Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Last Year’s Top Blackhawks Prospect Now In Line For Demotion To AHL

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When 20-year-old Lukas Reichel wrapped up his first major stint in the NHL at the end of last season, excitement was at an all-time high. After a few games with Chicago in January, Reichel finished the season with 19 games with the Blackhawks, where he tallied six points and six assists. He was viewed as the long-term answer on offense for a rebuilding team and was labeled the franchise’s top prospect until Connor Bedard was drafted.

But Reichel has looked like a completely different player so far this season. Despite getting 15 minutes of ice time per game over his 50 contests, Reichel has tallied just three goals and seven assists, with many of those helpers being secondary, without making a huge impact on the play. Further, Reichel “leads” the Blackhawks in negative plus-minus, with his number at -28.

The Blackhawks’ coaching staff has certainly taken notice of Reichel’s offensive “slump”, if that’s what we’re still calling it. The youngster has been scratched from the lineup twice in the last eight games, a huge blow for the outlook of a player who was expected to be on the top line at this point in the year. Even when he’s in the lineup, Reichel is seeing more limited opportunities than ever. In the second period of Tuesday’s loss to the Canucks, he was on the ice at even strength for just 69 seconds in the second period. Sure, the Blackhawks struggled throughout the night, but Reichel is officially in the doghouse.

The Blackhawks have tried just about everything to get Reichel going offensively – except the “last resort”. The next time the young skater is a healthy scratch, the next logical step is to send him to the AHL. It’s a somewhat risky move, as Reichel’s confidence likely isn’t at an all-time high currently. A demotion could shred any he has left.

However, Reichel needs a reset more than any player, ever. Whether the issues he’s currently facing are mental, physical, or a combination of both, a stint with the IceHogs could be just what Reichel needs to get going again and return to the production we saw last season. The Blackhawks have tried everything else with their former first-round pick, and it’s time to exercise the last resort.

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