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Ryan Reaves expected to play in Golden Knights’ season opener

Updated September 26, 2019 - 7:35 pm

For the first time this training camp, the Golden Knights forwards skated in color-coded jerseys with their expected linemates Thursday at City National Arena. Wearing his familiar fourth-line yellow was Ryan Reaves.

The rugged winger, who suffered an undisclosed injury during offseason training, was a full participant at practice and remains on track to play in the season opener Wednesday against rival San Jose at T-Mobile Arena.

“After today, I feel real good. I felt my pace was good today,” Reaves said. “My conditioning, my hands and everything are a day or two away from being ready for a game. We’ve just got to make sure that I come out of that little bit of contact I’ve had the last two days and the injury is fine and we’ll work from there.”

Reaves missed the first 11 days of training camp and practiced Tuesday in a red, noncontact jersey. He took line rushes with center Tomas Nosek and left wing William Carrier at Thursday’s skate.

Reaves said his injury prevented him from passing and shooting with other players for “a couple months” and his timing still is coming back.

“I obviously have been getting some extra work in because I have to fine-tune a little bit more being off the ice for so long,” he said. “Getting my hands back was the biggest thing, and just kind of working with other players. Getting a puck and finding an open guy and then getting into the right position and stopping on pucks and stopping in the right position. Those are all things you can’t do with just a coach on the ice.”

The Knights continue their exhibition schedule against Los Angeles on Friday at T-Mobile, though it’s unlikely Reaves would be fit enough to play.

Reaves did indicate he would like to dress in at least one preseason game, and Sunday’s finale against the Sharks might be a more realistic target.

“I’d really like to see him play at least one. But he’s doing real well,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “He was the best player on the ice if you ask him. He looked good.”

Reaves is coming off a career-best season in goals (nine), assists (11) and points (20), but will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

The 32-year-old said there have been no talks on an extension, though he’s steadfast in his desire to remain in Las Vegas.

Reaves has become a fan favorite since being acquired from Pittsburgh in February 2018. He is opening a brewery downtown and previously said he remained in Las Vegas this summer, the first offseason in his nine-year career he didn’t return to his native Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon declined to comment through a team spokesperson on any contract talks with Reaves, who makes $2.775 million this season.

“I’m looking forward to taking care of the season first, and if talks start up in the middle of the season, then I’ll be more than happy to have those talks,” Reaves said. “But it’s not there yet, and I’m not going to push the issue. I’m focusing on the season and getting back into shape and getting the season going.”

Reaves drew interest from a handful of teams as an unrestricted free agent in 2018, and the Knights had to be creative with his contract when he re-signed by squeezing the money from a three-year deal into two years.

Reaves has appeared in at least 79 games in five of the past six seasons while staying relatively injury free in his career despite his physical style.

He thinks he can play five or six more seasons but could face a difficult business decision should another club offer more term or money than the Knights in free agency.

“I’m getting older. I’m also sick of moving,” Reaves said. “”It’s tough when you’ve ingrained yourself in a community, and I have a business here. But at the same time, the business has nothing to do with it. I’ve always said, I don’t have a business without being a hockey player. Hockey comes first, and I have to make the best decision for my hockey career … and for my family.”

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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