Colorado Avalanche: Analyzing the Ryan Graves Acquisition


The Colorado Avalanche swapped minor league defensemen with the New York Rangers at the trade deadline acquiring Ryan Graves for Chris Bigras.

At the eleventh hour, the Colorado Avalanche extended their streak to 16 consecutive years with a trade on deadline day. While the team did not make a blockbuster, it may have improved the organization. The Avs and Rangers swapped defensemen, who were seemingly in similar positions within their respective organizations.

Chris Bigras

Chris Bigras began the season with the Colorado Avalanche, playing an unspectacular 15 games with the club. He last appeared in a game for the big club on November, 22. Bigras was averaging a meagre 13:52 of ice time per game. He also had negative advanced stats, with unimpressive Corsi and Fenwick numbers.

Once sent to San Antonio, Bigras registered six points in 20 games. He also missed over a month with an injury. It says a lot about how the Avs looked at Bigras that he was not called up when Colorado suffered two injuries to d-men in the same game. Instead, they called up a seemingly career AHL player in David Warsofsky and claimed another one in Mark Alt off waivers.

Ryan Graves

The New York Rangers found themselves in a similar situation to the one the Avs found themselves in. They have been overwhelmed with recent injuries to defensemen. Three members of the Hartford Wolfpack recently made their NHL debuts. Ryan Graves was not among them. Instead, the 22-year old defensemen remained in Hartford while some of his teammates got promoted.

More from Mile High Sticking

Graves was selected with a fourth round pick in 2013 by the New York Rangers. He is a big kid, coming in at 6’4” and 220 lbs. By all accounts his size is his main asset, while his skating ability is his greatest weakness. However, at only 22, he has time to work on improving his skating skills. If he can improve there, it seems like he could be an asset for the future at the NHL level.

Despite his lack of skating ability, Graves has managed to put up good point totals for a young AHL defenseman. He has 62 points in 207 games for the Wolfpack. He has also been remarkably durable, especially for a young player adjusting to pro hockey.

January 27, 2018 (Charlotte Checkers at Hartford Wolfpack)

I was fortunate enough to see Ryan Graves play a game, in person, back in January. As a late Christmas present, I took my mom, who is a die-hard Rangers fan, presently in mourning at the state of her team, to see some Rangers prospects up close. Little did I know that I was getting a first-hand look at a future member of the Avalanche organization.

While I was not watching Graves specifically, his size did stand out fairly quickly. He also used that size effectively. He clogged shooting lanes, and moved opponents away from the front of his own net. I’m not sure if the Avs will call him up this year, but they could certainly use a defensive net-front presence, especially in the absence of Erik Johnson.

Next: Colorado Avalanche Claim Mark Alt Off Waivers

As a final side note to the minor league game, Jeremy Smith was the goalie of record for the Charlotte Checkers. He gave up three goals on 13 shots and got chased. It helped put the Avs season in perspective. Last year, we had to watch an average AHL goalie make 10 appearances for the NHL club. This season, while it hasn’t been perfect, at least we haven’t been subject to that!