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Ryan Reaves Wasn’t Always “A Heavy”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

He’s the heavyweight, or as he calls it heavy, champion of the NHL, and just so happens to play for the Golden Knights.

I don’t think I was necessarily considered a heavy until my second or third year in the NHL. I didn’t really come into my size until I was 23. My first fight against a heavy I did pretty well. -Ryan Reaves

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Yep, Ryan Reaves. Numero uno. The undisputed heel of the NHL in the eyes of most fanbases. Reaves is the quintessential player that fans love to hate, but would love to see play for their team.

So, I got into it with the baddest man in the sport and luckily managed to survive his heavy blows.

In my first year, I was skinny. Oh yeah, I was real skinny. My coach saw that I was a physical guy that didn’t like to fight. I wasn’t excited about fighting, and maybe sometimes I shied away from it. -Reaves

Reaves is physically and mentally fit for the role he now fills. It’s fairly common knowledge that he gives his opponents nightmares.

Ryan Reaves chased me around the ice for a good thirty seconds… so I run. I run as fast as I can. -PK Subban, PK Subban’s All-Star Special

But the 6’1, 225lbs. Power Forward/Private Security Guard wasn’t built overnight.

My coach said the way you play, if you want to make it to the NHL you’re going to have to answer the bell, you’re going to have to stand up for your teammates. That’s going to be your role if you want to make it to the next level. -Reaves

So as a form of career survival, Reaves took his coach’s words to heart and got right to work.

I went and boxed that summer. I took boxing lessons, came back and fought everything that moved. I had 14 fights. I was asking everyone to fight, and I got noticed for that. -Reaves

Hockey is a sport built on pride. So respect must be earned. Reaves may be the people’s champion now, but had to prove himself to the rest of the league’s contenders.

I caught Brian McGratton with one, after that I got noticed. I had one against Kyle Clifford, knocked him out. I think that one put me on the map. You gotta work your way up. You can’t just jump into those heavies and think you’re the heavy of the league. -Reaves

And if some small, unknown punk like myself wanted to challenge Reaves on the ice…

Let me put it this way, if you come on the ice and knock me out, people will take notice. And I don’t know, if you knock me out I don’t know who’s coming after you.”-Reaves

You should’ve seen the smile on his face.

Fleury, Reaves And Schmidt Have Plenty Of Laughs At Their Expense On Spittin’ Chiclets

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was a good old-fashioned Vegas roast on the latest episode of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast. Host Rear Admiral and former NHL’ers Ryan Whitney and Paul “BizNasty” Bissonette welcomed Golden Knights star’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Nate Schmidt and Ryan Reaves to an evening at the Friars Club.

Coming right off the faceoff, the trio wasted no time bagging on Vegas’ early struggles, and Nate Schmidt’s suspension.

What happened early in the year? -Bissonette

Couldn’t tell you about the first twenty. -Schmidt

Schmitty let us down, you know. -Fleury

Oh, c’mon! -Schmidt

After Fleury cracked up the room with his playful knock on his teammate, the gang asked Schmidt to get into his little stint in Vienna.

I would practice, I’d get bag skated everyday by this Finnish coach. He would come out with no stick, no gloves and put his hands behind his back and just skate up and down the ice. Fifteen laps was their pregame skate one day. I got back to the bench and looked up in the stands at the GM and go, ‘where am I?’ I’m going to be in the best shape of my life when I go back.” -Schmidt

Bag skating is a term players use when coaches are riding them hard in practice. It might be before or after practice, and it could be a variation of laps, goal line to goal line sprints, or suicide laps. Which are even exhausting to think about.

I was bag skating everyday. Five, six times a week. They take their skating a little more seriously. They skate, and skate, and skate. -Schmidt

Schmidt was asked if he traveled with the Vienna Capitals, his adopted club. The never bashful defenseman, although ashamed, openly admitted to some sweet star treatment in Europe.

I went on the road with them one game. The only problem was, this is terrible, the GM and I flew to this place and the rest of team bussed it. It was a nine hour bus ride from Zurich… I was rested. -Schmidt

The Golden Knights defenseman added that training in Vienna was…

Once, in a lifetime experience -Schmidt

Hopefully. -Bissonette

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Ryan Reaves 2.0

Reaves jokes about buying a new pair of hands with his new contract, but his off-ice workout regimen which has turned him into a different player is no joke. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The highest point total Ryan Reaves has tallied in his NHL career is 13 in 2016-17. His best goal scoring season was the same year when he scored seven. Yet here we are, 11 games in the season and Reaves already has three goals and is on pace for 20+ points.

But it’s not just the goal scoring that has Reaves impressing on the ice, it’s the speed at which he’s playing that has allowed he and linemates, William Carrier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, to consistently create chances mostly born out of ferocious forechecking.

Quite simply, the VGK version of Reaves is not the one the NHL grew to know (and in some cases love, other cases hate) over his first seven years in the league.

The last two years in particular I’ve done a lot less sitting in the gym pumping iron. I think that was the old me who had to go out and fight 6’5″ guys every other night. The game is changing so I’ve got to adapt. I’m not nearly as heavy as I was. I work on a lot of explosiveness, a lot of weighted vest skating, jumps, just a lot of power in my legs, so I can keep up. I’m still a heavy guy but I’ve got to keep up with the fast pace of the league right now. -Ryan Reaves

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When you add in the series-winner in Winnipeg and the goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Reaves has scored five goals in his last 16 games. At no other point in his career has he come close to that type of scoring output.

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The Tide Might Just Be Turning

If things really do start to turn around for VGK, remember Alex’s two goals against Ottawa. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Oh, what a goal it was. Alex Tuch started from the center line, chased a player down behind his own goal, dislodged the puck, then picked it up and sped past not one but two players before he slid a shot under Craig Anderson’s pad. You hear about 200-foot players, that was a 300-foot play and a potential season-changer for the Vegas Golden Knights.

He made an end to end rush that was an outstanding goal. It made everyone excited. It made our fans really excited and I know the guys on the bench were pretty happy. It sort of broke the ice in a game that we weren’t having much luck. -Gerard Gallant

He should have said “in a season that we weren’t having much luck.”

There was nothing lucky about Tuch’s goal though, and a few minutes later, when Ryan Reaves tapped home a rebound, there was nothing lucky about that one either.

The Golden Knights have been getting chance after chance after chance, but they just haven’t been putting them away. Against Ottawa, twice in less than five minutes, they scored goals that were unstoppable by any goalie in the league. Then, after conceding again, a tip from Tuch squeaked its way through Anderson’s pads. That one had a touch of luck on it, but as Gallant had said maybe the ice has been broken.

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Reaves Brewing A Beer That Will Knock You Out

“Would you like a pint of Grim Reaver, Mr. Wilson?” (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As if Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves needs to prove his manhood anymore, he’s going out and showing up most men yet again.

I’m starting up a little beer company and see how it goes. It started a little in St. Louis, I called it the Grim Reaver. It did pretty well in St. Louis…”- Ryan Reaves on Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast

In the city where Budweiser is brewed, Reaves’ Grim Reaver was rated 3.8 out of 5. Not bad. His namesake IPA was described as “offering big, juicy grapefruit and citrus notes.” You might say the Vegas power forward knows a thing or two about beer.

Hopefully, everyone doesn’t think I’m an alcoholic because I’m not. I like a nice beer and something to do after I’m done playing.-Reaves on Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast

I asked Reaves where things stood with his new Vegas brew.

It’s not being brewed yet, we’re still in the process of finding a deal with the right brewery. -Reaves

This probably won’t surprise you, Reaves is not drinking your everyday light beer. Oh no, he wants his custom suds to pack a powerful blow like his $2.75 million punch.

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The Ryan Reaves vs. George McPhee Hand Of Poker Was Won By #75

The Golden Knights clearly value plays like this one. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since today marks exactly 75 days until the regular season, it seemed a good day to talk about the Golden Knights #75, Ryan Reaves.

Reaves was acquired by Vegas a few days before the trade deadline in which the Golden Knights acted as the third party in a deal that sent Derick Brassard from the Senators to the Penguins.

At the time, the Golden Knights were going through a rough patch injury-wise. James Neal, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, William Carrier were all in-and-out of the lineup and subsequent injuries to David Perron and Reilly Smith kept Reaves on the ice for every game in the regular season.

Then, the playoffs came and with a healthy roster, Reaves was out of the lineup, behind Ryan Carpenter and William Carrier. As the playoffs progressed, William Carrier got injured, Carpenter, Tomas Tatar and David Perron fell out of the lineup, and Reaves became a mainstay on the fourth line. In the Western Conference Finals Reaves scored the game-winning goal that clinched the Golden Knights trip to the Stanley Cup Final. He then backed that goal up with a tally in Game 1 of the Final.

When the season ended, he was set to become an unrestricted free agent and comments from GM George McPhee made it sound like Reaves was not going to re-sign with Vegas prior to July 1st and probably not at all.

We made our offer, they said they’d circle back but they are looking for a longer term deal. If he gets the longer term deal then he won’t be coming back. But in that transaction, we got a player and a 4th round pick understanding that the player might leave. -George McPhee on 6/24/18

As it turns out, he got the longer term deal and still came back. So what happened?

A few days before July 1st, when Reaves was officially eligible to sign with any team in the NHL, he made it clear to any other team pursuing him that he was going to stay in Vegas. On June 30th, that happened as he signed a two-year deal worth $2.775 million per year.

Reaves was two years and basically, there was a lot of interest in him. There was a lot of competition for him. We simply took the money from a three-year deal and pushed it into two. -McPhee on 7/1/18

The question is, why? Why on June 30th would the Golden Knights be willing to break down and admittedly overpay for a player they seemed perfectly content losing a week prior? 

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VGK Free Agency Tracker

)(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

  • Ryan Reaves has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a two year $2.775 million AAV deal. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • David Perron has signed with St. Louis on a four year $4 million AAV deal. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Paul Stastny has signed with the Golden Knights for three years at $6.5 million AAV. (Source: @TSNBobMcKenzie)
  • Nick Holden has signed with the Golden Knights for two years at $2.2 million AAV. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • A trade for Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan still appears very much in play (Source: @TSNBobMcKenzie)
  • James Neal has signed with the Calgary Flames for five years at $5.75 million AAV. (Source: @TSNBobMcKenzie)
  • Brandon Pirri has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a one year, two-way deal worth $650,000 NHL, $250,000 AHL. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • The Golden Knights have re-signed Maxime Lagace on a two-way deal at $650,000. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • Zach Fucale has signed a one year two-way deal worth $650,000. He’s a waiver exempt goalie who has yet to make his NHL debut. Previously in Montreal’s system. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • The Golden Knights have signed Curtis McKenzie, a 27-year-old winger previously with the Dallas organization bouncing between NHL and AHL. Deal is two years worth $750,000 AAV. (Source: DhaliwalSports)
  • Daniel Carr has signed with the Golden Knights. Scored 14 goals in 98 games with the Canadiens including six last season in 38 games. One year, $750,000. (Source: @BBarts, @PierreVLeBrun)
  • Golden Knights announced the signings of Alex Gallant and Jimmy Oligny. Both career AHLers. (Source: VGK Press Release)
  • Luca Sbisa will not be re-signing with the Golden Knights (Source:
  • George McPhee will hold a press conference at 2PM to discuss today’s transactions.


The Free Agency Tracker is brought to you by Adam S. Kutner and Associates, the best Las Vegas personal injury attorney.

Potential Replacements For James Neal, David Perron, And Ryan Reaves

Since George McPhee’s “not everyone will be back” quote there’s been a growing fear that the Golden Knights roster won’t be as strong in Year 2 as it was in the magical Year 1. McPhee noted there are always three or four changes which has the speculation on James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, and Ryan Reaves running wild.

Sportsnet reported earlier this season that James Neal was looking for a long-term deal commanding upwards of $7M per season.

It’s mildly surprising that he hasn’t re-signed in Las Vegas because he would like to stay there. He’s one of the team leaders. It still could get done. –USA Today

Remember when this happened? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s hard to believe the organization would give a massive contract to a player over the age of 30, but would they on a player who’s 29?

Potential Replacement:

James Van Riemsdyk
29 Years-old
2017-18 Stats: 36 Goals (11 PPG), 18 Assists, 14:54 ATOI
Career Stats: 201 Goals, 393 Points, 0.33 Goals Per Game, 0.65 Points Per Game
Contract Speculation: 7 Years, $6M+ AAV

Neal has 62 more career goals and is one year and 243 days older than van Riemsdyk. Both wingers have comparable career statistics, and the age difference isn’t wide. The Golden Knights know what they’re getting with Neal; 20+ goals, second-line minutes, plays with edge. It’s an unknown if van Riemsdyk can repeat his success in Vegas.

I could see Neal being offered a high-cost, short-term contract, but the question remains if we would be willing to sign it. It’s likely his last chance at a long-term deal. One thing is for sure, if the Golden Knights offer JVR a contract, it’s a sign they’re content moving on from Neal.

Van Riemsdyk was integral to the Leafs’ potent first power-play unit but was otherwise seeing third-line minutes. On another squad — Carolina? Vegas? New York? New Jersey? San Jose? — he’d be a top-six fixture again. -Sportsnet

He’s said all the right things about coming back, but it’s going to take a discount to make it actually happen. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

David Perron is a player many fans fell in love with. His silky hands, his beautiful passing, his pestering ways, how can you not love him? With Perron, the feeling is mutual. He loves it in Vegas, he loves his teammates, and he’d love to stay here. Or at least so he says to Vegas media.

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“Not Everyone Will Be Back”; A Look Into VGK’s Free Agency Situation (Plus 9 Predictions)

Reading between the lines, either Neal or Perron likely won’t be back. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights were close to the ultimate goal, but in the end, they fell three wins short. So, they now head to the offseason with a plan in mind, make the team three wins better than they were a year ago.

There are plenty of decisions to be made with the roster as currently constructed and oodles of cap space available to bring in outside help.

The reality is in a salary cap world you have to make some tough decisions, and with this team, not everyone will be back. We’ve all learned lessons over the years, if you examine what happens in the salary cap world you have to be smart about what you do and the contracts you hand out or it hurts your team. We’ll do our best to keep this group together but there are always three or four changes. -George McPhee

The Golden Knights have four major unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) which are set to hit the open market on July 1st. They are James Neal, David Perron, Ryan Reaves, and Luca Sbisa. Also, Maxime Lagace, Jason Garrison, Brandon Pirri, Mikhail Grabovski, Clayton Stoner, Chris Casto, and Paul Thompson will become UFA’s in 20 days.

It doesn’t matter where in the lineup, you have to be smart about what you do. -McPhee

Then there are the restricted free agents (RFA’s) of which the Golden Knights have plenty. The most notable is William Karlsson. In short, Karlsson is not going anywhere. Unless something unprecedented happens, he’ll absolutely remain the first line center for Vegas next season. However, the projections on his contract are all over the map.

Technically, the Golden Knights only have to extend a “qualifying offer” to Karlsson of $1 million. This will happen soon and then Karlsson and his agent will request arbitration. An arbitration date will be set sometime in late July to early August. That will basically be the deadline for the Golden Knights and Karlsson to reach a long-term extension.

Tomas Nosek, Colin Miller, Oscar Dansk, Teemu Pulkkinen, Stefan Matteau, and Philip Holm are also all arbitration eligible and would follow the same process.

Finally, there are the two younger players who are RFA’s in Shea Theodore and William Carrier. Due to their age, neither are arbitration eligible. Thus, the Golden Knights can simply extend them a qualifying offer (Theodore -$874,125, Carrier – $787,500) and the player will have to sign it and remain with the team through next season. However, especially with a player like Theodore, this offseason may be a good time to lock him up long-term before he gets arbitration rights and has more negotiating power. The two sides can come to an agreement on a long-term deal at any time.

That brings us to the magical world of unrestricted free agency which opens on July 1st. Names like John Tavares, James van Riemsdyk, and John Carlson will be thrown around with basically every team that has cap space. The Golden Knights have plenty of cap space so get used to seeing the big names linked to Vegas, but the Golden Knights also have a GM that’s historically not a big spender in free agency.

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Stanley Cup Final Game 1, Only In Vegas

It was always going to be special, just how special though was yet to be seen. The opening game of the Stanley Cup Final, in Las Vegas, with an expansion team taking the ice. The stage was massive and the expectation was for something never seen before.

This site was created to follow a hockey team, one that just won a game in the Stanley Cup Final, so we kind of have to start with the actual hockey.  Thus, we’ll go at it backwards, beginning with the empty netter to seal the win and ending with some combination of Lil Jon, Travis Barker, Lee Greenwood.

William Karlsson scored, but his line tallied an uncharacteristic 0 +/- rating. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights hockey team cannot be defined in one way like many often attempt to, and on the biggest stage the sport has to offer, they proved it once again.  Most of this postseason it’s been about Marc-Andre Fleury’s dominance between the pipes, yet tonight was far from his best. The Golden Knight defense has been carrying the torch slowing down the potent Jets and Sharks and allowing the Kings virtually nothing, yet tonight, they were a kind of a mess. The top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith can usually be leaned on to dominate stretches of the game, yet tonight they were hot and cold.

Normally when plans A, B, and C go by the wayside a team is sunk Not the Golden Knights because they have narratives for days. Tonight’s is not a new one at all, it’s one that’s followed them all year and is constantly referenced even when not on display in a game. Tonight was about depth.

It’s great when you see those guys get rewarded. They got three huge goals for us tonight. -Gerard Gallant

After playing a series in which there were zero lead changes in five games, the Golden Knights and Capitals Game 1 saw four, the most in the history of a Stanley Cup Final game. The last one was because of a trio of unanswered goals from none other than Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek, who scored two.

Sometimes we can’t create a lot of offense, tonight somehow it bounced right for us. It’s not really magical play we are doing, there’s not really a crazy recipe. We are just trying to outwork who we are playing against and tonight we got rewarded. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

The storylines are always different, but kinds of remain the same. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There are so many different weapons in the Golden Knights arsenal. If it’s not Fleury, it’s the defense. If it’s not the defense, it’s the top line. If it’s not the top line, it’s the depth players. If it’s not the depth players it’s luck or bounces or opportunity or something completely else. In the end, no matter the path, it usually results in the same thing, a win.

But the night was not just about the on-ice product, it was everything. Gladys Knight, Criss Angel, Lee Greenwood, Lil Jon, and of course Michael Buffer. Like the Expansion Draft with the players, it didn’t all make sense, no one really knew how or if it would all fit, but it did.

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