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2018 Player Report Card: Ryan Reaves

A look at what happened and didn’t happen in the brief time Ryan Reaves was a Pittsburgh Penguin

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

(We usually only do these report cards for current Penguin players, but given how much of a lightning rod and polarizing player this guy was, we figured it would be interesting to look back at the portion of his season spent in Pittsburgh to take a look at what did, and didn’t happen analytically, beyond just the typical and predictable talking points from each well-known side)

Player Details: Ryan Reaves

2017-18 season Age: 31

Resume (via hockeydb):

Fancier stats:

Reaves performed like a 4th line forward. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

Most of Reaves time was with Greg McKegg and Tom Kuhnhackl early in the season and then a lot of Carter Rowney and Riley Sheahan later in the season. In totally related news, a major focus of Pittsburgh’s offseason is upgrading the 4th line. Reading the names in this paragraph tell you why (sorry Riley!)

But, in most regards if any of Reaves’ biggest critics projecting/expecting the type of David Koci/Tom Sestito big, dumb enforcer who barely needs to carry a stick, this wasn’t the case. Reaves, more or less, was about an average even strength 4th line player.

And on the flip side of the coin from the last paragraph, for those that thought coming into this season that Reaves would flourish offensively with the Penguins and even improve on career highs in goals (7) assists (6) and points (13), well...Not so much. Reaves scored 8 points (4g+4a) in 58 games, not on pace to clear any of his personal bests.

Worse, Reaves only had 34 shots on goal in his 58 games in Pittsburgh (.58 per game). This was down from his .73 shots/game last season in St. Louis. Reaves certainly did not come close to meeting the offensive expectations from his biggest supporters.


Monthly Splits (via yahoo)

Not really too much going on there, limited ice-time and production. Failing to do too much in Nov+Dec (0g+1a and a -4 in 27 games) probably made it easier to imagine going into the playoffs without Reaves in the lineup, as any hopes he would be some 10g+10a type monster 4th liner were lost by Christmas.


Only 6 were brave enough to dare enter fisticuffs with Reaves this season (you won’t see Tom Wilson’s name here!) All 6 were soundly defeated. Via hockeyfights

The Grades:

Even Strength: D

Average for a 4th liner, but most 4th liners aren’t good players. More goals went in the wrong net, which is never good.

Grit: A+++

Off the charts

Pranks on teammates: A+

Enforcing: A

Did as much as he could considering no one can really deter or beat people up without a “Fair fight” with the climate in today’s sport with the instigator rule saving punks. Won all his battles. One reader also added that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were slashed less this season than years past, but I couldn’t find that data to corroborate.

Overall: C-

A failed experiment, as Reaves probably wasn’t as good as management hoped he would be as a player. If this was 1980 or 1990, Reaves would have had a great season. Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on your viewpoint), he’s about the last of his type as the dying breed of “pure enforcer” becomes just about extinct in the NHL in 2018.