The long-rumoured interest from Brad Treliving in Ryan Reaves appears to have come to fruition in the form of a multi-year contract when the UFA period opens tomorrow, according to TFP’s David Pagnotta.
Expecting a multi-year deal for Reaves and the Maple Leafs tomorrow. https://t.co/kJ2YrJHreN
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 1, 2023
A multi-year contract for Reaves at age 36 is obviously a little eyebrow-raising, and the question is whether it will be below the buriable threshold ($1.125M) in case Reaves needs to be moved off the active NHL roster at any point during the contract — it’s worth noting Reaves has earned $1.75 million per season for the last three years (spanning two contracts), so we’ll see how much Brad Treliving has managed to shave down the AAV by adding more than one year to the term.
Obviously, a lot of the reasoning behind this addition is inspired by the intangibles the 6’2, 225-pound Reaves brings to the table and the physical factor — Reaves leads the league among active players in hits/60 since 2010, and he hits to hurt as one of the physically strongest players in the league, providing an intimidating presence for defensemen retrieving pucks down his wing. He fought seven times last season, which made for his highest major-penalty count since 2014-15.
Treliving’s history shows a proclivity for a bruiser on his roster — he took on the final four years of all but 750k of Milan Lucic’s $6 million deal in Calgary — but the question is to what degree Reaves can be useful enough in the run of play to justify a regular spot in the lineup from ages 37-38/39.
Reaves will not give the Leafs much utility outside of fourth-line five-on-five shifts, although he has been used as a net-front guy on the power play, including in Minnesota last season (1:38/game on the PP).
The other question mark is where exactly Reaves will fit in the Leafs’ lineup. Stylistically, can he work effectively next to David Kampf and Sam Lafferty on the fourth line? We’ve witnessed over the years the Matt Martins and Wayne Simmonds of the world coming through Toronto and looking a little lost without the right running mates that can feed off of one another (in the way Martin clicked naturally alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas on the Island). Some of Reaves’ most effective five-on-five stretches in Vegas came alongside the feisty Will Carrier, who is always near the top of the league in hits/60.
If Reaves is jammed into a role next to two players who don’t gel with his kind of physical identity, it’s hard not to envision the creation of a murky line identity while Reaves drags down the on-ice impacts and makes limited contributions offensively. Over the past three seasons, Reaves has been outscored 69-51 while on the ice and his lines have been heavily out-chanced and outshot. That said, if Reaves brings his hard forechecking and net-crashing presence while Kampf and Lafferty (just as an example line) drive all of the defensive and transition pieces for the line, maybe there is a world where it could reasonably come together.
All of the above concerns aside, Reaves’ massive personality, quotability, belligerence, and ultimate team-guy attitude will no doubt win over some fans in Toronto. As a 12/13th forward with a buriable cap hit on a short-term deal to match, there are appreciable benefits to having Reaves’ presence on the roster, but we’ll wait and see where the contractual terms fall tomorrow and ultimately how and where he’s utilized within the Leafs‘ lineup.
Update: July 1, 9 am. EST – It looks to be a three-year deal that’s a few 100k above the fully-buriable threshold.
Based on level of interest, it’s believed the target is 3 years. I don’t believe the Wild we’re willing to do more than 2 years. Expect the AAV to come in around $1.3. He will be a fan favourite in Toronto. https://t.co/h8L25RhMkz
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 1, 2023