Playoffs upping Bickell's offseason price

Updated: May 27, 2013, 12:25 PM ET
By Craig Custance

Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell knew this season was an important one. So his approach was simple: If he wanted to keep playing with the Blackhawks, he had to have a good year.

His goal total had dropped from 17 in the 2010-11 season to just nine in 2011-12. He needed to get back to that steady production.

In forming one of the league's best third lines with Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg during the regular season, he found that production while scoring just as many goals in the lockout-shortened season as he did in 2011-12.

Chicago's third line was one of the big reasons the Blackhawks found a way to earn a point in almost every game during the regular season.

"As a line we created a lot of chemistry," said Shaw. "Bickell is a big body, throws his weight around. Hardest shot I've ever seen. Takes the puck to the net, he'll battle and compete. He's got good hockey sense, too."

That formula usually equals playoff success, too, and Bickell is turning into one of the Blackhawks' most productive players this postseason. In helping keep Chicago's season alive, Bickell scored his fourth goal of the playoffs in Saturday's 4-1 victory over Detroit in Game 5 and also made his presence felt physically. His crushing blow on Niklas Kronwall during the third period may have injured the Detroit defenseman, although Kronwall told Detroit reporters he will be ready to go for Game 6. Bickell's four playoff goals are tied with Patrick Kane for second on the Blackhawks, trailing only Patrick Sharp's six.

Bickell has become a presence the Red Wings have to account for on a team full of high-end skill. And suddenly, a guy who was concerned about being productive enough to keep his job in Chicago might have priced himself right off the team.