Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Blackhawks Sign Lukas Reichel To ‘Prove-It’ Deal


As the Blackhawks entered the offseason, the unquestionably biggest decision that the front office had to make was what to do with pending RFA Lukas Reichel. The young forward faced high expectations after ending the previous season with a bang but wasn’t able to continue his impressive offensive production in 2023-24. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, as he was scheduled to hit restricted free agency this summer.

With Chicago placed in a sticky spot in regards to the Reichel decision, they essentially were left with three options. They could offer him a short-term deal, trust him with a long-term contract, or get rid of him via trade or free agency.

On Tuesday, GM Kyle Davidson and Reichel chose the first option. The team announced they had signed Reichel to a two-year deal with a $1.2 million cap hit. It’s a slight raise for Reichel, who previously carried a cap hit of $925,000.

The 2020 17th-overall pick now has an opportunity to show the Blackhawks he can be the franchise cornerstone the team expected him to be. It’s truly a prove-it deal, and it’s clear Chicago isn’t quite ready to offer him a long-term contract given his lack of production this year. However, the fact that the club got him at a reasonable cost means there’s a chance the deal is a huge win for both sides. If he’s able to continue to develop as the team initially expected, he can still play a meaningful role in their quest for a championship.

While Reichel was underwhelming throughout the season, he did show promising signs of improvement at the end of the season. After being sent down to Rockford for the AHL playoffs, he scored two goals in their final game of the year. On both plays, he was authoritative in calling for the puck and showed quick, confident decision-making in shooting it. If that late performance can translate to the NHL level next season, Reichel will be a steal at his new cost.

If Reichel shows drastic improvement next year, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was a highly valued trade target for other teams. Although the Blackhawks would likely be better served keeping him and letting him continue to develop, he could garner significant interest from potential trade partners.

It’s clear the Blackhawks chose the best option when it comes to Reichel’s future. While not over-committing to a player whose production has been anything but a certainty, Chicago also gave him an opportunity to prove himself. Will Reichel be able to do just that?

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