On Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks signed prospect left wing Lukas Reichel to a three-year entry-level contract worth $925,000 per season. If he begins his career and plays enough games next year, the contract will carry through the 2023-24 season.
The Blackhawks have signed 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel to a three-year entry-level deal worth $925,000 a year. The German winger will get every opportunity to make the team out of camp in the fall.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) June 9, 2021
Chicago Blackhawks Sign Prospect Lukas Reichel
In the 2020 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks selected Reichel with their first0round pick, at 17th overall. Going into the draft that season, Reichel played for Eisbaren Berlin in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). The DEL, a German professional ice hockey league, exposed the young winger to professional hockey in Europe (compared to the more typical college or major junior hockey routes in North America).
In his draft year, Reichel scored 24 points (12 goals and 12 assists) over 42 contests. This past year, his production improved to 27 points (10 goals and 17 assists) in four fewer games played. He also represented Germany on their U20 World Junior team in 2019-20, as well as on their International Junior team. He did so on both those squads again in 2020-21, as well as on Germany’s IIHF World Championship team. Reichel remains arguably one of Germany’s top NHL prospects and could definitely suit up regularly for the Blackhawks next season.
“Lukas made tremendous strides in his second year as a professional,” Blackhawks president of hockey operations and general manager Stan Bowman said after the signing. “Bringing him over to North America is the logical next step for his continued development and we’re excited to be able to add such a young, dynamic player to our forward group.”
What This Means for the Future
Based on Bowman’s statement, Reichel will be in North America next season. Whether that is on the Blackhawks roster, or with their AHL affiliate, remains to be seen.
Chicago, in recent years, brought their top young talent immediately to the NHL level (see Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist) in the first year of their contracts. Given their youth movement and ambition to rebuild, the same could very well be true for Reichel. Especially considering his production at the professional level in Germany, his game could be more ready for the NHL than Boqvist was in his first season.
With five forwards about to hit free agency (albeit four of which are restricted free agents), Reichel has an opportunity. He would help them avoid the salary cap too with his cheap contract. With Chicago, that could be a huge deciding factor given the money they have tied up in longer deals already. If he slots in at the NHL level, expect to see him given a chance in the team’s top six, if not their top nine at the very least.
LWOS’ Ben Kerr states the following on Reichel as part of his pre-draft scouting report:
“Reichel scores the majority of his goals in tight to the net. He has quick hands and can deke a goalie in tight, or get the puck up quickly into a tight area. He also can bang in a rebound, quickly one-time a pass, or deflect in a teammate’s shot. From further out, his wrist shot is very accurate and features a good release. Reichel’s quick hands allow him to toe-drag and quickly change the angle before shooting. His shot also has decent power. This is also true of his one-timer. He gets it off effectively but still has room to add a bit more velocity. As he gets stronger, this may help his game. Reichel can also play the role of a playmaker. His strong possession skills help him to control the puck down low and extend plays. This can help him to set up teammates for scoring chances once they get open.”
Main Photo: AUGSBURG, GERMANY – OCTOBER 04: Lukas Reichel of Eisbaeren Berlin controls the ball during the DEL match between Augsburger Panther and Eisbaeren Berlin at Curt-Frenzel-Stadion on October 4, 2019 in Augsburg, Germany.(Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)