Over the next few days, I will be looking at each team n the NHL and identifying a couple of players in particular that fit into one of two categories based on the once popular kids game, Chutes and Ladders. The players in the “chutes” category will be players who exceeded expectations last season, and will have a difficult time avoiding a slide in the coming season. The “ladder” category will consist of players who are ready to climb a level in their play and step up a notch.
Chutes: Bryan Bickell – The power forward parlayed a career playoff performance into a 4 year, $16M contract. Whether or not that sudden surge of offense is the maturation of a big man or if it is a case of being in the right place at the right time will be determined. With the money comes the expectation and Bickell is now on everyone’s radar.
Ladders: Andrew Shaw – His performance in the playoffs allowed the Blackhawks to not have to think twice about trading Dave Bolland. Shaw moved to the middle in the playoffs and performed admirably. Entering the last year of his entry level deal, Shaw could put himself in position for a big payday. He plays his role to a “T” and knows what he needs to do to keep the coach’s confidence.