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Rebuild Report: Lukas Reichel Headlines the 2020 Draft



The Chicago Blackhawks 2020 Draft was part of the bizzaro COVID affected selections that were all done virtually. Teams were essentially throwing darts in the later rounds as leagues had been shuttered and players not nearly as heavily scouted as in the past. Lukas Reichel would go to the Blackhawks in the first round and it’s looked good so far.

More on that in a moment.

Chicago Hockey Now continues the Rebuild Report series with the one draft that might yield talent in the mid to late rounds unlike any other.

To set the stage, the graph below comes from the well written Dobber Prospects piece  that focuses on the success of draft picks by round in the draft.  This is where our story starts.

Photo from Dobber Prospects – 5/16/20 article by Jokke Nevalainen

The big change for the 2020-2022 drafts center around the “hit” rate. Since many of those draft picks are still developing, it’ll be more of a look at where they’re at right now and what their contract status is with the team.

Chicago Blackhawks 2020 Draft Primer

The Blackhawks made  the “everyone but four teams make it in the bubble” version of the playoffs in 2020. Chicago stunned Edmonton in the play-in round and then bowed out in five games to Vegas in a far more realistic picture of what the team truly was.

Regardless, optimism was high because of that series win. Instead of having a crack at the top pick due to winning, the Blackhawks chose 17th.

17th overall pick (1st round) – Lukas Reichel (LW)
Where is he now? Chicago
Contract: Entry Level Deal Through 2024

Reichel is on track and will be in Chicago for all of next season, barring a complete regression. It’s exciting for Reichel as he will have a chance to potentially play on a line with Connor Bedard. It’s expected that Reichel will be eased in, but does he ever a chance to be one of the main benefactors of the 2023 Lottery Win.

46th overall pick (2nd round) – Drew Commesso (G)
Where is he now? Heading to Rockford
Contract: Entry Level Deal Through 2026

Commesso finished his junior season up at Boston University but by signing the entry-level deal, he’s headed to Rockford. The 20-year-old netminder will have ample time to adjust to the professional game as well as be eased in. There’s no doubt he’ll be in good hands in Rockford. But for more on Commesso, take a look CHN’s profile from last month: Blackhawks of Tomorrow Piece on Commesso

79th overall pick (3rd round) – Landon Slaggert (LW)
Where is he now? University of Notre Dame
Contract: Unsigned

Slaggert’s numbers were not as impressive as his 2021-22 returns and while he’s wearing the “A” at the University of Notre Dame, the Blackhawks were certainly expecting to see his numbers climb from what was an impressive season. Slaggert could very well be betting on himself, however. If he has a great senior season, he could forego a contract with the Blackhawks and open up his chances with every other team in the NHL.

81st overall pick (3rd round) –Wyatt Kaiser (D)
Where is he now? Chicago
Contract: Entry-Level Deal signed through 2025

Kaiser was inked by general manager Kyle Davidson back in March. He played nine games with the Blackhawks and recorded three points. Depending on what Davidson does in the offseason, Kaiser will likely be competing for a spot in Chicago and if it doesn’t work out, he’ll get some seasoning in Rockford.

However, in those nine games, Kaiser held his own. At just 20, there’s plenty of time for him to figure out his role. Chicago has plenty of time–and patience–to allow for it.

110th overall pick (4th round) – Michael Krutil (D)
Where is he now? Czech League
Contract: Unsigned

Krutil has 28 games with Rockford but seven of those games were from the 2021-22. He spent in the Czech league and doesn’t look likely to make his way back to Chicago.

141st overall pick (5th round) – Isaak Phillips (D)
Where is he now? Chicago
Contract: Entry Level Deal Signed Through 2024

Phillips has played 20 games in Chicago, with 16 of them during the 2022-23 season. 51 games were in Rockford. With the final year of his contract being this season, Phillips is in a bizarre sort of “show-me” state. The Blackhawks are going to be adding players to get to the cap floor, but Phillips could play his way into a bottom pairing or even as the seventh defenseman. Knowing Kyle Davidson’s plan, it’s likely he’ll get his chances. But this could be the season where the assessment on him determines his NHL or AHL placing.

172nd overall pick (6th round) – Chad Yetman (C)
Where is he now?
Contract: Unsigned

Yetman bounced around the AHL, playing with the IceHogs in 2021-22 before going between Cleveland and Belleville. Yetman played 60 games with the Indy Fuel in the ECHL.

188th overall pick (7th round) – Louis Crevier (D)
Where is he now? Rockford
Contract: Entry Level Deal Signed Through 2024

A good hit in that a seventh round pick played 62 games in Rockford. Whether he plays in Chicago is likely a guess, but a 6’8 defenseman doesn’t grow on trees. Certainly one to keep an eye on.

2020 Draft By The Numbers and Final Thoughts

  • How many have made the NHL roster? 3 (Reichel); (Kaiser); (Phillips)
  • Number of total NHL games played with Chicago:  33 (Reichel); 20 (Phillips); 9 (Kaiser)

It’s still a little too early to expect anything from the draft class, but there is certainly some headway with Reichel, Commesso,  Kaiser and Phillips. In fact, the 2020 Draft has provided the first glimmer of hope for the Blackhawks in terms of value. Of the classes profiled so far, chances exist that they could get something out of what’s been drafted.

Some may not pan out–after all–every fanbase overvalues its prospects because of the hope involved. But after six versions of this series, it’s the most optimistic Blackhawks fans have experienced.

Previous Rebuild Report Draft Pick Series: 2015 Draft – Swing and a Miss | 2016 Draft – Delightfully Drafting DeBrincat |   2017 Draft – Trading to only Trade It Away Later | 2018 Draft – Boqvist Goes Eighth | 2019 Draft – Dach Instead of Defense