Saturday, July 1, 2023

Ryan Reaves to the Maple Leafs: What it says about Brad Treliving’s mindset

There are two ways to look at the Maple Leafs signing Ryan Reaves to a three-year deal, after apparently making him one of their top priorities in free agency.

The first is that it’s a low-risk bet on a veteran who has a defined role and knows how to fill it. Reaves is as close as today’s NHL comes to an old-school enforcer, the guy who’s there to make sure the other team stays in line. He doesn’t have to fight to do that job, but he will, and opponents know it. The Maple Leafs have plenty of skill at the top of the lineup but they can be pushed around, and traditional hockey thinking says that means there needs to be snarl at the bottom.

At three years and a $1.35 million cap hit, Reaves won’t crush the Leafs’ salary cap, especially as the ceiling rises over the next few years. And while he’s 36 years old, the skillset the Leafs are buying isn’t one that will diminish with age. If it doesn’t work, he didn’t cost all that much. If it does work, he could be one of the most popular players in Toronto, the Tie Domi for a new era.

That’s the positive spin. Are you buying it?

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