Rangers Report Card 2022: Ryan Reaves

Between their season-ending bombings at the hands of the New York Islanders and the Tom Wilson incident against the Washington Capitals, the Rangers entered the 2021 offseason wanting to be tougher to face. The 2012 fight night against the New Jersey Devils saw the team icing three enforcers in Stu Bickel, Brandon Prust and Mike Rupp to start this game and send a message. The 2021 fight night against Washington saw the roles of Bickel, Prust and Rupp played by Colin Blackwell, Phil Di Giuseppe and Kevin Rooney. Brendan Smith, Anthony Bitetto and Ryan Strome got the punch soon after, but no one called any of those six players as enforcers.

An angry letter written and two firings later, Chris Drury was the main decision-maker on Broadway and made it clear that the Blueshirts would be a tougher group the following season. In exchange for what ended up being the 95th pick in the 2022 draft, Drury acquired Ryan Reaves from the Vegas Golden Knights on July 29 and added an extra year to Reaves’ contract before he even fit in. the team.

Reunited with his former Vegas coach in Gerard Gallant, Reaves found himself in the lineup most often. Although he sat healthy in the last two games of the season, Reaves was a regular presence on the fourth line. So how did he do on that line?

Wagon statistics: 69 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 44 SOG, 10:38 TOI/GP, 43 PIM, -9 penalty differential, -14 ice goal differential

5 vs. 5 Analytics Metrics: 1.00 points/60, -10.57% relative CF, -11.04% relative SF, -17.10% relative GF, -11.46% relative expected GF, -8.14% relative SCF, 98, 8 AOP on ice, -5.9 GAR

Playoff stats: 0 points, 9:25 TOI/GP, -3.89% CF relative, 0.60% xGF relative, -1 goal differential on ice

Other than Julien Gauthier, no other Ranger who finished the season on the NHL roster has skated fewer minutes per game than Reaves. Introduced as a deterrent against other teams, Reaves has only dropped the gloves and fought three times this season. Kurtis MacDermid of Colorado, Patrick Maroon of Tampa Bay and Michael Pezzetta of Montreal were his opponents.

There weren’t a ton of nights to tell from a production standpoint. Reaves failed to find the back of the net until January 20, although he scored his first and second goals as a Ranger that night:

Aside from that night, Reaves has generally been a massive drag on the Blueshirts’ performance on the ice. Looking at shot attempts, shots on goal, expected goals, and basically all shot and chance related stats, Reaves was at or near the bottom of every on-ice metric. Those in which he was not last, he was usually joined by Kevin Rooney and Greg McKegg, who are no longer part of the team.

There are no stats that make Reaves a big contributor to New York’s success this season. The Rangers were outscored 30-16 at even strength with Reaves on the ice, and that minus-14 goal differential was the team’s worst. The Blueshirts’ forward depth was their glaring weakness for the first three quarters of the season before the trade deadline, and getting outplayed by a ratio of nearly 2:1 every time Reaves was on the ice was an important part of this issue.

One stat that highlights Reaves’ overall shortcomings is Evolving Hockey’s Goals Above Replacement model. GAR (and its conversions W(ins)AR and S(tandings)P(oints)AR) are cumulative statistics that incorporate even-strength play, special teams play, and penalty impacts. Of 427 forwards to skate at least 350 minutes this season, Reaves was one of only 11 to be deep enough in the red in GAR to account for at least -1 WAR. This comes despite virtually zero special teams time, which other bad players in his neighborhood receive and give them more opportunities to be bad.

Eliminating the special teams component of GAR and WAR, only five other players were so trailing at even strength to account for -1 WAR. Being the best tweeter on the team and releasing them on the ice for games is great for a laugh once in a while, but when it requires putting a player in the conversation for worst skater in the league, something has to give.

When the playoffs rolled around, Reaves spent even more time watching games from the bench than usual. No forward has skated less than the 9:25 per game Reaves did in the playoffs. After four particularly tough games against the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals. Reaves spent New York’s final two games of the season in the press box. For all the questions surrounding Kaapo Kakko’s future after his healthy end-of-season scratch, Reaves’ roster spot for the 2022-23 campaign appears to be locked in even amid the Blueshirts’ ongoing crisis.

Similar to Alain Vigneault’s affinity for Tanner Glass since their time in Vancouver, Reaves clearly endeared himself to Gerard Gallant during their time together in Vegas, which contributed to his arrival in New York. The enforcer’s age has passed at this point, but Reaves is one of the last of a dying breed of NHL players. His first season in New York went as Rangerstown residents expected. Hopefully its second season will be a pleasant surprise.

Header average: D (2 C, 3 D, 2 F)

*All data through Natural Stat Tip and Hockey in Evolution

Posted In NHL

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