Stan Bowman Speaks: Expectations For Reichel, Pumping the Brakes on Toews, and More

In a Zoom call with Chicago Blackhawks season-ticket holders on Wednesday, Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman touched on several topics on the eve of training camp opening. With several storylines and position battles to keep an eye on as camp opens, one of the most intriguing players to watch during the preseason in Chicago is the 2020 first-round pick, Lukas Reichel. There is an assumption that Reichel has a spot already on the Blackhawks’ NHL roster that is his to lose coming into camp, but the 19-year-old hasn’t earned his place just yet.

After a positive showing at the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase in Minnesota last week, Reichel’s aura and expectations may have gotten more significant in the eyes of Blackhawks fans heading into the 2021-22 season. Bowman expects Reichel to play in the NHL this season, but it’s unknown when that might be.

After playing two professional seasons in the German DEL with Eisbären Berlin, Reichel is coming into his first NHL training camp a few steps ahead in his development than some other prospects have in the past. His first-round pick status does him no favors when it comes to fans having high expectations for him. One of the most important things to remember with Reichel is not to rush him. If he needs time in the AHL this season, so be it. I always come back to the development path the Blackhawks took with Teuvo Teräväinen after taking him in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft. He was given a taste of the NHL when he first came to North America, then worked his way through the Rockford IceHogs and became a regular in the NHL late in his rookie season—eventually becoming a star in the NHL albeit with another club.

As for the return of Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews, Bowman continues to offer a more subdued approach.

This is the right way to go about it, but you can’t blame Blackhawks fans for expecting Toews to come back this season and be the Toews of old. That’s all we’ve heard about Toews this summer, ever since he announced that he expected to come back to the team this season. Most recently, the word was that Toews was “ripped” and in the best shape of his life coming into training camp. Is it fair to expect 82 games of a 2014-version of Toews this season? No. Is it fair to expect that he will play a significant role for the club this season, akin to what has come to be expected of the Captain? From what we’ve been told by pretty much everyone except Stan Bowman, yes.

Training camp opens tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. for the Blackhawks, and it is going to be crowded at the Fifth Third Arena.

Even with NCAA prospects not available to the club because school is already in session, that is many players to be at camp. Also, we’ll likely learn a lot about the COVID-19 vaccination status of the Blackhawks when the first media availability happens tomorrow as well. From the trends we see around the league, hopefully, the Blackhawks are one of the teams that come in with 100% vaccine coverage, and we don’t have to do this whole song and dance about finding out which player(s) are not and who might end up posing a possible problem for the team.

written by

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.

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