After locking up defenseman Brent Seabrook with a lucrative longterm contract extension, Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is attempting to create cap space via a trade of forward Bryan Bickell, according to a report from Mark Spector of Sportsnet. With Seabrook's cap hit now up to $6.875 million through 2023-24 and players like Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw up for restricted free agency, the already cap-strapped Hawks need to make some room under the cap and it seems Bickell likely isn't long for the Windy City. And, it seems, per Spector, that the Edmonton Oilers are already showing interest in the big winger.
According to Spector's report, the Oilers and Hawks have already discussed a potential Bickell trade which included Edmonton defenseman Nikita Nikitin, but the two sides were unable to come together on that deal.
Bickell, 29, is a former second-round pick of the Blackhawks. He's big - 6-foot-4, 233-pounds - and strong to and around the net, but is ultimately limited offensively. This seems like an incredibly smart play by Bowman, selling high on a player in Bickell who is unlikely to ever match or surpass the production he managed last season - 14 goals, 14 assists in the regular season, another five helpers during Chicago's postseason run.
With Bickell counting $4 million against the cap for the next two seasons, it makes sense that Bowman would look to send him elsewhere, especially considering the young forward depth already in place within the Blackhawks organization.
Nikitin is also costly - he carries a cap hit of $4.5 million - and his deal expires after the year, so he'd likely be a stop-gap addition for the Hawks.