap space with 17 players signed. Stalberg seems to have more "skill" for lack of a better word, but that may actually be what causes him not to return to the Indian head. Stalberg's speed is probably going to cost more than Bickell's big body and snap shot and with the cap going down to 64.3 mil next year, so Stalberg may be to expensive to keep depending on what the market is like. I could see Stalberg getting 1.5 mil per year for anywhere between 2-5 years. But that's a shot in the dark, I don't know how this summer is going to look with the cap going down. In my honest opinion, if I had to chose one over the other, I would go with Bickell. He is going to cost less and the Hawks need size on physical play, unless they go out and pick it up from somewhere else they are going to need Bickell's play a little more.

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