Lukas Reichel, the Chicago Blackhawks’ first-round draft pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, has shown success this season with six goals and 11 assists in 20 games played in the DEL, Germany’s top league. According to InStat, Reichel is playing 14:51 minutes a night, with 2:20 coming on the power play. In this article, we will breakdown a recent game to analyze his skills and give Blackhawks fans a little look into the future.
On Feb. 19, Reichel’s Eisbaren Berlin team beat the Kolner Haie 6–1 with the Chicago prospect chipping in with a goal and an assist. Reichel played 14:01 this evening, with 1:38 on the power play. The forward was a factor in all three zones in the game and showed skills that made him the 17th overall pick.
Reichel lost the opening face off of the night, something that has been a struggle for him this season. He would win two of nine at the circle throughout the contest, a poor 22%, which is extremely low compared to his 44% face off percentage for the season. As an 18-year-old playing against older competition, and expected to be a winger in the NHL, this is not an alarming issue. Reichel shows he is willing to dig in and lean into his opponent to tie him up and allow his teammates the ability to make plays for the puck.
Each shift in the offensive zone, Reichel shows a nose for the net, almost as if he has a magnetic force with the blue paint. He works his way around defenders with shiftiness, a quality reminiscent of Patrick Sharp, and lets himself be a nuisance to the defenders and goaltender. He only generated one shot in the game, but was a threat with the puck for his team on most shifts.
The 6-foot, 172-pound Germany native carried the puck with confidence. Reichel played a simple game through the center of the ice, kept his head up for the puck and had his stick on the ice looking for the puck from his linemates. A glaring positive attribute was his ability to not slow down to make plays. With a wider ice surface in Germany, Reichel is able to use his slick stickhandling and ability to make plays with the puck away from his body, protecting the puck from the defender.
A few times playing on the wing in the game, Reichel carried the puck into his defender and was willing to take the body in order to make a play. His lack of size was evident on a few occasions, but this is not a concern for someone his age playing against older competition. On almost every defensive zone breakout, he is an option for his defenseman along the boards. He shows his defensive responsibility can turn into an easy exit pass quickly.
His skating is very good. He has an easy stride with good edge work. Reichel can turn in transition quickly, without losing speed, and backcheck with tenacity. His shiftiness in his hips allows him to make moves around defenders and even avoid contact. His forward burst into the offensive zone is tough to defend, showcasing a strong lower half that allows him to battle for dump-ins and pucks along the boards. He does not have blazing speed, but should be sneaky quick as he continues to mature.
Reichel’s goal in the contest came on the power play. Working as a winger, Eisbaren Berlin won the draw, which allowed Reichel to set up shop in front of the net. A nice tic-tac-toe pass ended up with puck on Reichel’s stick for an easy goal into a wide-open net. Reichel did an excellent job of positioning himself in the view of goaltender Justin Pogge’s vision, kept his stick on the ice and found a gift because of his positioning and attention to detail to find open ice. Many young forwards will not make the transition Reichel did to the far post, instead becoming stationary in front of the net, and allow the defender to tie up a stick.
His assist in the outing was almost the same exact power play setup that found Reichel in front of the net, rotated himself toward the right circle to give his linemate an option for a pass and found his teammate coming backdoor for an easy goal. Reichel showed good vision and anticipation on the play, knowing exactly where his teammate was going to be for another tic-tac-toe passing play goal.
In the defensive zone, Reichel keeps his head on a swivel and knows his responsibilities, a quality he was touted for on draft day. He shows active feet on the forecheck. The wider ice makes the forecheck a little more difficult since defenders can backpedal a bit and give themselves room, but Reichel does a nice job with an active stick, attempting to take away passing lanes. His willingness to forecheck and skate hard on the backcheck is a pleasant skill to have in the NHL. The IQ in his defensive zone was not needed much in the game, but it is evident he wants to defend.
His ability to read plays was evident when he stole a stretch pass in the neutral zone. Reichel retreated to center ice, read the pass and intercepted an opportunity that would have lead to an odd-man breakout the other way. The play was ruled offside as Reichel rushed into the offensive zone, but Reichel positioned himself in an excellent spot to make a play, another example of his ability to read the play and force a turnover.
One thing from the game that would need improvement was his tendency to try and get the puck off his stick after battles along the boards, which turned into a few giveaways in the contest. Reichel’s overall care for the puck is very good, so this could be a need for more comfort along the boards, which can come with size. He shows he can make plays in close, with the puck at his feet, through center ice, so this transition to along the boards should be quite an easy one.