Ryan Reaves signs with the Toronto Maple Leafs
(Photo Credit: @HockeyWilderness/ Twitter)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have bolstered their lineup by securing veteran forward, Ryan Reaves, on a three-year, $4.05 million contract ($1.35M AAV). This significant investment indicates a strategic move by the Leafs to bring size, physicality, and toughness to their roster – characteristics the team has been criticized for lacking in the past.

Reaves, a Winnipeg native, has had a 13-year career, featuring 828 regular-season games, primarily as a long-term enforcer and punishing hitter. He has previously suited up for the New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Vegas Golden Knights, Pittsburgh Penguins, and St. Louis Blues.

In his last season with the Wild, Reaves had five goals and 10 assists last season, with 43 penalty minutes, bringing his career total PIMs to 1,023.

Reaves’ signing is the first major move by new Toronto general manager, Brad Treliving, who replaced Kyle Dubas in late June. Reaves’ signing comes as part of a broader shakeup for the Leafs, who lost a number of free agents including Michael Bunting, Luke Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly, Justin Holl, and Erik Källgren.

For the signing to be seen as successful, Reaves will have to deliver on making Toronto more multidimensional, especially in the postseason where the Leafs have struggled.

Reaves himself appears to be ready for the challenge. Asked how he’ll deal with the pressure that comes with being a Maple Leaf, Reaves quipped, “I’ll just beat somebody up and all the pressure’s over”.

Darren Dreger suggested that Reaves’ fun personality could make him an instant fan favorite, potentially even taking some of the focus off the bigger stars in Toronto. Reaves’ funny moments have made him a well-liked player around the league.

The Leafs, who have multiple high-end scoring threats including Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander, believe Reaves’ experience and style of play can complement their offensive prowess. They hope that his physical presence on the ice will add a layer of grit to their game, a characteristic often associated with visorless players.

The Leafs and Wild had exclusive negotiating rights until free agency opened. It’s clear that the Leafs saw value in adding Reaves to their roster, as they were reportedly keen to make a pitch for the veteran winger once free agency commenced. All three years of his contract are guaranteed and will count against the cap, even if Reaves retires, because he’s over 35.

This story is developing, and more details about Ryan Reaves’ contract, as well as quotes from him and the Toronto GM, are anticipated to be released soon.