Three Germans have first-round potential in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. We have previously evaluated Tim Stützle and John-Jason Peterka and will now continue with Eisbären Berlin’s Lukas Reichel. Stützle has already positioned himself as a lock-on top-tier talent of this year’s class. However, if either Peterka or Reichel get selected on opening night, that would mark a historic event for German hockey. Never before have two players from Germany been selected in the first round of the NHL draft.
Birthplace: Nürnberg, Germany
Date of birth: May 17, 2002
Weight: 172 lbs.
Team: Eisbären Berlin (DEL)
It is easy to like what one has seen from Reichel this far in his short career. Maybe his quick development has something to do with his advisors back home. Lukas’s uncle is Robert Reichel; a sharp-shooter for the Calgary Flames during the early 1990s with over 800 NHL games on his resume.
Lukas’s own father, Robert’s brother Martin, was also a decent player, drafted by the other Alberta team in 1992. Martin never made the leap to the NHL, but he is a German Hockey Hall of Famer after playing nearly two decades in the top division. There is actually the odd possibility that Reichel Jr. will be selected in the very same spot (number 37) as his father, since Lukas’s ranking varies from mid-first to early-second round.
Being the son of a hockey player, Lukas is used to moving around. Born in Nürnberg, he spent most of his youth in Frankfurt and Rosenheim, but ultimately left the Starbulls to join capital city club Eisbären. His coaching staff quickly realized that the 16 year old was way too talented to stay with his peers, so he moved up to the U20s.
During his first and, as it would happen, only season in the DNL U20, he put up 44 points in 32 games and averaged just about one assist per game. Great numbers, but still numbers which fade when compared to Stützle, who bulldozed the league with 55 points in 21 games.
Coming off a disappointing year where Eisbären Berlin ended the regular season in ninth place, they decided that there was reason to look closer at a talent like Reichel. After promoting him to senior duty for the 2019-20 season, there was talk of him being loaned out to a lower tier to gain experience. His performance in the preseason showed Eisbären’s coaching staff that he clearly didn’t need that and he was mature enough to take on the DEL from the get-go.
You would expect to see some growing pains with a 17-year-old rookie playing against men, but Reichel upped his game once again and thrived. Playing middle-six minutes on the wing, he had racked up quite a respectable 24 points in 42 games before the league paused further action due to the pandemic. This was more than double the amount of points that fellow prospect Peterka put up in the same number of games and only ten behind Stützle. His 12 goals were five more than Stützle put up — not bad for a player who wasn’t labelled as a scoring winger while playing junior hockey.
Reichel has always been an above average skater with high-level technical skills. The question when he joined the pro league was if he could adapt to the more physical game and still be able to produce offensively without getting shut down due to his rather lean stature. He’s listed at 172 lbs on EliteProspects, which is about 15 lbs lighter than Stützle and Peterka, while measuring in at the same height. While Peterka and Stützle are already built like men, Reichel still has some growing to do.
During the year, he surprised both coaches and scouts with how all-round his offensive game was. He was soon awarded with a spot on the second power play and found ways to contribute there as well. Reichel can create offence on the fly and seems equally qualified to finish chances himself as to supply his linemates with precise passes. His skating makes him a constant threat in the slower German league and his vision is already near the league’s top tier.
He also impressed the hockey community during the World Junior Championship 2020. As one-fifth of a tantalizing quintet with Peterka, Stützle and previous years’ first-rounders Dominik Bokk and Moritz Seider, Reichel had five points in seven games and proved that his play held up more than enough against international competition.
Elite Prospects: #43
Future Considerations: #33
Hockey Prospect: #15
ISS Hockey: #31
McKeen’s Hockey: #38
NHL Central Scouting: #11 (European skaters)
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #31
During the last two years, Lukas has shown an impressive ability to continue developing his game to fit each new challenge he’s given. While Peterka has more intriguing traits and a more exciting ceiling, Reichel demonstrated this season that, at this point in time, he is a better overall hockey player.
Reichel’s intelligence may have been enough to produce in the German league, but you have to possess an outstanding level of Elias Pettersson-esque hockey IQ to make an impression in the NHL with a 170 lbs frame. Reichel is not considered to be on that level of sheer talent. At some point, he will need to add body mass before he’s ready for his American adventure.
There seems to be quite a bit of interest in the German around the league. This could lead to him ultimately being selected earlier than what has previously been expected. In Corey Pronman’s latest mock draft over at The Athletic, he has Reichel going as number 18 to the New Jersey Devils. He argues that based on his own conversations with scouts, he has become increasingly aware that he shouldn’t mock Reichel too low.
Based on what I’ve read, I’m becoming increasingly certain that Lukas Reichel will be a first-round selection when it’s all said and done. 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.