Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell ready to heed waiver wake-up call

bryanbickellhawksslide.png

Blackhawks: Bryan Bickell ready to heed waiver wake-up call

What looked like a move to send Bryan Bickell to the Rockford IceHogs appears, in fact, to be the ultimate wake-up call attempt.

Bickell cleared waivers and will play Saturday night with the Blackhawks when they host the Dallas Stars in their preseason finale. Bickell was placed on waivers at 11 a.m. on Friday and cleared 24 hours later.

“I’m just taking it as an awakening, set a fire,” Bickell said following morning skate. “I look at the clock: it’s 11:16 and I’m still here and I’m looking to play tonight to really show them I can get that game back. I want to be a Blackhawk forever. Second opportunity.”

The Blackhawks have tried plenty of light-a-fire tactics in the past with Bickell, including healthy scratches. His overall game, however, hasn’t had the consistency it had in the spring of 2013, when he helped the Blackhawks win the second of their past three Stanley Cups. Bickell is in the third year of his current contract, which carries a cap hit of $4 million per season. Sportsnet.ca reported on Thursday that the Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers talked of a trade regarding Bickell, but that didn’t happen.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Marko Dano among Blackhawks reassigned to Rockford]

“Organizationally we know Bicks can bring a lot to or team,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ll talk to him individually, like we will all the players on Monday, about roles and job descriptions. We think he can be a factor and we need him to be. So that’s where it’s at.”

Bickell is here right now. Will he stay? Ultimately, that’s up to Bickell and his play but if he’s still struggling in the short term the Blackhawks have options. According to generalfanager.com, the Blackhawks have 29 days/nine NHL games played in to reassign Bickell to Rockford without him having to clear waivers again.

“Yeah, I'm not sure what it is,” Patrick Kane said of Bickell getting the wake-up call. “But we were all happy to see him this morning. And I think he's playing tonight, so I'm sure he's excited about that. I'm sure it was a tough day for him yesterday. He's close with a lot of guys in here, so we all feel for him and I think we all hope he’s here.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the 2015-16 Blackhawks season!]

Bickell said he took Friday for himself to collect his thoughts and sort out what was happening. The Blackhawks sent him as big a message as possible while still keeping him here. As Bickell said, it’s up to him now.

“I know there’s been ... healthy scratches to kind of spark me. This is maybe a (motivation) to really show that I really want to be here,” Bickell said. “I don’t want to leave. [I want to] play like I used to play and be a physical presence on the ice; and with this team, that’s what I think we need and I need to bring it every night.”

Corey Crawford Keeps 2018-19 Mask Design

crawfordthumb.jpg
USA Today

Corey Crawford Keeps 2018-19 Mask Design

Corey Crawford is a man who knows what he likes. Hockey By Design on Twitter shared a photo of Crawford’s mask for the 2019-20 season and it looks like he will be rocking the same airbrush mask he did last season. The design, by Stephane Bergeron of Griff Airbrush, features the Blackhawks logos and feathers backed a by a sleek black mask. What can we say, Crawford keeps it classic.

 Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Blackhawks mailbag: Could more trades be coming before 2019-20 season opener?

stan_bowman_ap.jpg
AP

Blackhawks mailbag: Could more trades be coming before 2019-20 season opener?

Charlie Roumeliotis answers your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition. 

Is there any chance we see the Hawks make a trade before the season starts?

The Blackhawks had as active a summer as any team, revamping their roster and filling out their depth through trades and free agency. And because of that, it's going to be an extremely competitive training camp.

While the organization acknowledged that it's important to be 26, 27 players deep throughout the course of an 82-game season, the Blackhawks have a handful of players fighting for the same spot or two: Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Brendan Perlini, Dylan Sikura and Anton Wedin. Heck, even Kirby Dach.

August is always the dead period around the NHL. But come September, it wouldn't be surprising to see some movement around the league when teams figure out what they have on the ice. Training camp and preseason games are a time for GMs to evaluate who may be getting squeezed out, whether there's a breakout prospect emerging and it's also when the pressure point of having to be compliant with the cap.

The Blackhawks could be one of those teams looking to make a tweak or two before Opening Night, but don't expect anything significant.

Do you think Nylander makes the team this year or does he spend another season in the AHL? If he does makes the team, who do you see him fitting on a line with?

Alex Nylander is going to be given a fair shot to make the Blackhawks out of training camp, and it would be a disappointment if he didn’t. He was taken No. 8 overall in 2016 and simply hasn’t taken that next step in his development yet.

Perhaps the situation in Buffalo played a role in that, but it will truly be up to Nylander whether he does unlock his true potential in Chicago. There isn’t a reason for him not to. It’s a much healthier situation and the spotlight isn’t on him.

If Nylander does make the team, expect him to play with offensively-gifted players — guys who can help bring out the best in his abilities and think the game at the same level. But playing with those types of players also means you're drawing top competition on a nightly basis, so he will have to earn it.

Do you think all the additions this summer may be a strategic move to help prepare the Hawks for the expansion draft? (Keeping the prospects off the team till midseason or something so they remain draft protected/ineligible?)

Good question. The summer of 2020 is going to be a fascinating one for the Blackhawks because that's when teams are going to start making some moves ahead of the 2021 expansion draft. And as of right now, the Blackhawks are going to expose a really good player, whether they pick the seven forwards and three defensemen option or the eight skater one.

Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews all have no-movement clauses, so they must be protected (unless the player approves of being exposed, which is highly unlikely). Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome are two others who must be protected, so that's six right there. Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw are two others who are eligible. Same with Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy. And if Erik Gustafsson signs an extension, he must be protected also.

Again, the list is deep. But to answer your original question, the primary focus this summer was to fill needs across the roster (physicality and defensive-minded players) and doing so through trades was the best possible option because they were able to get guys with term and a reasonable cap hit. Free agency is where the overpayment happens. The goalie situation for the Blackhawks is one to watch ahead of the 2021 expansion draft. 

As far as prospects go, Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach will not be eligible for the expansion draft no matter how many games they play in this season and next because the draft happens before the 2021-22 calendar season. So that will not play a role in the organization's decision regarding when they play in the NHL.

What are your expectations for the goaltending tandem in Rockford? Delia appears to be the current starter, but Lankinen was really impressive this summer for Finland. Small-ish sample size, but he was phenomenal. Do you think it will end up being an even split at some point?

Collin Delia may have signed a three-year extension with the Blackhawks, but that doesn’t mean the organization doesn’t want to give Kevin Lankinen a strong look also. Delia has earned the right to be the starter, but the split between he and Lankinen will likely be closer to 50-50 if both goalies are performing.

Lankinen was sensational between the pipes for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, helping lead his country to a gold medal. But Delia is also taking significant steps in his development and doing so at a rapid pace. It should be a healthy competition in Rockford.

With so much prospect talk focused on Dach, Boqvist, & Delia (and rightfully so) is there a dark horse prospect (I'm talking about that under the radar grinder) fans should keep their eyes on & where are they expected to be playing this year so we can follow?

Two prospects come to mind when discussing potential dark horses: MacKenzie Entwistle and Philipp Kurashev. Both of them will be playing in Rockford this season.

Entwistle and Kurashev took significant steps in their development this past season, with Entwistle playing a key role in the Guelph Storm winning the OHL championship and Kurashev leading the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships in scoring with six goals in seven games.

Entwistle is a player who knows exactly what his role will be in the NHL and has already embraced it: a bottom-six forward, reliable penalty killer and a leader on and off the ice. And that’s something the Blackhawks value about him.

Kurashev is more offensively skilled and has some sneaky upside to be a potential breakout player as a fourth-round pick. Keep an eye on him.

Is it October yet?

This really has felt like a long summer, hasn’t it? We’re almost there, Zane. 

A few checkpoints are coming up on the schedule though that may help speed up the process: Traverse City prospects tournament from Sept. 6-11, training camp festival on Sept. 15 and the first preseason game on Sept. 16. We're getting closer.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.