The Blackhawks have yet another salary cap casualty, and this time it’s winger Viktor Tikhonov, who was inked to a one-year, $1.05-million deal in the off-season.
Tikhonov, 27, was brought to the Blackhawks in the off-season by way of the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg, but he hadn’t factored into Chicago lineup in a big way this season and had been a healthy scratch in 10 of the past 11 contests. While Tikhonov could have still found his place on the roster, the Blackhawks needed to shift salary to the AHL in order to bring up winger Bryan Bickell, the $4-million per year winger who has spent the past month with the Rockford IceHogs.
For Bickell, 29, to get back into the Blackhawks’ lineup, Chicago had to free up nearly $1 million in cap space, and the move was made Saturday to put Tikhonov on waivers. Fox Sports' Craig Morgan reported Sunday that Tikhonov had been claimed by the Arizona Coyotes.
Morgan added that Tikhonov's agent, Tom Lynn, said the winger had considered joining the Coyotes in the off-season, so he's pleased to have landed with Arizona.
"He's a stabilizing force who doesn't make mistakes and is always in the right place," Lynn told Morgan. "A coach's son. (Coyotes coach Dave) Tippett will like that."
Tikhonov’s acquisition by the Coyotes is fitting. He was originally drafted by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in the first round, 28th overall in 2008. Tikhonov cracked the Coyotes roster as a 20-year-old in the 2008-09 campaign and suited up for 61 games and registering eight goals and 16 points. He didn’t get back to the NHL for the two seasons following his rookie campaign and played two seasons for the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage before heading for the KHL.
With space freed up with Tikhonov now in Arizona, the Blackhawks officially announced that Bickell has been recalled from the AHL. Bickell had been demoted after failing to find his scoring touch and looking out of place on the Blackhawks early this season, but in the AHL he was able to spark his offensive game. In 12 games with Rockford, Bickell scored seven goals, 14 points and fired 33 shots on goal.
It’s unlikely he carries that type of offensive production into Chicago, but even if he’s able to be a suitable third- or fourth-line producer, that would give the Blackhawks a significant boost. For much of the season, Chicago has been a one-line team, being led by the trio of Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov and rookie Artemi Panarin.
In 366 career NHL games, Bickell has scored 65 goals and 133 points. He has two years remaining on a four-year, $16-million deal he signed in following Chicago’s Stanley Cup victory in 2012-13.