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Lukas Reichel Showed All The Right Moves Despite Series Loss

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The Rockford IceHogs may have lost their playoff series, but there was a silver lining in Lukas Reichel being that dominant player the Chicago Blackhawks were hoping to see all season long.

Sure, it’s at the AHL level, but the flash and production Reichel showed while there is precisely what the Blackhawks wanted. Once called back up in May, Reichel brought that swagger and flash with him to Chicago. There was the drop pass where he drew two defenders and played dished it back to pick up the primary assist on the goal. It was a little shake-and-bake that led to a goal in the Blackhawks season finale.

All the right moves were there–and they continued into the AHL playoffs. Now, they have to carry on into next season–and beyond.

Lukas Reichel Finds Confidence That Lacked in First 50 Games

For as much emphasis that is placed on numbers and value, much of a hockey player’s performance boils down to mindset, too. Frustration cannot be quantified–just ask Taylor Raddysh, Seth Jones, or Reichel, all of whom seemed snakebitten at some point during the season. Raddysh didn’t get the bump he hoped for, experiencing a season that was much worse statistically than the 2022-23 campaign. Jones figured it out in the end, potting seven additional goals after being stuck at one for nearly two months.

Reichel’s renaissance occurred after being sent back to Rockford, where he honed his game and rediscovered much of what had been lacking–confidence. Prior to being sent down, there almost semed a reluctance to go to the net–or even engage in some of the puck battles that produce scoring chances. Quantifying that confidence piece is next to impossible, but the eye test revealed a player who just couldn’t get past what wasn’t happening–namely goals and assists.

So the point-per-game production in a short series against a very good team is encouraging. But that momentum has to carry over if the Blackhawks–and Reichel–are going to see the gains they’re both seeking.

Offseason Will Reveal More

In the Blackhawks Bottom Line feature for Reichel, the first contract negotiation for him will reveal a number of things. Namely, will he get a similar show-me contract that Philipp Kurashev received? Kurashev cashed in–and then rewarded the Blackhawks for the pay bump (albeit in arbitration) with a career year. Reichel needs a similar response. The playoff performance in Rockford shows what is capable.

But that same output needs to exist in the NHL, too. Reichel will be 22 at the start of next season, and with what is expected to be a more improved lineup, he has a chance to experience a breakout season as well. The Lukas Reichel seen following his callup and AHL playoff performance is one that will help nudge the Blackhawks process along.

It’s there. Now, everyone will see if it continues into the 2024-25 season, too.

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