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Reaves believes Golden Knights can 'make another run,' win Stanley Cup

Forward says trip to Final was no fluke, pieces are in place to finish job

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WINNIPEG -- Ryan Reaves says the Vegas Golden Knights are focused on taking the next step this season. That means one thing: winning the Stanley Cup.

"I think the expectation in the locker room, for sure, is to do what we did last year and then to finish the job in the Final," the 31-year-old forward said Monday after an offseason workout. "I think we know we have the team in there and with the city behind us and the buzz in the city and the way they support the team, we're ready to make another run."

Vegas had a remarkable inaugural season, winning the Pacific Division and reaching the Stanley Cup Final, which they lost to the Washington Capitals in five games. The Golden Knights swept the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference First Round and then got past the San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets to reach the Final.

Reaves started the season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was traded to Vegas, along with a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft for center Derick Brassard on Feb. 23.

Reaves said his experience with the Golden Knights, especially in the postseason, makes him believe there will be no difficulty with much higher expectations this season.

"The team is not made up of superstars and there are no big egos that you have to deal with," said Reaves, who had two goals in 10 playoff games. "It's just a bunch of guys that proved something last year and I think now want to prove they can win a Stanley Cup. We proved everyone wrong last season, but nobody remembers who was second. It's about who won the Cup."

Reaves pointed to chemistry as a big reason for the Golden Knights' success. They set NHL records for wins (51) and points (109) by an expansion team.

"It was about how much fun they have at the rink," said Reaves, who re-signed with the Golden Knights on June 30 (terms of the contract were not disclosed). "Part of the winning atmosphere there is that everyone comes to the rink and they genuinely want to be there. You have fun on the ice with the boys, and fun off the ice. That's the main thing.

"It makes you want to be there every day and to work hard and get the job done. Sometimes, well, I've been on teams where it's tough to get to the rink because of whatever situation, and I didn't ever feel like that in Vegas."

Video: Reaves discusses re-signing with Vegas for two years

Reaves said that even before he was traded to Vegas, he detected a different kind of bond had been established among the players.

"First month, they were in first place and people might have said, 'OK, that's going to fizzle out,'" he said. "Second month, they were still up there and some thought it might still be a fluke. Now third month, people probably thought they might be for real and fourth and fifth months, they were still up there and sure looked legit. They were sure tough to play against.

"When I went there with Pittsburgh to play them (Dec. 14, 2017, a 2-1 Vegas win), I remember we left the rink thinking it was no fluke what was going on, that that team could play and they were fast and they swarmed everywhere. That was tough to play against."

Though the Golden Knights lost forwards James Neal and David Perron to free agency, they did sign center Paul Stastny on July 1. Stastny, 32, had 16 goals and 37 assists with the Jets and St. Louis Blues last season.

"He's obviously really big on the power play," Reaves said of Stastny, his teammate with the Blues from 2014-17. "Look at what he did in the playoffs last year (seven goals and nine assists in 17 playoff games for the Jets) and the poise and vision he brings. I think he's one of the best set-up men and when you put some goal-scorers around him, he's going to get them the puck. I saw that when I played with him in St. Louis.

"I'm glad he came down to Vegas instead of staying with Winnipeg. Paul Stastny is a big piece to any puzzle that you're trying to put together."

Another move that made Reaves happy was the Golden Knights signing goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to a three-year $21 million contract extension on July 13. Fleury, 33, was 29-13-4 (2.24 goals-against average, .927 save percentage) in the regular season and 13-7 (2.24 GAA, .927 save percentage) in the playoffs.

"He's the best goalie in the world; you want to have that guy locked up," Reaves said. "I think having a goalie like that, you give your team a chance to win every night (even if) the boys aren't playing well."

After a remarkable run last season, it's up to Vegas to take the next step. 

"Now we're out to prove to everybody we can do it again and finish the job," Reaves said.

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