Prospect Spotlight: Lukas Reichel is a Swiss Army Knife of a prospect
Lukas Reichel comes from a lineage of professional hockey players.
His dad Martin played in the top German professional league for 20 years, and his uncle Robert spent 13 seasons in the NHL.
So it’s no surprise that Lukas has followed suit.
And the 6-foot, 170-pound winger is not disappointing in his first season in North America, registering 38 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 39 games for the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, the minor-league affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The crafty, hard-working winger who was born in Nurnberg, Germany is right on stride.
“Reichel is a speedy, two-way winger who uses his skating and puck carrying abilities to help drive the transition game,” FCHockey scout Austin Broad said. “His skillset makes him a valuable asset at 5-on-5, the power play and the penalty kill. He can be deployed as a Swiss Army Knife and make an impact for the Blackhawks in all three zones.”
The Blackhawks brass have taken notice of his versatility and hard work.
Reichel was called up to the for his first NHL game earlier this season and was slotted on the top line next to Patrick Kane.
He’s since played five games and did not look out of place, even for a 19-year-old.
So let’s dive a little deeper into the hockey traits of Reichel to discover what might make him a dependable winger for the Blackhawks in the near future.
WHO IS LUKAS REICHEL?
Reichel was born on May 17, 2002. He played his minor hockey in the Starbulls Rosenheim system in Germany, and is an unrelenting two-way winger who can chip in offensively.
The young German was selected by the Blackhawks in the first round (No. 17) of the 2020 NHL Draft.
Reichel models his style of play after Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Petterson. He states that he is not the biggest guy and not the strongest guy on the ice, but that he’s a smart player and a good skater and that he likes to shoot.
So far, so good in that comparison.
Reichel started his junior career in the German Junior league (DNL U20) as a 16 year old and registered 42 points (11 goal, 31 assists) in 32 games for Eisbaren Berlin during the 2018-19 season.
The next year he laced up for team Germany at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he notched five points (three goals, two assists) in seven games despite being one of the youngest players on the team.
Reichel followed that up by being selected to Germany’s roster for the 2021IIHF Men’s World Championship, where he was third on the team in scoring with six points (two goals, four assists) in nine games — while playing with men against some of the best players in the world.
The youngster played two seasons in the top German League (DEL) and was second in points-per-game (0.71) among draft eligible players behind only Tim Stutzle — the third overall pick by the Ottawa Senators. That’s some pretty impressive company.
The current season, his first in North America, has Reichel thriving in the minors. He has continued his offensive prowess by leading the IceHogs by a sizeable margin in points, and ranks second in total points for all U20 players.
The name of the game is speed for Reichel. Even if he is not producing on the scoresheet, you will notice him when he’s on the ice. He is a tenacious forward who prides himself on covering both ends of the ice, and with his phenomenal skating he is able to do so with ease.
His edge work is very strong as well, and he can transition with quickness and efficiency. It is very difficult for opposing opponents to evade him when he is chasing them down in a defensive role.
“Everything he does comes from his skating ability, when attacking off the rush he is so effective because of the speed he attacks with,” Broad said. “He has the shot and playmaking ability to keep the defense guessing and should translate his game quite nicely to the NHL level.”
The other aspect of his game that stands out is his hockey IQ.
Reichel knows the game at a different level and can learn very quickly. His awareness and positioning allow him to win puck battles, even with him being on the smaller side in terms of his body weight.
AREAS OF IMPROVEMENTS
One area of improvement that Reichel needs to address is his small physique. He is aware of this dilemma and knows that he needs to get stronger, if not bigger, in order to make the jump to the next level on a full-time basis.
Too many times Reichel is easily pushed off the puck and this can lead to reversal of puck possession. Puck possession is very important in order to generate scoring chances, so this will need to be remedied.
Another aspect of the game that Reichel requires to improve upon is his willingness to hold on to the puck more. This was apparent with his call up to the Blackhawks. He seemed hesitant at times with the puck and was getting rid of it instead of taking an extra second or two to make the right play.
These areas can be fixed, and all that is required is some time to develop physically and mentally.
He is only 19 years of age, so no need to rush him just yet.
Reichel is a top prospect in the Blackhawks system, if not the top prospect in Chicago’s entire prospect base. And deservedly so.
He is a speedy and responsible player that possesses all the attributes that will eventually translate into a solid NHL player.
“His skillset makes him a valuable asset at 5v5, on the power play, and the penalty kill,” Broad mentioned. “I envision him becoming a top-six forward for the Blackhawks in the near future.”
Reichel will need to bulk up and become stronger, as well as develop some confidence in himself when making the jump to the NHL.
Once he addresses these weaknesses, we may see this young German develop into a solid and dependable two-way player in Chicago for many years.