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Avalanche Re-Signs Ryan Graves

October 14th, 2020 by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has re-signed defenseman Ryan Graves to a three-year contract through the 2022-23 season.

Graves, 25, led the NHL with a +40 plus/minus rating this past season, the first Avalanche player to lead the league in that category since Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg (+52) in 2002-03. Graves’ +40 mark was the highest ever by a Colorado defenseman and tied for the second-highest rating by a blueliner in franchise history (Quebec’s Mario Marois was +49 in 1983-84). He became the first NHL defenseman to finish +40 or better in 10 years (Jeff Schultz, +50 with Washington in 2009-10).

The Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, native finished with 26 points (9g/17a) in 69 games, ranking second among Avs defensemen in goals and tied for third in points. He was first on the team and sixth in the NHL with 150 blocked shots and ranked second on the club in hits (112).

Graves scored a goal in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut on Aug. 2 vs. St. Louis, becoming the fourth defenseman in Avalanche/Nordiques history to score a goal in his first career playoff game, joining Cale Makar (2019), Nikita Zadorov (2018) and Brett Clark (2006). He finished the postseason with three points (1g/2a) in 15 contests and led the team with 37 blocked shots.

“We’re pleased to bring Ryan back for three more years,” said Colorado Avalanche Executive Vice President / General Manager Joe Sakic. “He bolstered our offense on the back end and is a big, powerful defender who earned his way into a top role on our blue line this past season.”

Colorado’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy for “perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey” as voted by the local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, Graves made his first appearance on an NHL Opening Night roster this season. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound blueliner was a “plus player” in 35 of his 69 games and posted a “minus” rating only 11 times. He was a “plus” player in eight consecutive games, Nov. 27-Dec. 11, the first Avalanche player to post +1 rating or better in eight straight contests since Peter Forsberg from Jan. 2-15, 2004 (eight) and the first Avs defenseman since Adam Foote from Feb. 19-Mar. 5, 1996 (also eight).

A fourth-round selection (110th overall) of the New York Rangers in the 2013 NHL Draft, Graves was acquired by the Avalanche in a trade on Feb. 26, 2018 and made his NHL debut during the ensuing season, on Dec. 27 at Vegas. He finished the 2018-19 campaign with five points (3g/2a) in 26 games with the Avs and nine points (2g/7a) in 32 contests with the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Colorado Eagles.

Graves has totaled 77 points (24g/53a) in 260 career AHL games with the Hartford Wolf Pack, San Antonio Rampage and the Eagles. As a rookie in 2015-16, Graves led all Hartford defensemen with nine goals and added 12 assists for 21 points, earning a selection to the AHL All-Star Game.

Prior to turning pro, Graves played four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 2011-15, totaling 86 points (25g/61a) in 245 games with the Prince Edward Island Rocket, Charlottetown Islanders, Val-d’Or Foreurs and Quebec Remparts. He served as an alternate captain with both the Islanders (2013-14) and the Remparts (2014-15), helping Val-d’Or capture the President’s Cup as league champions in 2014.

Graves competed in consecutive Memorial Cup tournaments in 2014 and 2015. At the 2015 tournament, he was tied for second in scoring among defensemen with five points (2g/3a) in five games to earn a spot on the Memorial Cup All-Star Team.

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