If I were to ask you which country is the next big hockey nation, what would you say?
I think, for the majority of hockey fans right now, the obvious answer is Germany. The country has had a recent uptick in quality talent this past decade and are poised to have a have more first rounders in the upcoming draft. Leading the hockey craze in Germany right now is Edmonton’s own Leon Draisaitl. The 2020 Hart Trophy winner is the first German to win the award and has inspired a generation of players from his home country.
Another impressive feat in Draisaitl’s career came at the very beginning. He remains the highest drafted German-trained player ever after being selected third overall by the Oilers in the 2014 NHL Draft. While that record is sure to be either broken or matched in the next few weeks, with Tim Stutzle poised to be taken either second or third, one might attribute Draisaitl for helping that happen.
Sticking to this year’s draft, it is a huge year for German hockey. At the present moment the country could have up to three players taken in the first round. Stutzle is a sure-fire top 5 pick, while John Jason-Peterka has been projected as a late-round pick all year. The other player that could make Germany proud is a player that might interest the Oilers. A crafty winger by the name of Lukas Reichel.
Who Is Lukas Reichel?:
Reichel is a 6’0” 172lb left-winger out of the DEL in Germany. He spent the past season playing for Eisbäran Berlin where he put up 12 goals and 24 points in 42 games. He was deployed as a middle six winger for the majority of the year and showed well as a 18 year-old in a mens league. On the surface those 24 points might not seem impressive, but they wereco 12 more than Peterka and 10 less than Stutzle, who were also rookies.
During his time as a junior player, Reichel was never heralded as a scoring winger. More-so, he was a play-maker that thought the game very well. What he racked up in points was mostly due to his ability to find teammates and get assists. This seemingly changed when he came into the DEL.
His vision on the ice is fantastic as he is able to set up teammates in situations a normal player wouldn’t be able to. He is a quick skater that can carry the puck into the offensive zone and he has started to show an ability to finish off chances that he gets. He possess a decent shot and could be considered very dangerous if he gets an open opportunity. He found a niche on Berlin’s second power-play unit and was able to find ways to produce in that role as well.
There are plenty of questions surround his game. His play away from the puck has been scrutinized and while he has shown some good defensive instincts, there is room to grow in that area. He is also a smaller player in terms of weight. At 176lbs he still has some growing to do before he can truly reach his full potential. He isn’t a physical player and relies on his vision and hockey IQ to get around the ice.
Here are what the experts are saying about him:
Mike Morreale (NHL.com): ”His averages of 0.29 assists per game and 0.57 points per game are the fourth-highest by an under-18 player in the history of the DEL. The nephew of former NHL center Robert Reichel is a powerful skater, good on the forecheck and can create scoring chances around the net.”
Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet): ”Plays a very aware offensive game, knowing where his linemates are at all times. Possesses the skill to make plays to open space for himself, or create lanes to distribute.”
Anton Rasegård (Eyes On The Prize): “Whoever picks him will get an intelligent, adaptable hockey player with middle-six potential who, at age 18, already possesses a well-rounded tool box of offence.”
Dayton Reimer (The Hockey Writers): ”Reichel gives the group a huge boost, bringing an up-tempo game that has very few flaws already at just the age of 17. He can be relied on to create plays, score goals, and even chip in defensively.”
Does He Make Sense At 14?:
There is some doubt that Reichel could go in the top half of the first round. His position varies, so let’s take a look at where he stacks up in some of the rankings out there:
Bob McKenzie (TSN): 20
Craig Button (TSN): 33
Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet): 24
Josh Bell (The Hockey Writers): 32
Taking a look at these rankings it seems as though taking Reichel at 14 would be stretching it. He is a fantastic offensive player that the Oilers would benefit from having, but they could easily trade down if they really wanted him.
If the Oilers did take him at their current position it would be risky. At that point they would be drafting for needs instead of the best player available, which is a practice I would stay away from.
To put it bluntly, Reichel doesn’t make sense at 14...instead I would advise Holland to try to trade down a bit and try to recoup a 2nd or 3rd round pick in the process. Think about it...would you say no to trading the 14th overall pick for the 18th overall and a second in the draft? I would certainly consider it.
Potential Fit with Oilers?:
As with any forward taken at this position, the hope is that they can someday play top six minutes with either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Reichel has all the tools to become a capable scoring winger at the NHL level so I don’t think projecting him as a top 6 player is out of the realm of possibility.
What impresses me the most about his game is his skating ability and his vision on the ice. Vision and hockey IQ are two things that you have to have if you are playing with McDavid. You need to be able to see the ice and get into a position to score. This is something that I think would appeal to the Oilers in terms of Reichel.
You also have to take into account that Reichel carried his line in the DEL. As a rookie that is very impressive and it is interesting to think about how he could perform as a complimentary player. He also showed some success on the powerplay which could give Edmonton some more options when it comes to their second unit.
I can imagine a scenario where Reichel could improve the Oilers forward depth quite a bit and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of trading down for him.
Lukas Reichel is a solid offensive winger that has shown plenty of promise. His ability to see the ice and create offence are impressive and he projects to be a top 6 winger in a complimentary role.
I think Reichel would be a great addition to the Oilers pipeline and the possibility of trading down for him would give Holland a chance to recoup some lost picks. He might not be in the NHL this year but I wouldn’t rule out a NHl debut for 2021/22.
Do you think trading down for Reichel would benefit the team?