Blackhawks trade Bolland to Leafs, Frolik to Jets, re-sign Bickell to 4-year deal
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org June 30, 2013 5:53PM
Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland (36) celebrates his game winning goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Monday, June 24, 2013, in Boston. The Blackhawks won 3-2. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Updated: June 30, 2013 8:24PM
NEWARK, N.J. — Less than an hour after trading away Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik, the Blackhawks signed playoff star Bryan Bickell to a four-year contract.
Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed, but TSN reported that it was worth $16 million, meaning an annual salary cap hit of $4 million.
Bickell, who was an unrestricted free agent, had nine goals and eight assists during the postseason. Hawks general manager Stan Bowman and Bickell’s agents had been negotiating throughout the week. Bickell had said on Thursday that he’d be willing to take a hometown discount to stay with the team that drafted him in 2004.
“We want him and he wants to be here,” Bowman said.
The 6-4, 223-pound Bickell emerged as a star in the playoffs, with a dominant series against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference final. And when he, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were put on the top line together, they formed a dominant top line. Bickell, a third-liner during the regular season in which he had nine goals and 14 assists, said he’d like the chance to skate on that line together for a full season.
“That’d be good,” he said. “[Joel Quenneville] changed it up after the L.A. series and we got back together and it worked again. You know Q, if it’s going well, he’s going to let it ride. But if it comes down to it, I’d love to see how it would go if we had a full year, or a full month. We’ll see.”
A week ago, Bolland assured himself of a place in Blackhawks history. On Sunday, he became Blackhawks history.
Six days after Bolland scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 6 at Boston, the Hawks traded their enigmatic agitator to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Sunday’s NHL draft for three picks — a second-rounder, a fourth-rounder, and a fourth-rounder in 2014.
The Hawks also traded Frolik — whose deflection banked off the post and led to Bolland’s Cup-winning goal — to Winnipeg for a third-rounder and a fifth-rounder.
Despite Bolland being a two-time Cup winner and part of the Hawks’ vaunted core, the deal was not a huge shock. This was the third straight summer the Hawks shopped Bolland, and general manager Stan Bowman said he was actively trying to secure more 2013 draft picks after dealing away three of them in the past year-plus.
Bolland — a native of the Toronto suburb of Mimico — knew the rumors were swirling around him.
“I’d love to be back here next year,” he said on Thursday. “Whatever happens, happens. It’s the NHL, and trades happen, but I’d love to be back here. I love Chicago. Things like this go around the league, that’s the game, that’s what happens.”
Bolland had seven goals and seven assists during the regular season this year as he battled numerous injuries. In his Hawks career, he had 70 goals and 98 assists in 332 games, earning a reputation as one of the league’s top irritants and a lockdown checking-line center.
His departure leaves the Hawks even thinner at center than they’ve already been; Bolland spent most of the regular season as the team’s second-line center. But Bowman has been looking to give some of the organization’s young talents a chance in the NHL, and on Sunday, he singled out 6-foot, 180-pound center Brandon Pirri, who was the AHL’s leading scorer with 22 goals and 53 assists in 76 games with the Rockford IceHogs.
Frolik, a former first-round pick of the Florida Panthers who emerged as a penalty-killing specialist this season, had three goals and seven assists all season, then three goals and seven assists in the playoffs. His penalty-shot goal in Game 6 of the Detroit series was one of the biggest of the postseason.
“We have a lot of young players we have to sort of find spots for,” Bowman said. “We’ve sort of kept some of these guys in the minors for a while and they’ve earned their chance to play. It’s not going to hurt them to play another year in the American League but when they’re ready, they’re ready. Pirri won the scoring title last year in Rockford. We haven’t really given him a chance to play yet.”
Moving Bolland frees up $3.375 million in salary, and moving Frolik frees up $2.33 million, which allowed the Hawks to re-sign unrestricted free agent Bryan Bickell. It might be enough to keep restricted free agents Nick Leddy and Marcus Kruger.
Bowman said talks with Leddy and Kruger haven’t started yet, but that they will soon. The Hawks now have extra money to play with, though Bowman said they would not be making a big splash in free agency.
“We’re not going to be in that free-agent market,” he said. “I don’t want to say we’re immune to that but that’s really not a focus of mine. For us, we’re not trying to shed money or go into the free-agent market.”