The Blackhawks announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed 2020 first-round draft pick Lukas Reichel to a three-year entry-level contract with an annual salary cap hit of $925,000.
Selected 17th overall in the 2020 NHL draft, Reichel is arguably the Blackhawks most important prospect who hasn’t played in the NHL yet, so it’s good to see him locked in to come to North America next season.
The 6-foot, 176-pound forward scored 51 points (22 G, 29 A) in 80 games over the last two seasons with Eisbären Berlin in Germany’s top professional league, the DEL. During the postseason, Reichel was the No. 1 center and added five points in nine playoff games, helping Eisbären win the 2021 DEL championship. He also recently tallied six points (2 G, 4 A) in ten games for Germany at the 2021 IIHF World Championship.
Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman had this to say about the signing:
“Lukas made tremendous strides in his second year as a professional. The game appeared to slow down for him this past season, which allowed his play-making skills to be on full display. 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.”
Reichel took strides this season beyond just points: he shifted to playing center predominantly after years as a winger and excelled in the role thanks to his play-driving abilities, unrelenting forecheck, and solid defensive responsibility. Although it’s not known if Reichel will play center with the Blackhawks, the added versatility of position makes him even more useful to the Blackhawks in the future.
Because Reichel was drafted out of Europe, he is eligible play in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs or join the Blackhawks. Where Reichel plays next season will ultimately depend on both his readiness for the NHL and organization depth at forward.