The Pittsburgh Penguins wanted to get more physical, and they’ve added forward Ryan Reaves from the St. Louis Blues to do it. On Friday, the Penguins acquired Reaves and the No. 51 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from the Blues in exchange for center Oskar Sundqvist and the No. 31 overall pick.
St. Louis used the No. 31 overall pick to select highly regarded Russian winger Klim Kostin.
Reaves, 30, is known for his bruising play on the ice. Never a big scorer, he set a career-high with just 13 points last season. Over 419 career games with St. Louis, he recorded 27 goals and 24 assists.
So the Penguins aren’t expecting Reaves to score for them. They’re expecting him to fill a fourth-line role as a defensive-minded winger and enforcer who can help defend Sidney Crosby and company on the ice. It’s fair to wonder whether Reaves’ presence will actually prevent teams from taking liberties against Crosby, but Pittsburgh clearly felt after winning its second straight Stanley Cup that it needed that element.
The Blues get Sundqvist, a 2012 third-round pick who has appeared in just 28 games, but the real prize is moving up 20 spots in the draft. That allowed them to draft Kostin, a potential top-10 pick who fell to No. 31 because of concerns after an injury-marred season. The Blues had great success drafting Vladimir Taranseko, another Russian winger, in the first round, so you can see why they’re willing to take the gamble on Kostin.
Reaves has one year at a $1.125 million cap hit remaining on his contract. Sundqvist is a restricted free agent.