Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is appreciative of general manager Jim Rutherford’s decision to acquire rugged Ryan Reaves to provide on-ice protection for him and his teammates.

“When you get a player like that who is that tough it creates some room for guys,” Crosby told USA TODAY Sports.

At the NHL draft, the Penguins paid a heavy price – a first-round pick (No. 31 in 2017) and prospect Oskar Sundqvist to the St. Louis Blues – to acquire Reaves (and No. 51 pick in 2017) primarily because they believe opponents are targeting Crosby for extra physical abuse.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Reaves is a physical force. Although he only recorded six fighting majors last season, according to hockeyfights.com, he always serves as a deterrent to opponents abusing his teammates. He totaled 104 penalty minutes in 2016-17, and has 695 in 419 regular-season games.