The Colorado Avalanche have announced a new three-year contract for Ryan Graves, one of their remaining restricted free agents. The contract will carry an average annual value of $3.16MM and remove the need for salary arbitration that Graves elected last week. CapFriendly provides the full breakdown:
- 2020-21: $2.5MM
- 2021-22: $3.0MM
- 2022-23: $4.0MM
Though he doesn’t generate the headlines of Cale Makar or bring the experience of Erik Johnson, Graves proved this season to be an incredibly valuable piece on the Avalanche blue line. The 25-year-old led the entire league in +/- during his first full season in the NHL, finishing at a +40 in 69 games. That number represented his strong contribution at both ends of the rink, registering 26 points while also logging 150 blocked shots and 112 hits.
Graves, a fourth-round pick of the New York Rangers in 2013, ended up in the Colorado system following a 2018 trade that saw former top pick Chris Bigras head the other way. Almost immediately he made an impact at the AHL level and was playing in the NHL before the calendar year was up.
A fine skater even at 6’5″, Graves possesses a booming shot and has proven irreplaceable on the Colorado penalty kill. He averaged nearly three minutes a night short-handed, more than any other Avalanche player other than Johnson. For a team loaded with puck-movers and talented offensive weapons on the back end, Graves place as a more reliable defensive complement is secure.