Throughout the beginning of the season, the Blackhawks have been trying to find a delicate balance with their young, unproven skaters. On one hand, it’s beneficial for the developing youngsters to skate alongside veteran talents, learning and growing with them. On the other hand, however, players who are expected to be cornerstones of Chicago’s rebuild need all the reps together that they can get, as they’ll eventually fill out the top lines.
So far this season, head coach Luke Richardson and the Blackhawks have paired young players like Connor Bedard with others like Nick Foligno and Ryan Donato. It’s a strategy that was somewhat the idea behind the construction of this year’s roster, as GM Kyle Davidson brought in Foligno, Donato, Corey Perry, and Taylor Hall to offer their experience along with their respective skill sets.
Just before Sunday night’s game against the Sabres, though, we learned that the Blackhawks would be switching their top line to allow their young skaters to gel. After a move earlier this month that saw 24-year-old Philipp Kurashev join Bedard on the top line, Lukas Reichel was promoted to the other top wing spot.
Lukas Reichel’s Fit
The Blackhawks certainly had high hopes for Reichel coming into the season, and he had been disappointing through the team’s first 15 games. He didn’t log his first goal until last Thursday and was eventually moved back to the wing, a more comfortable position for him than the center spot where he had been.
Today’s move was intended to ignite Reichel’s offensive production, and it certainly did so. He picked up an assist on the goal by Kurashev and had the second-biggest impact on the game of any Blackhawk, according to HockeyStatCards on Twitter/X.
Philipp Kurashev’s Fit
Now ten games into his season, the 24-year-old became a point-per-game player tonight, picking up points nine and ten on his goal and assist. His time on the first line has served him well and he’s been a pleasant surprise for Chicago all season. With Reichel now joining the pair on the top line, all three players could be freed up thanks to their abilities to score, and Kurashev could produce even more. With two points in the line’s first look tonight, he’s off to a great start.
Through a season full of shuffling lines for the Blackhawks, this new group of youngsters could cement itself on the top shift. The addition of Reichel is already proving to be beneficial to the scoring column, and should only continue as the trio gets more comfortable with one another. At ages 24, 21, and 18, Kurashev, Reichel, and Bedard could be linemates for many more years, depending on the ascension of Chicago’s other prospects.