Bryan Bickell plans to play in Austria

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Bryan Bickell has announced that he will play in Austria during the lockout, although he hasn’t specified the team he’ll join, according to CSN Chicago.

Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek and Edmonton’s Corey Potter have also revealed their intentions to play in the Erste Bank Hockey League for the duration of the lockout.

Bickell took a step back last season with 24 points in 71 games with the Chicago Blackhawks after establishing himself as a regular in 2010-11.

This lockout comes at a critical point in his career. He’ll turn 27 in March and he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. If the lockout ends in time to save the 2012-13 season, then a strong showing could prove to be the difference between being forced to test the UFA waters and a long-term extension.