The Rangers have played less than two games as a fully healthy team. As one player comes back, another one gets hurt. While the on-ice impact of each injury varies by player, with Filip Chytil’s injury having the biggest net-negative impact, there are still many questions about the bottom six that can’t be answered until fully healthy. But one thing is for sure: Ryan Reaves should be a part time player once the Rangers are healthy.
This is no disrespect to Reaves. We love Reaves’ contributions off the ice for the Rangers, and he is a big part why the vibes/60 are off the charts for this team. He was brought in mostly for that reason, to help bring the locker room together to be a cohesive unit, something the Rangers weren’t under David Quinn. Salary and contract aside, which is a problem for the Rangers right now, Reaves has done what Chris Drury wanted.
On the ice, though, it’s hard to ignore that Reaves is older, slower, and his already rough on-ice impact has taken another turn for the worse. Reaves, who will be 36 in January, is certainly a step slower this year. We may see flashes of what he gave the Rangers in that first period against the Penguins in the playoffs last year, but they will likely be few and far between.
As of the writing of this post, Reaves is currently sporting a 40.5 CF% and a 36.74 xGF%. It’s too early in the season for these numbers to be of greater value, but we can at least use the small sample to back up the claims that he’s been pretty ineffective on the ice and it would benefit the Rangers to make Ryan Reaves a part time player.
Funny enough, Reaves is actually in line with his overall CF% and xGF% numbers from last year. The big difference is in the play driving stats, where Reaves is sporting a 1.3 xGF/60, down from 1.53 last season. His xGA/60 number is actually better than last year, at least so far, down to 2.23 from 2.55 last season. There’s some nuance to this, like role and sample size, but it’s still a strong case to make Ryan Reaves a part time player.
Goals and assists are not part of Reaves’ game. It never has been and never will be. That’s fine, as you need to have a balanced team. What the Rangers need Reaves to do on the fourth line is play an effective shutdown role by both limiting chances against (which he is!) and finishing shifts out of the defensive zone (which he is not).
Another troubling aspect is that Reaves starts most of his shifts either on the fly (54%) or in the offensive zone (10%). So he’s not being used in the expected shutdown role, at least per his deployment by Gerard Gallant. Reaves, right now, is a minutes eater with no real role. All the more reason to make him a part time player when the Rangers are healthy.
Of course, the Rangers haven’t been fully healthy. But with Filip Chytil hopeful to return this week, that should push Reaves to the press box. Hopefully he still releases the Rangers every game, something I think has helped with team bonding, but that’s really it. Reaves should be a part time player in the right situation going forward, if the Rangers are to be the best team they can be on the ice.