Lukas Reichel Will Play Saturday, Burning the First Year of His Entry-Level Contract

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Lukas Reichel Will Play Saturday, Burning the First Year of His Entry-Level Contract

Chicago Blackhawks

A prospect on an entry-level contract can not play more than nine games if the team wants the first year of the entry-level deal to slide to the next season. That’s important, because earlier today, Derek King confirmed that Lukas Reichel will indeed play on Saturday in Nashville, marking Reichel’s 10th NHL game of the season, burning the first year of his entry-level contract.

Kyle Davidson said last month before Reichel was called up for the third time this season that he wasn’t concerned with the potential of burning that first year of the entry-level contract: “The 10 games doesn’t really come into the equation for me,” Davidson said on March 21. “I would like to get him some more play at the NHL level if that should present itself. I think he’s been playing well down in Rockford, just continuing that development process and more exposure to the NHL, more games, I think is really beneficial for him. We’ll look to get him up here again at some point.”

Some argue, and I don’t disagree with them, that burning a year of Reichel’s entry-level deal for 10-15 games of NHL experience in a lost season doesn’t make much long-term sense. From the Blackhawks’ standpoint, burning that first year of Reichel’s entry-level deal would get Reichel to his second contract quicker, which would likely be a bridge deal at a manageable cap hit.

If Reichel’s first year were to slide to next season, that would give Reichel three full seasons of NHL play to build a body of work that could potentially lead to a bigger payday for Reichel and a bigger cap hit for the Blackhawks. By burning that first season this year, the Blackhawks are better positioned to work out a bridge deal with Reichel after the 2023-24 season rather than a big-money extension while they’re likely still in the thick of a rebuild. The Blackhawks seem to view Reichel’s second contract as more important than earning an extra year on his current entry-level contract.

Ultimately, suppose Kyle Davidson, who will have a cap rest over the next couple of years with lopsided extensions and cap hits coming off the books, does a better job of identifying the right players and disseminating money to them than Stan Bowman did. In that case, this doesn’t matter all that much.

One thing Davidson has working for him in that space is that he doesn’t have to deal with handing out massive extensions to players based on loyalty and past performance like Stan Bowman did in the years following the 2015 Stanley Cup. Davidson can pay players based on future valuation, something he seems to be set on in the infancy of his tenure as the GM of the Blackhawks, and that will allow the young GM to operate outside of the salary cap hell that he watched his predecessor work and ultimately fail within the last half-decade.

Regardless of how this shakes out, it’s evident that the Blackhawks think that Lukas Reichel is a special player, and they want him to be with the NHL team gaining experience with the big club.

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.