Before the opening of free agency, it was made clear by the New York Rangers that they were looking to get bigger and stronger for the upcoming season, needing to address what they called the “Tom Wilson Problem.” This prompted the team to acquire tough guy Ryan Reaves from the Vegas Golden Knights in return for a third-round pick in 2022.
As you may remember, Wilson was fined $5000 this season for punching Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head as he was facedown on the ice, while also throwing star Artemi Panarin to the ice in the ensuing scrum. When the teams faced off again days later, a line brawl featuring all six forwards erupted on the ice in the opening seconds of the game. Three more broke out in the first period alone, including Wilson taking on Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith. It was madness.
Can you imagine what things would have looked like if Reaves had been on the Rangers’ roster at this time?
Reaves actually explained how he would have handled Wilson during the offseason, as he was still a member of the Golden Knights. This is how it would have been if he had worn the Blue Shirts’ outfit:
“Because if that happens and he doesn’t get kicked out of that game, I can promise you, we’re fighting three times that game,” Reaves said. “And if he does get kicked out of that game, I promise you, I’m telling him, ‘We’re fighting three times (next game) or I’m jumping you. Take your pick. Defend yourself or let’s just get it over with.’”
As you can tell by Reaves’ answer, things could have gotten way worse if Reaves was in the lineup! Wow!
Reaves put up one goal and five points in 37 games with the Golden Knights last season. More relevantly though, he had three fighting majors and 27 minutes in penalties over the same span. Look for that number to inflate in 2021-22 though. You just know that Reaves is going to work hard to impress upon his new teammates in New York. After all, he’s always been a team-first kind of guy who’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. Add to the fact that Reaves will be playing under new Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant, with whom he went to the Stanley Cup Final with Vegas in 2018, and I’m willing to bet that Reaves will come out guns ‘a blazin’ in New York, looking to fix that Wilson problem.