Photo Credit: Jan Malte Diekmann
While no-one would mistake Germany for a hockey powerhouse, hockey is simply in Lukas Reichel’s blood. His father Martin played 20 years of pro hockey, including playing for his adopted homeland of Germany at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. His uncle Robert played over 800 NHL games and took home Olympic Gold in 1998. His cousin Kristian is a Winnipeg Jets prospect currently in the AHL, while Lukas’s brother Thomas plays alongside him in the DEL. Growing up he saw this as a massive positive.
“(Growing up) we talked so much with Robert and Kristian. That’s been so good for me and they have helped me a lot.”
With the family now having split allegiances between Czech Republic and Germany there are added bragging rights on the line when the two sides meet, and Lukas beamed as he recounted the German victory over the Czechs at the World Juniors.
“After the Czech game… Kristian, he messaged me on Instagram asking why we are beating Czech Republic! But it is just fun between us!”
But Lukas is not just living off his famous family name. Coming into his draft year he was a relative unknown, having only played in the German junior divisions and at the second tier u-18 World Juniors. However, he forced his way into a starting role on Eisbären Berlin to begin the season, and over the last course of the 2019-20 season his play in a high-level professional league helped him force his way from unranked in some draft rankings to the 17th overall pick for the Blackhawks. Twenty-four points in 42 games in a league made up of ex-NHLers, AHLers and the top talent central Europe has on offer is extremely impressive. Berlin alone last season had eight players who suited up in the world’s best league. The Nürnberg native turned heads not just with his production though, but with his well-rounded offensive skill-set making him dangerous in all areas of the ice.
“My playmaking and vision (are my best attributes). I like to make my teammates better. I am always looking for a pass, and my skating (is good). In Berlin I am more of a scorer! But I don’t know why… but that is okay, I like to score too!”
He can beat opponents with skill or speed, and is not afraid of the danger areas despite needing time to physically mature. Reichel himself noted that is an area he is working on, alongside his defensive game.
“My defending is a bit of a weakness, and my physical play, I have to work on that… but in Berlin we have a really good fitness coach, and going there I hope that in two years or three years that area is a lot better.”
Many who have watched him may feel he is being harsh on himself by calling his play in his own zone a weakness, as while no stalwart he seems to hold his own against men. While not as flashy offensively as fellow high-end German prospects Tim Stützle and John-Jason Peterka he has good hands, just like the man he grew up idolising, a potential future team-mate.
“My favourite player was – and is – Patrick Kane. I like his skill, his playmaking vision. He is my hockey idol.”
Given his skill-set it is easy to envisage the affable German becoming a good top six winger in the not so distant future for the Chicago Blackhawks. While he may be a pass first player, he can shoot the puck too, and has scored at a good clip at every level he has played at. If he hits, he will also surely be a fan favourite at the United Center.
*this interview took place at the 2020 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic*
Check out our scouting report on Reichel for more details on his skill-set.
Interview post written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alexander on Twitter, his handle is @Avappleyard.