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Blackhawks assign Lukas Reichel to Rockford

Reichel was one of seven players sent to the AHL on Tuesday morning.

Chicago Blackhawks v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In a bit of a surprise announcement on Tuesday morning, the Chicago Blackhawks confirmed that 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel will not be starting the 2022-23 NHL season with the parent club.

Reichel was one of seven players assigned to the Rockford IceHogs, along with defenseman Isaak Phillips and forwards Cole Guttman, Michal Teply, Josiah Slavin, David Gust and Kale Howarth. The final two players on that list were released from professional tryouts before the assignment.

With a pair of preseason games still left for the Blackhawks, it seemed like Reichel would’ve been kept around to get him as much NHL exposure (or as much as the preseason provides) as possible before a possible AHL assignment — although the recent injury to Boris Katchouk also created another potential roster spot for Reichel in Chicago. This assignment means Reichel is probably a lock for the IceHogs lineup in two preseason games against the Iowa Wild on Wednesday and Thursday.

The clock is now ticking on Reichel’s entry-level contract after he crossed the nine-game threshold with 11 NHL games last season, so this move is not a cost-saving measure, it appears to be part of the Blackhawks’ current philosophy of not rushing any prospects to the NHL level — as multiple beat reporters pointed out on Twitter.

Although Reichel is starting this season in the AHL, it feels unlikely he’ll remain there for the entire season.