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Bryan Bickell signs 4-year, $16M deal to stay with Blackhawks

Bryan Bickell

Bryan Bickell

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Updated: August 2, 2013 7:39AM

NEWARK, N.J. — Bryan Bickell played like a star. Now he’s going to be paid like a star.

And the pressure’s on to prove that he is, indeed, a star.

“Yeah, there’s going to be more pressure,” Bickell said after signing a four-year, $16 million contract to stay with the Blackhawks. “They’re going to rely on me more. I feel these playoffs, I took a big step [in terms of] the way I need to play, the consistent level I need to bring. But I feel like I can bring that every night. I know what it takes now.”

Bickell was the breakout performer of the Hawks’ run to the Stanley Cup over the last two months, timing his nine-goal, eight-assist outburst perfectly with his impending unrestricted free agency. All along, Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said he wanted to keep Bickell, and Bickell said he’d be willing to take a hometown discount to stay with the team that drafted him in 2004.

While an average cap hit of $4 million — he’ll get a $1 million bonus and a $2 million salary next year, $4 million in 2014-15, and $4.5 million each of the next two season — it’s not much of a discount. And Bickell knew his contract was one reason the Hawks dealt away Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik earlier Sunday evening at the NHL draft.

“It’s unfortunate, I’ve known Bolland for a long time, and he’s a big part of these Cup runs that we had,” Bickell said. “They felt they needed to move some guys to keep me, and I’m just happy that they wanted me that bad.”

Bickell had nine goals and 14 assists as a third-liner during the regular season. He had 40 goals and 50 assists in 220 games until his postseason surge. He combined with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to form a highly productive top line during the final two series of the playoffs, and said he’d like the chance to play a whole season with them to see what they could accomplish.

“We’re excited to keep Bick because obviously we saw what he could do in the playoffs,” Bowman said. “But he’s got a different profile in terms of his style of play and his size.”

For now, Bickell’s going to take the Cup back home to Bowmanville, Ontario, and take it fishing, as he did in 2010. He just bought a new fishing boat last year, but with his new contract, “maybe I’ll upgrade.”

“I feel like Chicago’s like a second home,” he said. “I got drafted here. You can’t beat the city, the fans and the team. I’m happy to be back. It’s an awesome feeling.”

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