Ryan Reaves is on the cusp of committing his future to the Vegas Golden Knights, which is a smart move as long as the price is right.
According to SinBin, who do an excellent job of covering the Vegas Golden Knights, discussions have taken place between the two parties about a contract extension.
It may even be at a more advanced stage than that, with a source telling SinBin that a two-year deal may have already been signed.
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It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if Reaves does indeed re-sign with the Golden Knights given the power forward’s importance to the franchise.
However, and keeping in mind that no financial details have been shared as of yet, it has to be a team-friendly deal in order for this to be a home run for the Golden Knights.
But, before we delve into why, let’s first take a look at why Reaves is a vital cog in this Stanley Cup contending team.
Acquired in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 26, 2018, the enforcer slotted right in and made an instant impact for the Golden Knights.
Setting the tone from the start, Reaves racked up 75 hits in 21 regular season games as the Knights won the Pacific Division in their inaugural year, before the forward wrote his name in the history books.
Battling against the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference Finals, Reaves deflected a Lucas Sbisa shot into the net for the game-winner, a goal that sent the first-year Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
And that was just the start.
Despite playing a very clear role as a fourth-line battering ram who will stick up for his teammates when needed, Reaves carved out a career-year in 2018-19.
Through 80 games, the 33-year-old put up nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points, setting career-highs in all three categories.
That ability to produce offense meshed perfectly with what Reaves does best, which is basically being a destructive pest on the ice.
He demolished opponents with a staggering 305 hits, although he surpassed that total with 316 hits in just 71 games this season prior to the NHL going on hiatus.
So, in a nutshell, Reaves isn’t just a one-trick pony as many people assume after a quick glance at Ryan Reaves the player.
Yes, he’s an old-school enforcer who can wipe out opponents with bone-crunching hits while pummelling them with his fists, but he can also chip in with secondary scoring and can come up clutch in key moments.
Furthermore, Reaves is a real glue guy inside that locker room and he boasts a commanding presence both on and off the ice, which can’t be undervalued.
A Fair Price
Taking everything we mapped out above into consideration, it is a no-brainer signing Ryan Reaves to an extension.
He plays a key role on the fourth-line and is very much a dying breed when it comes to the sheer toughness he brings to the table, a quality you still need in order to succeed in the modern-day NHL as proven by the St. Louis Blues in 2018-19.
Plus, Reaves can provide offense and he’s actually been playing some of the best hockey of his career during his time with the Golden Knights, despite being in his 30’s.
However, his current salary cap hit of $2,775,000 is a hell of a lot for a bottom-line grinder despite how productive Reaves has been in Sin City.
If Reaves does indeed re-sign with the Golden Knights, it will have to be on a team-friendly deal that works for all parties.
The positive is that Reaves has seemingly found his eternal home, a place that has allowed him to play some of his best hockey while he also now has other interests in Vegas including his own brewery.
As a result, the 33-year-old may be inclined to take a hometown discount in order to finish his career with the Golden Knights.
It would have to be a team-friendly deal for Vegas too given that, with the salary cap likely to remain at $81.5 million for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19, the Knights will once again have limited cap space.
As of now, they are projected to have around $9 million in cap space in order to deal with a pool of eight pending free agents (including Reaves), while they will also likely need to dip their top in free agency waters in order to find a backup goalie.
While Deryk Engelland could retire and Jon Merrill and Tomas Nosek are probably destined for pastures new, the Golden Knights will still need to thrash out new deals with pending RFA’s including Nick Cousins and Chandler Stephenson.
Therefore, the front office can’t afford to allow their respect and admiration for Reaves trick them into overpaying a fourth-liner again.
If they can instead thrash out a team-friendly deal that ensures Ryan Reaves is paid more like a fourth-liner but still reflects his importance to this franchise, then it will be a win-win for all parties.