Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell said Tuesday he would like to re-sign with the team when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season.
"Yeah, definitely, (I'd like to re-sign with the Blackhawks)," Bickell said during the Stanley Cup finals media day. "I got drafted in '04 with this team. I think this is a second home to me. To be brought up through the minor leagues and being here the last couple years has been an honor. I feel this is a home to me. I have a lot of friends and family with me in the city. I enjoy it a lot here."
Bickell laughed when asked if he'd be willing to give the Blackhawks a hometown discount. He is making $600,000 this season and is expected to receive a hefty raise due to his playoff performance, which has included eight goals and five assists in 17 games and has him in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
"I don't know about that," Bickell said of giving the Blackhawks a hometown discount. "We'll see. We're just concentrating on the finals. Me and my agent will come together, and we'll negotiate that at the end of the season."
Blackhawks general manger Stan Bowman made it sound Tuesday as if Bickell was in the team's future plans
"He's been with us for a long time and worked his way here," Bowman said. "I think in a lot of ways it's nice to see him finally put all the pieces together. We've known he's had this capability for a long time. Proud of him, proud of the way he's played. He's a nice element to our team. We're excited that he's coming into his own. He's been a big part of the success we've had this year and looking for that going forward as well."
Bickell's recent play could get him somewhere between $3 million to $4 million a season on the free agent market. The length of Bickell's next deal will also factor in that salary.
Whether the Blackhawks are able to re-sign the 27-year-old Bickell could depend on their plans with fellow unrestricted free agents Viktor Stalberg, Ray Emery, Michal Handzus, Jamal Mayers and Michal Rozsival and restricted free agents Nick Leddy and Marcus Kruger.
Bickell has been a work in progress for the Blackhawks since they drafted him in the second round, 41st overall, in the 2004 draft. He played in the OHL from 2004-2006 and made his debut with the Blackhawks in 2007.
Bickell was up and down from the AHL to the NHL from 2006-2010. He played 16 games for the Blackhawks during their Stanley Cup 2009-2010 season and also appeared in four playoff games. He's been a mainstay in the team's lineup since the 2010-2011 season.
Bickell recorded a career-high 17 goals and 20 assists in 78 games in the 2010-2011 season. He had nine goals and 15 assists in 71 games in the 2011-2012 season and had nine goals and 14 assists in 48 games this season.
"Bicks is a guy we know really well," Bowman said. "We drafted him, developed him over the time and we've worked together to get him to this point. I've had a lot of talks with Bryan over the years going back to his days in Norfolk when he first turned pro. It was a learning curve for him. He was in and out of the lineup a lot trying to understand how to become a consistent player. Then he played a lot in Rockford."
Bickell has played some of his best hockey in the playoffs. He had two goals and two assists in five games during the 2011 playoffs and two goals in six games in the 2012 playoffs.
Bickell said Tuesday he believes he could be the same type of consistent player during the regular season as he has been in the playoffs.
"I think going through my career in the minors and the first couple years with the Hawks, my consistent level had to be better," Bickell said. "I thought as my career has been going on, it has been getting better. This year was a big stepping stone for me. It's been fun, and I just need to stick with it."
Bickell has received more attention from fans and media as the playoffs have progressed, and he said Tuesday he's enjoyed it.
"It's been fun; it's been different," Bickell said. "I've just enjoying every minute of this. To be a part of this, the finals, doing what I've gotten for this team, it's been an honor. We just got to keep this going."