Ryan Reaves role drastically reduced with Rangers after 3 straight scratches

Ryan Reaves played in 69 games for the New York Rangers in his first season for head coach Gerard Gallant. He likely would’ve played more if not for a stint on the COVID list in January. During the team’s playoff run, he suited up for 18 of the 20 postseason contests.

This season, the Rangers most physical player up front played in every game up until a 5-2 loss against the Boston Bruins on November 3. He has now been a healthy scratch for three straight games, including yesterday’s 8-2 drubbing over the Detroit Red Wings.

So what is the future for the big tough guy affectionately known as Reavo?

Ryan Reaves future with Rangers

ryan reaves
Oct 26, 2022; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75) checks New York Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson (8) into the boards during the first period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers acquired Reaves from the Vegas Golden Knights in the summer of 2021 for a third round pick. Soon after the trade, they extended him through the end of this season. The extension was for $1.75 million AAV against the cap.

“One thing before I got traded, I wanted to come to a team that was going to make a push for a Cup. I want to win a Stanley Cup. I want it so bad,” Reaves said on NHL Network last season. “I’m excited to see what this team can do.”

Reaves, 35, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds and is a physical presence every time he steps on the ice. That being said, he’s not known for being fleet of foot or offensively adequate which isn’t getting better with age.

With the team struggling of late, especially defensively, Gallant has opted to go with a faster lineup featuring Julien Gauthier on the fourth line.

It’s hard to argue as Reaves has no points in his 11 contests, while Gauthier’s posted 2 goals and an assist in 7 games.

Which begs the question: What’s Reaves’ future with the Rangers this season? I think the answer is clear that he’s now a part time player and will remain as the 13th forward all season.

He’s a beloved by the locker-room and his coach. Whether he is playing or not, Reaves provides leadership in the room. Should the team be facing a physical opponent, he will assuredly be inserted back into the lineup.

“Having [Reaves] on the bench has everyone puff their chest out a little more,” Adam Fox said last season. “We feel a little safer. He keeps other team’s guys in check as well. They know they can’t take liberties because they’ll have to answer to him. Having a guy like him allows everyone else to play a little bigger for sure.”

I don’t see Reaves being waived or traded this season. As for his Rangers future beyond 2022-23, there doesn’t appear to be one thanks to the cap. However, I’d be more worried about being sent to Hartford if I was Ryan Carpenter or Sammy Blais.

In 766 career NHL games for the St. Louis Blues (2010-11 to 2016-17), Pittsburgh Penguins (2017-18), Vegas (2017-18 to 2020-21) and Rangers, Reaves has 54 goals, 60 assists and 985 penalty minutes.

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