Apparently Blues brass really feels like Reaves is a good enough blend of various talents that doesn't make him easy to replace. He's also a cheap cap hit which makes him more enticing to Vegas, especially if the Golden Knights are taking on some big cap hits from Clarkson, etc.
I could see Vegas taking someone like Reaves (if we had left him unprotected). New teams, especially in a place like Vegas, want to generate excitement and energy. Reaves is that type of guy. His style of play and personality would make him an instant fan favorite.
When you are trying to get over the hump of winning a Cup, he might not have as much value to you. If, however, you are trying to establish a fan base from scratch and create a name for your team by giving people something to talk about by adding colorful personalities, I could see how Reaves would foot the bill.
On a semi-related note, Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy feels about how we do about the Blues' protected list: https://sports.yahoo.com/nhl-expansion-draft-12-biggest-surprises-vegas-protected-lists-164649994.html
Whatever the Blues are doing
The Blues’ protection list is a real curiosity. If Ottawa thinks the Knights lay off Ryan’s salary, why did the Blues think they’d take on $7 million of Paul Stastny for a year? Because he’s a center? Why on earth are they protecting Ryan Reaves, and leaving David Perron exposed? Is Vlad Sobotka infinitely more important than Carl Gunnarsson and Robert Bortuzzo on defense?
Agreed on Reaves. I really emphasize the cap hit situation too because although, yea, Vegas has a "clear" team their cap space isn't unlimited and there's only so many dead weight contracts they can take on. They have to get their younger, cap friendly players from somewhere and Reaves would fit that bill and, as you say, generate some excitement and fan interaction.
As to the Puck Daddy article: Yup, that's where I got the $7 million cap hit thing from.
I think Ottawa's strategy is going to backfire, I think Vegas would be thrilled to get a guy like Ryan. Yea it's a large cap hit but you also need some first line talent out there and I know Ryan has declined here in recent years but as the playoffs showed he is still a darn good talent. You're overpaying a bit, sure, but you have to score some goals out there. I think Vegas takes him. Stastny is slightly older, less talented, and only one year left on that deal. Would make far less sense for Vegas to take him as opposed to Ryan.