Since the introduction of the salary cap to the NHL in the 2005-06 season, teams have completely flipped upside down in the way that they conduct business. In the days of the massive disparity between the haves and have-nots, for example, high-rolling teams weren’t as concerned with building a roster from the ground up using the minor leagues and their prospect pool.
Today, the opposite is true. With teams operating on such a tight budget, they are forced to draft and develop their talent. Today, it seems the only way to build a championship roster is by getting huge contributions from young players on cheap contracts.
That being said, the Blackhawks are clearly a team building for the future. After shipping off almost all of their big-name players at the trade deadline this year, most of the organization’s news has focused on players that aren’t even on the team yet. Perhaps most notably, Chicago has acquired more draft capital than anyone else in the league for the next few years. Of course, the most headline-worthy of these picks would be the potential for Connor Bedard, if the Blackhawks could win the lottery for the first overall pick. Additionally, the focus has been on the salary cap situation. According to Cap Friendly, Chicago will have $42.169 million in cap space next year. That number implies that the team will likely splurge on a few high-dollar free agents either this off-season or next to complete the rebuild.
Instead of getting caught up fantasizing about players that aren’t even on the roster yet, it’s important to note that the Blackhawks boast one of the top farm systems in the NHL. Two prospects, in particular, have caught the attention of not only the brass in Chicago but around the rest of the league: Lukas Reichel and Kevin Korchinski.
The Blackhawks selected Reichel with the 17th pick in the 2020 Draft. After putting up big numbers in his last season in the DEL after the draft, he moved to the AHL last season, where he dominated as the club’s top prospect. He was finally recalled from Rockford around the trade deadline, as the Blackhawks opened up their roster to evaluate their young talent while pushing for Bedard. In the six games since the move, Reichel has joined the first line with Philipp Kurashev and Andreas Athanasiou and tallied three points.
Reichel’s strength lies in his offensive skill set. The 20-year-old is a speedy puck handler known for his work ethic on the ice. Despite a few concerns about his size, he’s a natural goal scorer already providing an enormous boost to the Blackhawks’ offense.
Korchinski is an 18-year-old blueliner drafted by the Blackhawks seventh overall in the 2022 Draft. Before the draft, he finished second among defenders in the WHL with 61 assists. He remains with the Seattle Thunderbirds today, but fans should expect to see him in Chicago as soon as the start of next season.
The Blackhawks’ top defending prospect is great transitionally, as his strength is carrying the puck smoothly into the offensive zone. He’s 6’2” and growing, giving him a huge upside for the Blackhawks’ roster in the future. While Korchinski has yet to make his NHL debut, it’s clear that he’s already one of the top prospects in Chicago.
The era of Kyle Davidson has started on a high note with a positive outlook over the next few seasons. Perhaps the biggest aspect of their bright future is in the minor leagues. With prospects like Lukas Reichel and Kevin Korchinski on their way through the pipeline, it won’t be long until Chicago’s home-grown talent has a huge impact.