The Rangers’ roster tilts heavily toward youth and finesse-oriented skaters. But head coach David Quinn’s team will require at least some measure of size and veteran toughness on the ice and experience in the room in order to navigate the season successfully.
To that end, The Post has learned that the Blueshirts are keenly interested in 31-year-old Vegas winger Ryan Reaves, who will become a free agent when the market opens at noon Sunday.
The time of brawlers is done forever in the NHL and no one seriously believes a single player can act as an immutable deterrent on the ice. But credible strength is necessary and the amount of comfort Reaves — or a player with the same characteristics — is likely to be able to provide the young group assembled by management is important.
Reaves is coming off a four-year contract under which he earned $1.125 million per year. He will likely command at least twice that average value on this deal after completing the season on the fourth line for the Cup-finalist Golden Knights. The Rangers have ample cap space with which to work. The issue probably will become the term of the deal, with management hoping to limit commitments to free agents to two years.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder, extremely popular among his teammates, spent the first seven years of his career with the Blues before he was traded to the Penguins last summer with a second-rounder for a prospect and Pittsburgh’s first-round draft choice. He was then traded to Vegas at the deadline as part of the complex, three-way deal in which Derick Brassard went from the Senators to the Penguins.
Reaves recorded 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 79 games overall with 94 Penalty Infractions (and six fights) with negative relative possession ratings. He averaged 7:36 of ice time per game, 6:45 with Pittsburgh and 9:55 with Vegas. The right-hand shot had two goals and no assists in 10 playoff games this season while skating primarily on the unit with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the middle and Tomas Nosek on the left.
The Rangers’ shadow roster currently features Mats Zuccarello, Pavel Buchnevich and Jesper Fast on the right side.
The highlight of Thursday’s scrimmage at prospects’ camp was provided by Vitali Kravtsov. The first-rounder unveiled his own abbreviated “bird celebration” after scoring. It was an obvious display of humor in homage to Capitals winger Evgeny Kuznetsov, to whom Kravtsov has been likened.
Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil both showed off their pedigree, much as a travel-team player would in a house-league game. … Brett Howden played with a physical edge throughout. … Lefty defenseman Sean Day, who is comfortable playing both sides, was on the right for the second consecutive day. … Camp will conclude following Friday’s scrimmage.
Kevin Shattenkirk has begun skating while continuing his rehab from the left knee surgery he underwent in January that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. The defenseman, who is getting married in a few weeks, is expected to be unencumbered when training camp commences in September.
The Blueshirts presumably will be free to unveil the remainder of the coaching staff Sunday or soon thereafter. NHL coaching/management contracts generally expire June 30.
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