Colorado Avalanche: Ryan Graves Talks about Cale Makar

DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 03: Ryan Graves #27 of the Colorado Avalanche arrives to the Pepsi Center prior to the game against the Calgary Flames on October 03, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 03: Ryan Graves #27 of the Colorado Avalanche arrives to the Pepsi Center prior to the game against the Calgary Flames on October 03, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves spoke on Sports Social about his rise to make the NHL, but mostly about D partner Cale Makar.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves is up at Prince Edward Island  — a place he says is very cold in the winter but gorgeous in the summertime. He’s from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, but he makes his home on the island.

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He joined Altitude TV’s Marc Moser and Conor McGahey for today’s Sports Social. He did mention that he’d like to get back to Denver, but the borders are currently closed. Teams are hoping to start informal, small practices by the end of the month, but some or all players who left may have to go through two weeks of quarantine again.

Anyway, Graves did talk about his rise through the hockey ranks — in typically humble fashion. The New York Rangers selected Graves in the fourth round in 2013, but he only ever played in the AHL for them. “Obviously [the Rangers] had guys that they wanted to play on their team.”

The Colorado Avalanche acquired Graves at the 2018 trade deadline for Chris Bigras in what was widely thought of as an AHL-level trade. Indeed, Graves finished the season in the AHL and spent parts of last season with the Eagles.

That’s all changed now. Graves was inexplicably scratched from one game this season, but otherwise he’s been a mainstay on the blueline, logging most of his minutes with Cale Makar.

Now, most hockey players seem not to like to talk about themselves. Superstar Nathan MacKinnon is infamous for that. However, they love to talk about their teammates. Graves is no stranger to either camp. As modest as he was about himself, he didn’t hesitate to praise his defensive partner, Cale Makar.

Graves relates a story that I hadn’t heard before, though he says he’s told it “a few times.” As we know, Sam Girard got hurt in the second game of the playoffs last year. Graves was “the next guy in line” to play. However, we also know what happened that weekend with Makar’s whirlwind of winning the Hobey Baker award, playing in the NCAA finals, signing his pro contract, and joining the team.

According to Graves, the coaching staff was unsure if they’d play the new arrival in the playoff game that night. They decided to make the decision after seeing how he did in the morning skate. Graves says:

"“He was out there at morning skate, and he was the best defenseman on the ice. I was like ‘There’s no chance he’s not playing tonight.’ He looked so good.”"

Now, Graves could be forgiven for feeling a little bitter. He did not, in fact, play in a single playoff game though the Avs played 12 across two series. As he relates the story, though, his delight in Cale as a player is genuine.

Indeed, he goes on to lay more praise at his defensive partner’s feet:

"“He’s definitely a special talent…As far as playing with him, it’s very easy. He’s dynamic. He makes things happen. There’s a lot to be said about someone who can break the puck out with their feet instead of always having to make a pass… Sometimes he gets the puck and he has no option, he just moves his feet and does that little shimmy thing and he beats a guy one-on-one, and all of a sudden you’re going in the offensive zone.”"

Oh, yeah, that little shimmy thing. I love that little shimmy thing. I wish it had a better name, like Girard’s tornade, but the little shimmy thing is a thing of beauty no matter what you call it.

Anyway, according to Graves, Makar’s talents make his job easier “and everyone on the ice better.” Isn’t there a Corsi for that?

By the way, Makar talked about playing with Graves when he was on Sports Social last week. He really likes having Ryan as a partner.

Graves, like all the Avs players who’ve gotten on Zoom or Instagram to chat before him, believes this team has a real shot at the Stanley Cup this season. “You want to use your window,” he explained. And those windows are all too brief.

Fun fact: In the AHL skills competition, his slap shot was clocked at 103 MPH. Savage.

Side note: I’m rewatching the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals, and the ESPN broadcast used to measure some of the shots and post the speed. It was a cool in-game feature I wish they’d bring back.

Here’s the video:

Graves finished with some positivity:

"“I’m sure we will eventually resume this season.”"

I hope so. I really do hope so.

light. Related Story. Graves' 1st NHL Fight

As Graves said, the Colorado Avalanche want to take advantage of the window they’re in now. And I firmly believe the group of players they have now is the one that could bring the Stanley Cup to Colorado for the third time.