Chicago Blackhawks forward Lukas Reichel is having a rough first full NHL season. Disappointing would be another adjective to use.
The hope was Reichel would match rookie phenom Connor Bedard as an offensive force. Instead, Reichel has played like a prospect who was forgotten about the moment the Hawks drafted Bedard. You would have never thought that Reichel was the Hawks' top prospect before Bedard showed up with how Lukas has played this season.
Reichel has just nine points on the season with just three goals and six assists. On most nights he is a non-factor. With Bedard on injured reserve, you cannot have an immensely talented offensive player such as Reichel doing nothing.
He started the season as the second-line center. When he flopped there, he spent time bouncing up and down the lines as a left wing. He was even a healthy scratch for a game at one point.
Head coach Luke Richardson has tried everything outside of a long-term benching or sending him back to Rockford. Richardson believes he has identified the problem.
Maybe benching Reichel is what he needs instead of studying game tape. At least that is what a long-time Hawks beat reporter suggests.
The rebuilding state the Chicago Blackhawks are in mixed with Reichel only being 21 is probably why he has not been sent back to the AHL. Also having Bedard, Nick Foligno, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Johnson, and Anthony Beauvillier on injured reserve is another reason the Hawks can ill-afford to send him down.
Despite underachieving, Reichel is still considered a top-100 player or prospect under the age of 23 according to the Athletic's Corey Pronman.
Reichel ranks 86th under his Tier 8 category. Tier 8 is considered to be a player that will be at least a middle-of-the-lineup player.
He still ranks Reichel's puck skills as above average. While it is still frustrating to watch Reichel flounder so much this season, he is still a very young player. Sometimes it is easy to forget that the team is not competing for a playoff spot, so it cannot hurt for Reichel to work out his struggles in Chicago rather than in Rockford.
At a minimum, Reichel has to be a factor going forward. He needs to be putting the puck on the net. He has to be creating some offense or at least skate like he is engaged in the game. Right now it is still too early to consider him a bust. If he keeps playing like he has something better to do with his time, then it will only be a matter of time before he is officially a bust.