Why the Penguins traded out of first round to get Ryan Reaves

ST PAUL, MN – MARCH 07: Ryan Reaves #75 of the St. Louis Blues talks to Ryan Suter #20 of the Minnesota Wild before a face-off during the third period of the game on March 07, 2017 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Blues defeated the Wild 2-1. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong was active during the opening round of the 2017 draft making two trades and drafting Kilm Kostin with the 31st and final pick of the night.

Armstrong’s first deal sent Jori Lehtera, the 27th pick in the first round and a conditional 2018 selection to the Philadelphia Flyers for Brayden Schenn. The Flyers ended up taking Sault Ste. Marie forward Morgan Frost at that spot.

That was one win for Armstrong. The second came not long after when the Pittsburgh Penguins dealt that No. 31 overall pick and Oskar Sundqvist to St. Louis for Ryan Reaves and the 51st pick.

It was likely that the Penguins were going to trade out of that spot, but why the focus on adding a bottom-liner in Reaves? General manager Jim Rutherford wanted to add toughness to his lineup to protect his stars.

“We won the Cup and teams played us even harder than they usually do,” Rutherford said via the Tribune Review. “Now we expect them to come again this (coming season), so it was important to get him.”

“He can play. He skates very well for a big guy. He gets in on the forecheck, which is what we like. He can certainly fit into our system and play.”

The 30-year-old Reaves had a career best seven goals and 13 points this season while also reaching triple digits in penalty minutes for the fourth time in his career. He’s also entering the final year of his deal and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018.

It’s a steep price to pay, and the Penguins probably could have found some protection for Sid and Geno in free agency for cheaper; but Reaves’ play, not just his toughness, was worth the package in Rutherford’s mind to keep his best players in the lineup.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!