Vegas Golden Knights: Grading the Ryan Reaves extension

Ryan Reaves #75 of the Vegas Golden Knights takes a break during a stop in play. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ryan Reaves #75 of the Vegas Golden Knights takes a break during a stop in play. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Ryan Reaves and Vegas Golden Knights story still has another couple of chapters left.

It was announced by General Manager Kelly McCrimmon on Monday that the Vegas Golden Knights had signed the toughest guy in hockey to a new two-year extension worth $3.5 million.

The deal carries an AAV of $1.75 million.

With this extension comes another surefire sign that the front office, led by McCrimmon and President of Hockey Operations George McPhee, have a strong desire to keep the current roster intact.

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It makes sense given how instrumental Reaves has become to the Golden Knights since being acquired in a trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 26, 2018.

And we decided we would assess the new extension dished out to Reaves, before giving it a final grade.

Let’s delve in…

VGK Get It Right

Ryan Reaves has established himself as more than a one-trick pony during his three seasons with the Golden Knights, adding an offensive punch to his formidable and punishing physical game.

In three years in Sin City, the enforcer has recorded 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) in 172 regular season games for the Golden Knights as opposed to 59 points (31 goals, 28 assists) in 477 career regular season contests for the St. Louis Blues and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The undoubted highlight of Reaves’ stay in Vegas so far was his career-year during the 2018-19 season when the forward recorded career-highs in goals (9), assists (11), points (20), power play goals (3), game-winning goals (2) and Average Time On Ice (10:53).

He also led the league in hits that year with 305, while Reaves was leading the entire NHL in that category in 2019-20 with a staggering 316 hits prior to the sporting world going on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reaves was on pace for another solid year in the offensive zone with 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 71 regular season games.

But, to get a real crystal clear idea of just how radically efficient Reaves has been in the offensive zone with the Golden Knights compared to the rest of his career, you just need to look at his Points Per Game totals.

Averaging just 0.12 Points Per Game in seven years with both the Blues and the Penguins, Reaves has propelled that figure to 0.22 in three seasons with Vegas.

So, while he will never be a potent offensive weapon, Reaves can certainly contribute offense when needed and he’s also developed the ability to come up clutch for his team, as best proven with his game-winning goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final that sent the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year.

However, we all know that Reaves is at his best when he dishes out gruelling punishment to his opponents on the ice.

And he’s thrived and flourished in that department for the Golden Knights.

As already mentioned, he led the NHL in hits with 305 in 2018-19 and he was leading the league in that category with 316 this season prior to the pause.

There’s no one better in the NHL when it comes to delivering bone-crushing hits, dropping the gloves and also getting under the skin of the opponent.

Ryan Reaves #75 and William Carrier #28 of the Vegas Golden Knights wait for a faceoff.
Ryan Reaves #75 and William Carrier #28 of the Vegas Golden Knights wait for a faceoff. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Reaves has all of the above down to an absolute fine art.

Plus, since entering the NHL in 2010-11 with St. Louis, Reaves ranks third in total hits and his partnership with William Carrier and Tomas Nosek makes Vegas’ fourth-line one of the most feared in the entire league.

Reaves is also a glue guy in that Golden Knights locker room and he’s trusted by the coaching staff, as reflected by his 10:09 Average Time on Ice total in 2019-20 in addition to his ATOI average of 10:27 in three years with Vegas.

Able to hit like an absolute train and deliver in key moments, Reaves is built perfectly for the Golden Knights and it was no surprise that the front office were keen to renew their vows with the powerhouse forward.

And you can consider this new deal team-friendly.

While an AAV of $1.75 million is still fairly high for a fourth-line grinder, it is a discount on the $2,775,000 AAV Reaves commanded in both 2018-19 and in 2019-20.

It gives Vegas some flexibility this off-season when it comes to the salary cap, which is expected to be frozen at $81.5 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That will become key given that the Golden Knights have six pending free agents to deal with, including elite goalie Robin Lehner, while they will also have to fill out the remainder of the roster.

Grade B+

As stated above, some will still see this new deal as a slight overpay for a bottom-line grinder and someone who excels in the dark arts of fighting.

However, a discount on his previous deal, Reaves should earn every dollar of this extension given the impact he has in both zones.

His punishing physical play speaks for itself but he was on pace to hit the 20-point plateau for the second straight year prior to the pause, while he’s a crucial glue guy in the locker room.

dark. Next. Reaves is here to stay

All in all, this was another shrewd move by the Vegas Golden Knights front office and one that went down incredibly well in Sin City given Ryan Reaves’ hero status.