NEWARK, N.J. -- Six days after combining on the Stanley Cup-clinching goal, the Chicago Blackhawks traded away Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik in order to free up enough space under the NHL salary cap to re-sign Bryan Bickell to a four-year contract.
It all happened early in the 2013 NHL Draft at Prudential Center on Sunday.
"I've known Bolland for a long time and he was a big part of these Cup runs we had [in 2010 and 2013], but they felt they needed to move some guys to be able to keep me and I'm just happy that they wanted me that bad," Bickell said on a conference call Sunday. "To see those two guys gone it's unfortunate, but I'm just happy to be in this situation."
Bickell, who could have become an unrestricted free agent July 5, said he understands that with the big contract comes more pressure to produce like he did in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he had nine goals and 17 points in 23 games and developed instant chemistry playing left wing on a line with center Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane.
Toews, Kane and Bickell combined for 13 points after being reunited starting with Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Bickell scored the game-tying goal with 76 seconds left in Game 6 of the Final off a feed from Toews.
"There's going to be more pressure," Bickell said. "They're going to rely on me more. I feel this playoffs I took a big step in the way I need to play and the consistency level I need to bring, but I feel I can bring that every night. I know what it takes now, what they want, and hopefully I can just bring it."
Bickell had 23 points in 48 regular-season games and has 90 points, including 40 goals, in 220 NHL games since making his debut during the 2006-07 season. Bickell was chosen by the Blackhawks in the second round (No. 41) of the 2004 NHL Draft.
I feel like Chicago is a second home. You can't beat the city, the fans the team. I'm happy to be back. It's an awesome feeling. - Bryan Bickell
"I feel like Chicago is a second home," Bickell said. "You can't beat the city, the fans the team. I'm happy to be back. It's an awesome feeling."
Ironically, for Bickell to stay it took trading away one of his longtime teammates, Bolland, who also was part of Chicago's 2004 draft class.
Bolland grew up just outside of Toronto in Mimico, Ontario, and played minor hockey with Bickell for the Toronto Red Wings before joining the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Bolland was drafted by the Blackhawks with the No. 32 pick in 2004 and won the Stanley Cup twice. He produced 168 points during 332 regular-season games for Chicago, and had 43 points in 67 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He could become Toronto's No. 2 center behind Nazem Kadri in 2013-14.
"They've got some young talent with Kadri and the goaltender [Jonathan Bernier]," Bolland said. "I think it's one team that's like the Blackhawks, a team that's coming up and is going to do big things. Let's see if we can do the same thing we did [in Chicago]."
Frolik was drafted No. 10 in 2006 by the Florida Panthers. Chicago acquired Frolik on Feb. 9, 2011, and he signed a three-year extension with the Blackhawks four months later. Frolik, who scored 21 goals each of his first two NHL seasons, became one of Chicago's top penalty-killing forwards.