Colorado Avalanche Ryan Graves: Maritimer Wants to Make the NHL

DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 31: Ryan Graves #27 of the Colorado Avalanche makes his on ice NHL debut against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center on December 31, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 31: Ryan Graves #27 of the Colorado Avalanche makes his on ice NHL debut against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center on December 31, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves took some time to speak with a local sports writer about his offseason and hopes for next season.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves is in his native Nova Scotia playing with some fellow “maritimers.” A couple of those maritimers are familiar to the Avs — Shane Bowers and, of course, our superstar Nathan MacKinnon.

Graves is fresh off of re-signing with the Avalanche organization. He had filed for arbitration, but he signed before it came even close to his hearing. (Read more here)

The 24-year-old defenseman is from a town about an hour away from Halifax. He spends most of his summer in Charlottetown, which is the capitol of Prince Edward Island. However, he’s currently in Halifax for training.

John Moore, a local sports writer, spoke with Graves before he took to the ice with his Avs teammates and some other Nova Scotians.

During the interview, Graves said he felt “fortunate” to get a chance to play in the NHL last season. In fact, he played 26 games with Colorado this last season, recording 3 goals and 2 assists.

Apparently, it got into his blood. He said unequivocally his goal is to play with the Avs again:

"“I’m hoping to stick around next year and get to play in the National Hockey League, hopefully establish myself as a regular.”"

Colorado acquired Graves at the trade deadline in 2018 in exchange for fellow defenseman Chris Bigras. He played 21 games with the San Antonio Rampage before the Eagles became Colorado’s AHL affiliate. He started the season in Loveland, but ended it in Denver.

All teams conduct exit interviews at the conclusion of the season. Moore asked Graves about his. Sure enough, Ryan says the team told him to “come in and compete for a spot.”

Graves talked a little about what he needs to work on to crack the NHL lineup on a regular basis. Essentially, what that boils down to is “working hard this summer” and trying to get himself “into the best shape possible” so he can take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves, likely in training camp and the preseason.

"“[I’m] giving myself the best chance possible to make that team…Hopefully I can stick around.”"

Now, one thing that the current Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has made clear is that players must show up to training camp in peak physical condition. They go through conditioning tests when they get back. Players who are not up to snuff are starting out the season on the wrong foot.

As mentioned, Graves is from Nova Scotia, same as Bowers and MacKinnon. He’s in Halifax, which is an hour away from his native Yarmouth and a few hours away from Chralotteville. However, his reason for being there is to practice with NHLers.

He said of the situation:

"“It’s cool to be able to have people from the Avalanche organization, the maritimes, as I said that maritime connection… I’m here to skate with some elite hockey players. Nate and I are the same age, so it’s cool to be able to play with him and see the player he’s become and the star he’s become.”"

Ryan proceeded to talk about maritime people for a couple more sentences.

Now, I’d like to take a moment to celebrate something. Neither Graves nor Moore mentioned the elephant of the maritimes, superstar Cole Harbour native Sid Crosby. Hallelujah!

Anyway, Graves also talked about his style of play:

"“There’s been a progression toward my game. I’ve played on a few different junior teams and then the American Hockey League and now the National Hockey League. I’m a defense-first kind of defenseman. There’s a two-way aspect to my game, but I’m definitely more concentrated in my own end… and shutting guys down.”"

I’m going to say it outright. I think he’s a younger version of Ian Cole, one that doesn’t play irresponsibly, and one that’s definitely younger. Colorado is stacked on the blueline, but he could find his way to the bottom pairing with that kind of skill set.

Indeed, that’s how Graves sees the situation:

"“That’ll be what gets me into the National Hockey League and what will be my bread and butter. There’s always a two-way aspect to the game, but just being good defensively, physical, and dependable.”"

Side note: I’m not sure why Ryan keeps stating the full name of the league instead of using the acronyms. Maybe it’s a maritimer thing.

Next. Graves Deserves his Shot. dark

Here’s the full video:

So, at the time of writing, the Colorado Avalanche have eight players listed on the NHL roster, with one of them being Cole, who won’t start the season after hip surgery. It’s possible Conor Timmins or Bo Byram might challenge for a spot.

However, if Graves can beat out Kevin Connauton and/or Mark Barberio in the preseason, he might just make opening night.