Ryan Reaves brings ‘physical presence’ to Golden Knights’ lineup

Updated February 25, 2018 - 5:15 pm

When it comes to Ryan Reaves, the numbers don’t lie.

The rugged veteran forward will occasionally score. He’ll have plenty of hits and get into a fight if need be.

Reaves, who was obtained by the Golden Knights from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday as part of a three-way deal with the Ottawa Senators, practiced Sunday and will make his debut Monday in Los Angeles against the Kings. The 31-year-old, 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pound right wing said he hopes to make the most of whatever ice time coach Gerard Gallant gives him.

“I’m not coming in here to score 50 goals for this team,” Reaves said. “I definitely try to help out on the scoreboard when I can, but I want to make sure I play physical every game and leave my presence on the ice.”

With the trade deadline at noon Monday, it remains to be seen if general manager George McPhee makes another move. There were rumors Saturday that the Knights were trying to get involved with trading for a far more skilled player — Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson. But as of Sunday afternoon there had been no deal for Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy winner for being the league’s top defenseman.

With the playoffs not far off, Reaves knows the game will be played differently. He says he can contribute in subtle ways.

“I just want to make the other team’s defense feel uneasy going back and getting pucks,” Reaves said. “When I’m in the game sometimes guys think twice about going into the corners. It opens up the ice for the other guys on the team.”

Reaves had four goals, four assists and 84 penalty minutes in 58 games with the Penguins and his ice time per game was just 6:45. That number should go up as Gallant likes to play four lines on a regular basis.

“We know his game and we know what he does,” Gallant said of Reaves, who skated Sunday with Oscar Lindberg and Tomas Nosek on the fourth line. “We’re not going to change the way we play, but we think he’ll be able to help us against some of the teams that play a heavy game.”

As for his toughness and role as an enforcer, Reaves has participated in six of the Penguins’ 12 fights this season, according to hockeyfights.com. The Knights have only been involved in eight fights. McPhee acknowledged that while that role has become greatly diminished in today’s NHL, where speed and skill are accentuated, there’s still a need for toughness.

“He’s a unique player,” McPhee said of Reaves, who had 239 hits last season with St. Louis, 10th highest in the league, and 161 hits this season with Pittsburgh. “These players, the tough guys in this league, many of them have been rendered obsolete because they can’t play. This guy can play and will be able to help us out.

“He gets around really well. We wouldn’t have done this transaction if we had any concerns about that. (Assistant general manager) Kelly McCrimmon has known this player for a long time. We thought he was really effective in St. Louis last year and really effective in the playoffs. He just didn’t get to play as much in Pittsburgh as he did in St. Louis. We’ll see how it goes here.”

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

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