Friday, September 19, 2014

And We're Off...The Race Begins

Twenty days until real hockey. That is what we have to look forward to, fans.

Here at the Puckin Hostile headquarters we have some brand new things, for the poor people that follow us. Those of you that took the summer off to lay out in the hot sun drunkenly watching the terrible Chicago baseball teams, are starting to get yourselves into fall/winter hockey mode. That means long sleeves, knit caps and, well, still beer. But throw in a little whiskey to warm your innards, because the journey to the 2015 Stanley Cup begins this weekend. Those that took the summer off will notice a few additions to the Puckin Hostile arsenal which are the, now regular, biweekly Puckin Hostile Shoutcast and the latest sucker to join the ranks, Patrick Stankus. These two additions have already helped take this silly dream of mine to yet another level. You might have the option to purchase official Puckin Hostile swag in the near future, as well. Going big time, I know.

All formalities aside, it is almost time for that frozen sport we all love. With that comes the endless speculation and analysis of what could have, or could not have, been. Who better to get this show rolling than one of the points of contention, Bryan Bickell?

Last summer, we were all sure that Bryan Bickell's playoff performance was going to write his ticket out of town to somewhere like Florida. I have no problem admitting that I did not think there a chance in hell Bickell would be back, especially for the salary that he was going to command. Then Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman did the unexpected, and talked Bickell into taking a bit of a discount to continue to the part of this core, and take a couple more shots at the Stanley Cup in Chicago. I was not exactly doing the happy dance. This was a deal that was going to take at least a year to simmer, and it has. So, lets take a look at the Bryan Bickell contract as compared to others with the same general skillset:

Bryan Bickell
28 years old
4 years for $4 Million per year
Games 59, Goals 11, Assists 4, Points 15, PIMs 28
Playoffs 19, Goals 7, Assists 3, Points 10, PIMs 8

Nathan Horton
29 years old
7 years for $5.3 Million per year
Games 36, Goals 5, Assists 14, Points 19, PIMs 24

Ryane Clowe
31 years old
5 years for $4.85 Million per year
Games 43, Goals 7, Assists 19, Points 26, PIMs 33

David Clarkson
30 years old
7 years for $5.25 Million per year
Games 60, Goals 5, Assists 6, Points 11, PIMs 90

These are the three other prized "power forwards" that were in Bickell's class. I think you get my point here.

Initial reaction was to say "WHAT?!?!?!", but if you compare to others with a similar set of skills, Bickell is younger, cheaper, and has a shorter contract. In this day and age, that is a win. We all joke that you can't teach size, but you certainly can't teach size that can consistently produce in the playoffs. Meatballs in Chicago are still clamoring for the fat jelly filled ass of Dustin Byfuglien because he had size and one decent playoff run 4 years ago. There is always the argument that he has averaged roughly 50 points per season playing defense, since he left west Madison, but these was for some really bad teams. He wouldn't be any better than a 3rd line wing or 3rd pair defender on this talented team, and he would be lucky to put up Bickell numbers.

Granted, this could all go to hell if Bickell has another 15 point regular season, but he has the potential, when healthy, to tally 35-40 points with the right linemates. Let's give him another full season with stronger knees, and see what he does. If he completely chokes, he still won't be the worst failure on the market, and the Blackhawks can launch him into he black abyss.

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