Roster breakdown: The fourth line
Between now and training camp, we’ll take a look at the Hawks roster. This entry examines the fourth line. The newly acquired Ryan Potunly figures in the picture for the third and fourth line but isn’t included in this breakdown:
Jake Dowell, Center
Experience: 23 games for the Blackhawks over the course of the last three seasons. The bulk of his time has been in the AHL.
Contract Status: Last year of a two-way deal that pays him $550,000 if he plays for the Hawks. He’ll be a restricted free agent at year’s end.
Jesse’s take: Another one whose time has come with all the recent departures. No one is guaranteed a spot when it comes to the fourth line, but Dowell is as good as entrenched for a newcomer. At least he was until Potunly was signed. Hawks brass has singled Dowell out several times over the summer as a tough nosed player who could fill that role. Last preseason, he dropped the gloves with his teammates about as much as anyone, and the Hawks will enjoy that toughness as they lost some of it this offseason via trades. He’s had a total of 35 fights the last three seasons in the AHL and three in the NHL (including preseason) in limited time. When Marty Reasoner was dealt it further solidified Dowell’s spot on the roster.
Bryan Bickell, Left wing
Experience: 23 games for the Blackhawks over the course of three seasons. The bulk of his time has been in the AHL
Contract Status: Re-signed with the Hawks this offseason for three years at an average of about $540,000.
Jesse’s take: He’s spent the same amount of time with the Blackhawks as Dowell, but he’s been much more noticeable. No more so then when he lined up in last year’s playoffs next to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. People remember that Dustin Byfuglien starred in that spot in later rounds, but early on Joel Quenneville called upon Bickell to play with his young stars and he helped the Hawks turn the tide in the Nashville series. He’s a big body with decent hands who “gets it.” He rarely embarrasses himself on the ice, and now he should have the confidence to grow into a larger role. Could easily be a player who sees time on any of the four lines. Quenneville praised him, in particular, at the end of the regular season last year.
Fernando Pisani, Right wing
Experience: A seven year veteran of the NHL, all with the Edmonton Oilers.
Contract Status: Signed a one year deal for $500,000 this offseason.
Jesse’s take: A hero in Edmonton during their great playoff run in 2006, he’s been an oft-injured winger over the last few seasons. When healthy he adds experience and some depth for the Hawks penalty killing units. That’s his specialty these days. He’s currently fighting a back ailment that could slow him at the beginning of training camp, but he’s a solid veteran who just needs to stay on the ice.