The Curious Case of Ryan Graves

Subtitle: Saving [private] Ryan Graves.

With a playoff layoff upon us, I'm turning my attention to speculation on the Kraken expansion draft. What do you do when you have four young, worthy defensemen to protect? Ryan Graves is wrapping up his second, full, solid season with the Avs and appears to be leveling up his play in the post season. I'm predicting this will continue in the next rounds. He is the one young defenseman the Avs have with size and is using it more and more. He plays well with others on the backline, can score and contribute in "system", kills penalties, and has been more responsible defensively IMO, than last year.

Assumptions for this Exercise:

  • Avs Sign Saad (UFA); Landy (UFA); Grub (UFA); Makar (RFA); Jost (RFA);
  • EJ waives his NMC
  • Avs protect these seven skaters: MacKinnon, Landy, Rantanen, Burakovsky, Makar, Toews, and Girard

Three Expansion draft scenarios:

1) Avs protect 8 skaters and a goalie, adding Ryan Graves to the seven. This would leave a host of good forwards for the Kraken to select: Jost, Compher, Saad, Kadri, Donskoi, and Nichushkin. I don't see Kraken taking Kadri under any circumstances. I would make a side deal and trade Avs 2021 #1 to basically protect other middle-six forwards, while retaining Graves, leaving a choice between Kadri, Jost and Compher for Seattle . This would be solid use of 2021 draft capital to retain both Graves and several middle-six forwards. Maybe Avs get a 3rd or 4th pick back from Seattle.

2) Avs protect 7 forwards and 3 defensemen and a goalie. In this case, Avs protect the seven and add three forwards: Saad, Donskoi, and Nuke. This would leave Graves unprotected, along with Kadri, Jost, and Compher. Kraken would most likely select Graves, IMO, UNLESS.... Again, a side deal could be made as before to have Kraken NOT take Graves specifically. Losing that #1 pick is again draft capital well spent and maybe getting a later pick back again.

3) Avs Avs protect 7 forwards and 3 defensemen and a goalie, same skaters as scenario #2, but.... Instead of leaving Graves exposed or trading a pick to protect, the Avs TRADE Graves to a defense-needy team that does not have three of their own defensemen worth protecting in the draft. We would lose Graves, but maybe pick up a solid #1 pick in 2021 OR a high-level prospect that fits Avs system. In this case, capitalize on Graves trade value instead of risk losing to Seattle. Avs would still be exposing Jost, Compher, and Kadri.

Which case would you prefer? Am I focused too much on Grave's value beyond 2021? How do YOU see the expansion draft playing out for AVS? Which player besides Kadri would you be OK losing? Hit me up in the comments. is a fan community, allowing members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Colorado Avalanche and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editors of