Before Connor Bedard was taken No. 1 overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, Lukas Reichel was considered the organization's future cornerstone piece.
The Hawks' farm system was thin on centers and wings that could develop into All-Star players, except Reichel.
His puck skills were amazing, his shot was outstanding, and he was fast with the puck. Then he was forgotten the moment the Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL Draft Lottery and the right to pick Bedard.
Reichel has played like a forgotten prospect during the first three months of his first full NHL season.
The hope was he could be an outstanding second-line center. The experiment failed and he was sent back to the wing. His play never got better and ended up as a healthy scratch at one point. Then he was moved to the fourth line. That did not get him going.
Head coach Luke Richardson was trying everything outside of sending him down to the AHL to play in Rockford. His play was declining to the point where there was banter about whether Reichel should even be tendered a contract after the season ends since he will be a restricted free agent.
The Hawks desperately need someone to provide offense outside of Connor Bedard especially with Taylor Hall out for the season. Reichel's talent made him a clear candidate, but his production spoke otherwise. The guy had just two goals heading into last Tuesday's game against the Colorado Avalanche.
Skating on the top line with Bedard and playing against the top team in the Central division must have sparked something in Reichel. He was the player that we saw flashes of offensive brilliance last season during his brief NHL stint.
Reichel scored an amazing goal set up by Bedard.
Talk about burying a shot in the back of the net. Bedard's connection with Reichel provided a brief glimpse into how amazing those two can be together.
It was not just scoring an impressive goal. It was Reichel being active the entire game. The Athletic's Scott Powers broke down just how impressive Reichel was.
Lost in Ryan Donato's first goal of the game was the fact that Reichel sprinted to the net to make sure if Donato missed the rebound, he would be there to bury the shot. That type of effort has not been seen a ton this season from Reichel.
It was just one game.
He played well against the Red Wings in Detroit in late November and then proceeded to be a non-factor for most of December.
He needs to build off this impressive game against the Avs. Reichel needs to be a player teams have to account for so it can open up scoring chances for Bedard.
Right now teams are doing everything they can to limit Bedard because they know he is the Hawks' offense. The Chicago Blackhawks' rare victories usually involve Bedard scoring a goal or registering an assist and then getting something from the third line since the second line has struggled to produce offense.
If Reichel can keep repeating what he did on Tuesday, then things open up for Bedard. It looks like Donato is going to stay on the top line as well. He was skating with Reichel and Bedard after Philipp Kurashev was a last-minute scratch due to illness
Maybe this is the line shuffling needed to get the top two lines to produce more offense. It will not do much good if Reichel cannot put his early season struggles behind him.