The Toronto Maple Leafs recent signing of Ryan Reaves has been a move that stirs different emotions among Maple Leafs hockey fans. To some, he embodies the spirit of old-school, physical hockey – an enforcer who keeps the opponents honest and defends his teammates. To others, he’s seen as a relic of a bygone era, with a style of play that has no place in the modern NHL.

So, is Ryan Reaves a benefit or a liability to the Toronto Maple Leafs? In this post, I’d like to explore both sides of the coin.

Related: Analyzing Maple Leafs Stats After 3 Games: 8 Key Findings

The Benefits of Having Reaves on the Ice for the Maple Leafs

Benefit One: Reaves’ Intimidation Factor

Reaves is undoubtedly one of the most feared enforcers in the league. His presence on the ice keeps opposing players on their toes. He enforces a code of conduct where cheap shots and reckless play against his teammates are met with immediate consequences.

Benefit Two: Reaves Protecte the Maple Leafs Stars

The Maple Leafs boast an impressive roster with skilled players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Reaves serves as their bodyguard, deterring opponents from taking liberties with these star players. He’s quick to step in when things get chippy, getting chippier himself. In this act, he ensures the team’s stars can focus on scoring goals.

Benefit Three: Reaves Brings Entertainment Value

Among many, Reaves has become a fan favourite. The excitement and energy generated by a well-timed hit can be infectious. The anticipation of a potential Reaves tussle adds an extra layer of excitement to the game, boosting ticket sales and jersey purchases. While I am not a fan of fighting myself, given the way the game is called I believe signing Reaves was a logical response to the team being pushed around during the postseason.

Related: 3 Key Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 4-1 Loss to the Blackhawks

The Drawbacks of Reaves for the Maple Leafs

Drawback One: Reaves Has a Limited Skill Set

Critics argue that Reaves lacks the offensive prowess and overall hockey skills that modern NHL forwards need to possess. He primarily serves as an enforcer, contributing very little offensively. In today’s fast-paced game, these critics suggest that every player must have some offensive capability.

Drawback Two: Reaves Doesn’t Get Much Playing Time

Reaves’ ice time is significantly limited, averaging around 8 minutes per game. In the playoffs, this might even decrease. Will this leave Reaves the Maple Leafs short-handed in critical situations. His limited playing time could also hinder the development of young, skilled players.

Drawback Three: There Is a Shift Coming in NHL Culture

Hockey has been evolving, with the NHL and fans emphasizing skill, speed, and scoring. Reaves represents a style of play that runs counter to this shift in culture. With increasing concerns about player safety, fighting is under scrutiny, and the NHL is trending towards reducing or eliminating it.

The Bottom Line

While there are valid arguments on both sides, Reaves’ impact on the Maple Leafs can’t be dismissed. He adds an intimidating dimension to the team’s playstyle, ensuring that opponents think twice before engaging in reckless behaviour.

Nonetheless, the NHL landscape is changing, and the question remains: will the benefits of having a player like Reaves outweigh the drawbacks in the long run? As the season progresses, we’ll see how his presence shapes the team’s success and whether he can strike the right balance between enforcing and contributing to the team’s overall game.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Reaves: More Than Just Muscle

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