The Chicago Blackhawks have re-signed forward Bryan Bickell to a four year contract extension, according to a tweet from the team's official Twitter account.
Big as in Bickell-sized news to announce: @bbicks29 has been re-signed for 4 years!
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) July 1, 2013
The cap hit will be $4 million per season, with Bickell set to make $2 million, plus a $1 million bonus, in 2013-14. He will make $4.5 million in each of the last two seasons of the contract.
Estimates of what Bickell would have commanded on the open market vary wildly, but a good comparative contract is the one that Buffalo Sabres forward Ville Leino signed with the team after a successful playoff run with the Philadelphia Flyers. He signed a 6-year, $27 million contract with the team, and while that deal hasn't panned out, it does provide a good context to why GM Stan Bowman gave Bickell such a huge pay increase from the roughly $550K he made in 2013.
Obviously, this deal is going to look like a steal if Bickell can continue to play first or second line minutes over the next few seasons, or it could end up being an albatross if he ends up reverting back to the inconsistent play that landed him in head coach Joel Quenneville's doghouse for much of the early part of his Hawks career.
At any rate, the Hawks are still well under the salary cap even with the Bickell extension figured in, and they can now set to work on re-signing players like Nick Leddy to new contracts in the meantime.
Stay tuned for more on this breaking story.