The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled veteran forward Bryan Bickell from the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, the team announced Wednesday. Bickell has split this season between Chicago and Rockford, often being discussed in trade rumors due to his contract and inconsistent play.
Now it appears Bickell will have a chance at a grand redemption at the most opportune time. The 30-year-old has been productive over 44 games with the IceHogs this season, recording 15 goals and 16 assists, and could bring an element of size that's eluded the team at times.
Midseason acquisitions Andrew Ladd and Tomas Fleischmann have done well for the Hawks, but one player brought in to help bolster the team's depth -- Dale Weise -- hasn't quite fit in. Now Bickell might get one last shot to show what he can do and possibly carve out some postseason minutes on one of the bottom-six lines.
It goes without saying that there's the possibility of an amazing story. Bickell's been a major target for shade from Blackhawks fans over the past year because of his contract and lack of production. While we're still a ways from actually seeing him scoring goals in the playoffs like it's 2014, the thought of Bickell celebrating a monster tally on the United Center ice this spring is already giving me goosies. I'm a sucker for a good story and Bickell's redemption would be a spectacular one.
That's what I hope happens, although the ocular issues and the past year have left questions about whether Bickell can play at an NHL level again. He's been producing in Rockford, though, and still has one more year left on his contract. Chicago would surely rather have him looking good late in this season, not only for playoff reinformcents but also because it'll help the team trade his contract this summer.
With Artemi Panarin likely hitting his Schedule B bonus and adding a seven-figure overage to the team's books next season, it would be a nice twist of fate if Bickell played well over the next few weeks and helped the team free up some money there. It might be a long shot, but stranger things have happened.