Stan Bowman can cross another item off his to-do list by re-signing forward Bryan Bickell to a three-year deal worth $1,625,000. He is slated to make $500,000 in 2010-11, $525,000 in 2011-12 and $600,000 in 2012-13, which is a cap hit of $541,666. It’s a small raise compared to the $500,000 Bickell earned last season, but he’s guaranteed a spot on the Blackhawks’ roster because of his price tag. I thought he was going to get $550,000 per year. Every penny counts.
Bickell could have a Ladd-like role down the road, but should begin the season on the fourth line. In fourteen regular season games Hawks last year, Bickell had three goals with one assist. He also skated in four post-season matches.
Next, Bowman and company have Jordan Hendry and Antti Niemi to take care of. Hendry will get a deal done with the same cap hit he had last season ($625,000), which should be possible because the Hawks didn’t tender him a qualifying offer making him an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
With Niemi, on the other hand, it’s difficult to foresee what will happen. Bowman is making the extra effort to re-sign his goaltender by signing guys like Bickell to minimum deals, and trading away inexpensive pieces such as Marty Reasoner. Anything over a cap hit of $2,500,000 could force the Blackhawks to walk, or trade Tomas Kopecky ($1,200,000).
Two more signed
The Hawks signed restricted free agent Nathan Davis and free agent forward Hugh Jessiman to one-year deals worth $500,000. Both will spend the 2010-11 season with Rockford where they are to earn significantly less (Davis – $75,000; Jessiman – $105,000) in the AHL as they have two-way deals. Jessiman was selected 12th overall in the 2003 entry draft, and has yet to play a game in the NHL.