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Blackhawks trade Bolland, Frolik; re-sign Bickell

by Dan Rosen

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 comfortably free up enough room under the NHL salary cap to re-sign Bryan Bickell to a four-year contract and open some roster room for a few minor-league prospects.

It all happened early in the 2013 NHL Draft at Prudential Center on Sunday.

Bryan Bickell
Bryan Bickell - 2013 PLAYOFFS
Left Wing - CHI
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 17
SOG: 49 | +/-: 11
Bolland, who scored the Cup-clinching goal, was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for picks No. 51 and 117 in the 2013 draft as well as a fourth-round pick in 2014. Bolland, 27, has one year and $3.375 million remaining on his contract.

Frolik, who had the primary assist on Bolland's winning goal, was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for picks No. 74 and 134. Frolik has one year and $2.33 million left on his contract.

Bickell's new contract reportedly is worth $16 million, a cap hit of $4 million per season.

"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 during a conference call Sunday night. "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 the regular season, when he played primarily on Chicago's third line with Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg. He has 90 points, including 40 goals, in 220 NHL games since making his debut during the 2006-07 season.

"Bick sort of stepped it up when he was given a chance," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "I think in the playoffs he got a bigger role and he was able to do more, but he was very effective in the regular season, too."

Bowman explained that he traded Bolland and Frolik because the Blackhawks have players from their American Hockey League team, the Rockford IceHogs, who are ready to make the jump to the NHL in 2013-14. He included Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith on that list.

Pirri, who could take over as the Blackhawks' No. 2 center, led the AHL in scoring with 75 points in 76 games.

"He's done everything we've asked him to do to this point," Bowman said. "He's slowly grown his game each year and he's sort of rounded his game out. He's not just an offensive guy, he plays in all situations. To lead the whole league in scoring as a 21-year-old kid, that's pretty impressive. I don't know that that ever happens in the American League. Usually it's more career minor-league guys, so for him to do what he did last year shows he's got a lot of talent. We've brought him along slowly and we're excited about what he brings."

Bowman still has some things to address in free agency, including re-signing defenseman Nick Leddy and forward Marcus Kruger. They will become restricted free agents if they remain unsigned on July 5, but Bowman said he will get them signed.

Stalberg, center Michal Handzus, forward Jamal Mayers, defenseman Michal Rozsival and goalie Ray Emery are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 5.

Bowman, though, isn't sure how much he will dabble into the unrestricted free agent market because he re-signed Bickell and wants to give some of the AHL guys a chance to prove themselves in the NHL.

"That's sort of the way the puzzle is supposed to work, if you draft well and develop well they're going to become NHL players and then you don't need to go into the free-agent market," Bowman said. "We've kept the core group together and Bick was clearly a big contributor for our team, so we had to keep him and his style of play around, and then we're looking forward from there."

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.

"It has nothing to do with Dave Bolland or Michael Frolik, they contributed greatly to our success and we certainly wish them well," Bowman said of the trades. "They've been great Blackhawks and they represented us well, but we've got a lot of young guys and there are only 12 spots up front and we're not losing many players. We've gotta find a spot for some of these guys to play."


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