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
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.
Reaves scored four goals in his last 20 regular season games in St. Louis while averaging 11:15 of ice time over that span. He then scored four in 58 games in Pittsburgh averaging just 6:45. Back up over 11:00 this year in Vegas, he’s got the three in 11 games including his first career power-play goal.
Also, for the first time in his career, Reaves is on pace to average less than a penalty minute per game played. The main reason for this is due to the decrease in fighting. He’s been in just one fight in 32 regular season games with the Golden Knights.
When you ask any hockey fan, and probably a majority of players to describe Ryan Reaves’ game, it’s usually going to go down the path of calling him a fighter, an intimidator, and a fourth-line checking extraordinaire. That’s not the one that’s been suiting up in steel grey and gold every night since he’s been in Vegas. Here, he plays a fast game, is dangerous off the puck, and is growing a knack for scoring the big-time goal.
This is 2018-19 Ryan Reaves.
This Ryan Reaves is tied for third leading goal scorer on the reigning Western Conference Champions. This Ryan Reaves is on pace for a career year in goals, points, shots, time on ice, and penalty minutes (fewest). This Ryan Reaves has his “fourth” line playing and producing at higher level than the team’s second and third lines. This Ryan Reaves belongs on the power play and probably deserves more than 11 minutes per game. This Ryan Reaves is not the one you remember from his early days in St. Louis.
This Ryan Reaves is one hell of a hockey player.