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Avalanche offseason

Ryan Graves traded to New Jersey Devils; Here’s what it means for the Avs moving forward



Avalanche d-man ryan graves

This is hot off the wire here: the Colorado Avalanche have traded Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils for left wing Mikhail Maltsev and a second-round selection in the 2021 NHL draft (No. 61 overall).

So there you have it. There goes any worry about losing Ryan Graves for nothing to Seattle in the expansion draft on July 21. Of course, that means Ryan Graves is no longer a member of the Avs, quite possibly because they had intel that the Kraken would have taken him with their Avs pick. We may never know on that, but the Avs pre-empted such a move by trading him away for at least something.

A second-round pick in any draft is never a bad thing, and the Avs did not have a second-round pick in this year’s draft prior to this deal. Who is Mikhail Maltsev? Well, to this point he hasn’t made much of a mark in his NHL career. He’s 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, a left winger from Russia who played 33 games for the Devils in his rookie season this year and had six goals and nine points. He had 55 shots in the 33 games, which isn’t bad. He’s a fourth-round pick from the 2016 draft (102nd overall).

Translation: he’s a bit of project as a young guy. Kind of like Graves was when they acquired him from the New York Rangers in exchange for Chris Bigras a few years ago.

Graves transformed himself from a career minor-leaguer to a guy who often played with Cale Makar on the Avs’ top 2 defensively the last couple of years.

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I’ve said all along that I really like Graves as a player, but the expansion draft was going to put the squeeze on the Avs as far as keeping a guy like him. I think this was otherwise a tremendous move by Joe Sakic to get some assets for him. I think this trade is a clear indication that the Avs thought the Kraken would take him. Better to get some assets for him, therefore, than see him go to Seattle for nothing.

Graves’ departure not only clears $3.16 million from the Avs’ payroll (though Maltsev adds $809,000 back to the cap – though his is a two-way contract whereby he’d only cost the Avs $82k if he plays for the Colorado Eagles), it creates more opportunity now for youngsters such as Bo Byram and Conor Timmins on the back end. And, maybe, it clears enough space to sign a guy like a Ryan Suter on the free-agent market, if the Avs don’t feel like either Byram or Timmins is ready to play full-time this coming season.

Joe Sakic thought ahead in making this kind of deal. In an expansion year, a guy like Graves was always at risk of being lost for nothing. I think Sakic did a fine job of gathering assets for him in the meantime.

Plus, who know what might become of that second-round pick? This is considered a pretty deep draft year, so I expect the Avs to come away with a nice player with that 61st pick.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Matt Briggle

I’m good with this deal. Don’t know anything about the kid, but him and the pick could be interesting. Now we need the Kraken to be in a desperate search for centers and take Compher. That should speed up negotiations with Landy and Grubi with an extra $6.6 mil to play with.


My problem with the deal is our undersized D just got more undersized – fingers crossed Timmins & Byram can make up the difference – Sutter is looking better and better.


A healthy Erik Johnson should bring the much needed physicality.

Matt Briggle

I don’t think the undersized thing is as big of a deal as some folks. Did G have a bad round against Vegas? Yes. The most glaring of his mistakes that I think of during that series were when he was on the ice paired with Nemeth and clearly didn’t trust his partner to make a good play with the puck so he just tried to do it all himself. Give him a good partner that he can trust to make the right play with the puck and his value goes up exponentially since his game is based on his… Read more »


No, it’s a big deal being undersized on defense with mini Sammy Girard. As you advance in the playoffs, the ice gets smaller and the physicality increases. The Avs will never win a Stanley Cup with dinky defensmen like Girard. He is a huge liability and has been exposed by Vegas for the rest of the NHL to see. Hammered in the corners giving up puck possession and shying away from contact near the end of the Vegas series after being pounded, mercilessly, by the Knights. Trusting Nemeth had nothing to do with his play. Girard couldn’t make any play… Read more »

Yan Girard

This season, Makar is at the 31 rank in NHL for the even strenght time per game with 19:12. Girard is at the 18 rank with 19:34. Respectively, Makar (60.9) and Girard (60.3) are first and second for the corsi in NHL at even strenght among the defensemen that played minimum 40 games (ref.: You can continue to keep your eyes closed but the numbers are there. It’s not a question to be blind about the game by Girard or his ability. The best form of defence is attack. When you control the puck, you can’t get scored. Furthermore, when a team… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Alexander A
Yan Girard

To hear you talk about Avs, you must find that the seasons are long 🙁


No – just the desire to see one more Stanley Cup Championship before I buy my ticket, so to speak. And, the lack of understanding by you and Super Joe that you can’t win in the playoffs without a physical defense and you can’t win with smaller defenseman like Sam Girard. Giving up on Graves tells me that Sakic believes Girard is a better player and the earlier jettisoning of Big Z says that size and physicality isn’t important to the direction and future of the Avs defense. Foolhardy in my opinion and I won’t be happy that I’m proven… Read more »

Yan Girard

Presumably, Super Joe and I aren’t the only ones to have a lack of understanding. The most hockey analysts predicted that the Avs would achieve the Stanley Cup final ( . Also, the odds to win Stanley Cup were in favor of the Avs ( The predictions taking into account all important factors that can influence the results. If the fact to have Makar and Girard in his alignment because they are undersize was a guenuine disadvantage, how do you explain the predictions? In these predictions, I didn’t see Montreal nowhere in Stanley Cup final. You are a lucky man… Read more »


Stanley Cups talk and losers walk. Makar is not undersized compared to Girard – – in fact, just about anybody in hockey is big compared to Slinkin Sammy. All those odds favoring the Avalanche winning the Cup are bullshit. A team that can’t get past the second round? Hope you get a second mortgage and place it all on the Avs to win. Easy money. In a couple of weeks, Landy will be gone, Grubauer in doubt and we’ll be left with Slick Sammy. At least you’ll be happy.

Yan Girard

Why to use Samuel Girard as Turk’s Head to explain the elimination of the Avs? Did you watch the playoffs? I invite you to well review all the goals scored by Vegas against Avs. You will realize that very few of these goals are directly the responsibility of Makar and Girard. Makar is 5.11 and Girard is 5.10. Your criteria of 5.11 is completely stupid. You don’t seem realize the effectiveness of Girard in the game. You think that Girard does figure skating. You have to be blind of what Girard does on the ice. You have never noticed that… Read more »

Joshua Canfield

I agree. I believe that Sakic is acutely aware of how small the defensive corp is. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bring in someone via Free Agency. (ie. How he brought in Ian Cole or Greg Pateryn over the years).


I don’t think Sakic is acutely aware of how small the defense is otherwise he wouldn’t have traded Graves. Joe thinks he can win with a mini defenseman like Sam Girard. Ain’t gonna happen. I liked Pateryn’s size but he was slow as molasses and you have to find size and reasonable speed on defense. The Nemeth move was puzzling – – in fact, Joe completely struck out at the NHL Trade Deadline last year. Ridiculous moves. Dumb moves. They did absolutely nothing to help the Avs win a Stanley Cup and in some ways, made the team worse.


Sucks the deal had to be made but better to get something for him. I wouldn’t be surprised it Sakic made a deal with the Kraken for them to take Compher.

Matt Briggle

I suspect they will leave both Compher and Donskoi exposed to Seattle and they will both be tempting for them to take. I also suspect the Avs would be fine with them taking either one of them as we really need the cap space and they have a number of rookies who deserve a chance at taking that next step in their careers. On top of which if they have a bit of cap space and feel they need a middle 6 forward at the deadline they have the flexibility to do that then. The only reason Sakic would have… Read more »


I too think they’ll both be exposed. But I think it would be better if Compher went. With Jost taking a step forward and Newhook around there is more centre depth. Compher is too expensive to play on the 4th line, which is where he’d probably end up. Donskoi can play up and down the line up. But we shall see.


Great move by Sakic! Remember that we acquired Graves (a former 4th rounder) for Bigras, a once highly touted second rounder. So in my opinion, this very much resets the clock. Mind you even for his size, Graves is very much an imperfect defenseman. His +40 a couple of years ago boosted his image significantly to the point where some see him as being overvalued in the current market.

Joshua Canfield

Exactly. Sakic traded Brigas for a 4th rounder and a couple years later traded that 4th rounder for a prospect and a 2nd round pick. Not bad at all.


I think this was a good and necessary move by Sakic. The first domino of an offseason to free up cash to sign the guys we really need. Yes, Graves was a good 3rd pairing Dman and good on the penalty kill. I think his physicality aspect might be overrated. How many guys do you remember that he really rocked this last season and in the playoffs . I only remember the Vegas guy that he flattened in game one and that was because the guy admired his pass and kept his head down if I remember correctly. I still… Read more »

Matt Briggle

Totally agree with you. I thought they were going to have to move at least two of the three contracts between Graves, Compher, and Donskoi. Graves obviously had the most value of them and they at least got some return for him. Now just to make sure that Seattle takes one of the other two and I think they’ll be good on the cap issue for next year unless they really want to make a splash in free agency.

He’s dead Jim

Graves was a good second pair D man but he had some limitations. Flipping him for a prospect and a pick was smart. Now Seattle (most likely) has to pick an Avs forward or EJ which will help free up some cap space. Team needs a facelift after this year. More changes to come.

John Mauss

Agree completely that this was a good move by Joe. Also agree with many good comments. Only want to add one thing. I think this also means Avs have confidence that Eric Johnson will be back in good form.

[…] Colorado: Knowing they would lose steady defenseman Ryan Graves, the Colorado Avalanche dealt him to New Jersey for Mikhail Maltsev and a second-round selection. The trade and what it means for the Avs going forward.  […]

[…] Colorado Hockey Now: The Avs traded defenseman Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils. Graves played pretty well against the Golden Knights in Round Two–what this means for the Avs going forward. […]

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