The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks placed veteran forward Bryan Bickell on waivers Friday in their latest move to reshape their high-priced roster.
A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press of the decision, and spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Blackhawks did not include Bickell as part of their roster moves Friday. Teams have until noon on Saturday to claim Bickell.
In making the move, the Blackhawks freed up $4 million that Bickell’s contract represents against their salary cap.
Chicago has made a series of cost-cutting moves this offseason after winning their third championship in six years. The Blackhawks traded forwards Brandon Saad (to Columbus), Patrick Sharp (to Dallas), Kris Versteeg (to Carolina) and also lost Brad Richards, who signed with Detroit in free agency.
The 29-year-old Bickell is a rugged forward who was the focus of trade speculation this summer. Bickell signed a four-year, $16 million contract after his strong work in the playoffs helped Chicago win the championship in 2013.
Bickell had 14 goals and 28 points in 80 games last season his eighth in Chicago. He managed just five assists in 18 playoff games and experienced vertigo, which forced him to miss most of Chicago’s Stanley Cup final series against Tampa Bay.
The vertigo followed Bickell around for much of the offseason, too, frustrating the 6-foot-4, 233-pound winger. Every time he felt as if he were getting better, the symptoms returned.
The Blackhawks also placed goalie Michael Leighton on waivers, the person said.
The team did announce that it had re-assigned eight players including forward Marko Dano to Rockford, Chicago’s American Hockey League affiliate. Dano is a 20-year-old Austrian who was acquired in the trade that sent Saad to Columbus. Dano had eight goals and 13 assists in 35 games with the Blue Jackets last season.
The Blackhawks open the season hosting the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
According to the person, other players placed on waivers on Friday included Buffalo Sabres defenseman Chad Ruhwedel and Jerome Leduc; Ottawa Senators forward Colin Greening; and Rangers defenseman Raphael Diaz.
AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen in Chicago contributed to this report.