Bryan Bickell is getting another chance this season.
Bickell, 29, was initially waived at the start of the season, but was inserted into the starting lineup after he went unclaimed. After going scoreless in the first eight games, Chicago demoted him to the AHL. Since being sent down, Bickell has played well. The nine-year veteran has 14 points in 12 games for Rockford, including seven goals.
Bickell carries a $4 million salary cap hit and had 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 80 games last season. Since the spring, he's been dealing with vertigo-related issues that have occasionally kept him off the ice. There have been no reports of related issues during his stint in Rockford.
Chicago was able to recall Bickell after placing forward Viktor Tikhonov on waivers Saturday. Moving Tikhonov's $1.04 million salary cap hit frees up the $950,000 in cap space that's added with Bickell's return. The alternative route would have been to reassign Brandon Mashinter and Tanner Kero or Marko Dano.
Tikhonov, 27, was signed by the Hawks to a one-year deal during the summer. The Russian won the Gagarin Cup with Artemi Panarin on SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL last season. In 11 games this season, Tikhonov has yet to record a point and has 11 shots on goal. He only skated in three games in November and last played against Calgary on the Circus Trip.
The Blackhawks currently sit 12 points behind the Dallas Stars for the Central Division lead. While the Hawks have shown it isn't important to win the division, falling too far behind could them in a position where they need to make a trade to make a push for a playoff spot during the second half of the season.