Chicago Blackhawks left winger Bryan Bickell enters the upcoming season facing an uncertain future with the defending Stanley Cup champions. Carrying an annual salary-cap hit of $4 million through 2016-17, the 29-year-old has struggled with inconsistency in recent seasons. He was also waylaid through the 2015 playoffs by vertigo symptoms.
In an effort to free up salary-cap space for this season and next, the Blackhawks spent the off-season shopping Bickell. Sportsnet's Mark Spector reports they recently contacted the Edmonton Oilers regarding a possible swap for defenseman Nikita Nikitin, but the Oilers rejected the proposal.
On Friday, the Blackhawks placed the 6-foot-4, 223-pound left wing on waivers. Unsurprisingly, he went unclaimed. Instead of demoting him, however, management will keep him on the roster to open the season.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun believes placing Bickell on waivers was a signal to other clubs not yet contacted by the Blackhawks that the winger is available. Given his salary and poor production, however, they're unlikely to find many takers.
It's been suggested this move could also serve as a wake-up call for Bickell to elevate his game. Doing so still might not assure his future in Chicago, but it will certainly help his trade value.
WEISS WAITING ON CONTRACT OFFER
Former Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss is the most notable player remaining in this year's NHL free-agent pool. Bought out by the Wings in June, there's been little news on the status of the 32-year-old.
TSN's Darren Dreger reports Weiss rejected several professional tryout offers. Dreger didn't provide details on the center's plans, but it appears he is willing to wait for a contract offer.
A two-time 60-point center with the Florida Panthers, Weiss's performance noticeably declined following season-ending wrist surgery in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. Signed by the Wings as a free agent in 2013, injuries and inconsistency limited him to only 29 points in 78 games over two seasons in Detroit.
As the season progresses, perhaps a club lacking depth at center might make a contract pitch for Weiss. Given his recent history, he'll likely only receive a one-year deal worth around $850K. That's been the going rate for players who earned contracts after successful training camp tryouts.
TINORDI A POTENTIAL TRADE CHIP FOR MONTREAL
The Montreal Canadiens could soon face a difficult decision regarding defenseman Jarred Tinordi. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder continues to struggle in his efforts to earn a full-time roster spot, spending the past three seasons shuttling between the Habs and their farm team.
Tinordi, 23, is currently on a one-way, one-year, two-way contract and must clear waivers this season if he's to be returned to the minors. GM Marc Bergevin could be reluctant to risk losing the big blueliner to another club via the waiver wire.
With the start of the regular season fast approaching, Tinordi's status is worth watching. If he hits the trade block, the asking price could be an affordable young player or a draft pick.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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