Ryan Graves has become a household name around the National Hockey League and rightfully so, but the best is yet to come.
His path to hockey’s highest level and becoming a top tier NHL defencemen is truly awe-inspiring.
Some around the hockey world were caught off guard and shocked that the Colorado Avalanche traded the Yarmouth, Nova Scotia product in July.
With the Avs having so many young defensive prospects in their pipeline it was clear that they couldn’t protect Graves for the expansion draft.
At the end of the day it all came down to a business decision and getting something in return for a very valuable asset.
The subsequent trade seems like ancient history now, but Graves’ play with the Devils this season has gone unnoticed or has flown under the radar.
You see you have to look beyond the numbers to fully appreciate what Ryan Graves brings to the Devils organization.
Jersey have been hit hard by injuries to key players.
Graves has taken an even larger role with the club and continues to log massive minutes in all situations.
Obviously, he can handle the extra time due in large part to his skating ability and makeup as a player, but it’s undoubtedly taxing on other aspects of his game.
The offensive opportunities are still there and his stats line is solid, but it’s extremely difficult to step up and be that ultra offensive guy when you are go to guy in other areas as well.
Graves’ versatility is his strongest attribute which has made him one of the most underrated un-talked about defencemen in the entire league.
Budgeting time on ice is thrown out the window when you’re a player like Graves and when you’re starved for wins like the New Jersey Devils.
After several outstanding offseason moves and acquisitions the Devils find themselves in 7th place in the Wild Card race.
In 33 games with the Devils this season, Graves has 3 goals and 10 assists.
13 points, is that all?
Yes that’s all.
You see, we can’t forget what a player like Graves brings to the table night in, night out.
Graves is a heart and soul player and teammate. He gives the Devils everything he has every night in whatever role he is asked to play.
He’s incredibly low maintenance and durable and can skate for days. Well that’s his job, that’s what he’s paid to do right?
Yes of course, but you would be hard pressed to find a player that works harder and appreciates where he has been and where he is now than Ryan Graves.
The NHL seemed out of reach for Graves. The New York Rangers never gave him a legitimate shot at the show. The Avalanche finally saw his full potential and gave him an opportunity.
That opportunity came after four seasons and a daunting 260 AHL games.
At 26 years old and in only 207 NHL games Ryan Graves has become an elite Top 4 NHL defencemen and an extremely important piece to the New Jersey Devils future.
The best is yet to come for Ryan Graves and the New Jersey Devils.