It’s been a hard year for Blackhawks forward Lukas Reichel. Sunday it looks like it just got a little harder.
Head coach Luke Richardson said Reichel, the team’s first-round pick in 2020, will be a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
“I’m sure he’s disappointed, but we need more from him,” Richardson said during his pregame media availability. “When there’s an opportunity like [Anthony] Beauvillier not being available, it should be him that has that opportunity, so we’re disappointed as well.”
As I noted in my morning bullets today, Reichel was credited with only 15 shots on net in 12 games in November, producing a point in six of those 12 games. Late in Saturday’s loss, MacKenzie Entwistle took a couple shifts with Tyler Johnson and Taylor Raddysh in Reichel’s place.
After showing fairly well down the stretch last year, there were hopes that the arrival of Connor Bedard would take pressure off Reichel in his first full season in the NHL to produce and he could build on that strong play. Reichel started the season as the center on Chicago’s second line, but moved up to play on Bedard’s wing for a few games before getting sent back to the left wing on the second line. Even getting some run on the top power play unit hasn’t helped Reichel find his offensive game this season.
Before the season started, Reichel said he needed to be more selfish and shoot the puck more. Richardson has begged him to shoot the puck more frequently this season; he’s a skilled player. Even after Reichel finally scored his first goal of the season back in mid-November, Richardson said he still wanted to see more from Reichel. That has not materialized.
Reichel’s inability to put points on the board is an issue not only for the Blackhawks’ offense, but his future hangs in the balance. Reichel is a restricted free agent this coming summer. Over the summer, after his good showing last year, I went as far as to advocate for the Blackhawks to get a bridge deal done with Reichel to keep him in the fold for the next few years. At the rate this season is going, I’m not sure a multi-year deal would be in the cards for Reichel.