Anaheim, Calif. — The Rangers traded Ryan Reavis to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday as a necessary step to function adequately under the salary cap, but the acquisition of the veteran winger in July 2021 was a pivotal move in getting the club where it is today.
The Rangers received a fifth round selection in the 2025 NHL Draft from the Wild in exchange for Reaves. More importantly, they’ve created $1.343 million in cap space, cut the roster down to 22 players and can now start amassing more in preparation for the trade deadline.
The trade was bound to happen, but so was Reeves’ tenure with the Rangers, who desperately needed that little bit of the swagger the 35-year-old outlet carries with him every day.
Reaves still has value as an NHL player, just no longer for this Rangers team. Having skated in 11 of the first 12 games this season, it’s becoming clear that Reaves just can’t keep up with the quick, skilful style of play that the Rangers aspire to play. Reeves only dressed once in eight contests before the Rangers’ 3-2 loss to the Ducks, making him a logical candidate to move one way or another.
At the end of last season’s playoff run, getting scratched in Games 5 and 6 of the Conference Final against the Lightning, it’s not lost on Reeves that his fourth-line specialist role may diminish depending on how things unfold in his off-season. That became a reality fairly quickly.
It is believed that there was an understanding between Reeves’ camp and the Rangers team that if a fit could be found elsewhere, a deal would be struck. Trade facilitation has long been the preferred path so that the Rangers can shell out as much salary as possible off the books, rather than the $1.125 million prorated they would have received by allocating Reaves to AHL Hartford.
Part of it was also wanting to give Reaves a dignified exit. The impact he made during his 483 days in New York did not go unnoticed, and the Rangers clearly wanted him to do right.
There was interest in Reaves, but not as much as it might have been had it not been for how Julien Gaultier jumped him on the depth chart. Gerard Gallant coached Reeves with Vegas, and they developed a relationship, so the fact that the Rangers coach didn’t play with him likely says a lot for the rest of the league.
The trade appears to have benefited everyone involved. The Rangers received a low draft pick, which may not sound like much, but it really is when considering that they couldn’t have gotten anything if they had waived Reaves and been claimed. Reaves joins an up-and-coming team with young talent and a familiar face in Wild General Manager Bill Guerin, who was an assistant to Jim Rutherford when he was with the Penguins in 2017-18. And Minnesota is getting a player known for bringing life into the locker room.
“It’s not for the fight,” Guerin told The Athletic. “He’s such a big character. He’s got so much energy. He’s got swagger. We lost that. The energy he brings is really good. And the scale. He’s going to help us get our identity back.”
This is the essence of Reeves. The Rangers needed his moving demeanor, infectious demeanor, and fearless presence. Reaves is considered more than his physical contributions on the ice. There’s a different kind of confidence in the locker room with a player like Reaves.
Reeves brought fun to every workout, often making his teammates laugh along the boards between practices. Every one of his Rangers teammates has said at least once that they skate a little longer whenever he’s around. He taught Vitaly Kravtsov how to fight. He even coined his own tradition before a game, shouting at the top of his lungs to goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin to “fire” the rest of the team.
Parting ways may have been necessary, but the Rangers needed Reaves to help rediscover their flair. They would likely still be able to hear the echoes of his voice every time they took out the ice.
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