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Colorado Avalanche trade Ryan Graves to New Jersey in Expansion Draft move

The Avs get back Mikhail Maltsev and a second round pick

NHL: JUN 08 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round - Golden Knights at Avalanche
DENVER, CO - JUNE 08: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves (27) shoots during a Stanley Cup Playoffs second round game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on June 8, 2021.
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche have traded defenseman Ryan Graves to the New Jersey Devils for Mikhail Maltsev, and a 2021 second round pick, specifically the 60th overall pick originally from the Islanders. This trade comes two days before the NHL transaction freeze comes into effect ahead of the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.

Why did this trade happen?

Even after Erik Johnson agreed to waive his no-movement clause, Graves was still the team’s fourth defenseman and was certainly going to be exposed in the Draft. With this trade, the Avalanche get something for Graves rather than nothing and Seattle can have one of JT Compher and Joonas Donskoi, who are relatively less impactful players, instead.

The Avs expansion protection list should look like this now:

  • Forwards: MacKinnon, Rantanen, Burakovsky, Kadri, Jost, Nichushkin, Landeskog (hopefully, maybe?)
  • Defenders: Makar, Girard, Toews
  • Goalie: Grubauer/Miska/Johansson (TBD)
  • Notably Exposed: Compher, Donskoi, Johnson, etc

Like him or not, Graves is a top-four defenseman that the Avs used to great effect. He had his flaws — some of which have shown themselves to be useful in the playoffs, for better or worse — but he could exist as a foil around more talented defensemen that propped him up in terms of possession hockey. You could do with much worse.

What did the Avs get back?

The second round pick is 60th overall (from NYI) and somewhat of a no-brainer. The Avs don’t have their own second round pick, as it was traded for Devon Toews, so now they own a first, second, third, and seventh; all the most important picks.

Mikhail Maltsev is a 23-year-old, 6’3” left winger who is coming off his rookie season with the Devils after developing in the SKA St. Petersburg program (the best in Russia). The former fourth round pick played on the fourth line, scoring four goals and seven points in 33 games. His shot numbers are surprisingly decent for a player on the Devils, with team shooting and save percentages ruining his goal differential. Judging by his shot map, he shoots from everywhere and at a pretty high rate. He’ll fight for a bottom-six spot on the Avs next season.

The Avs also netted about $2.3 million in cap space in the deal, giving them $26 million to sign up to 12 players. Among those signings needs to include contracts for Gabriel Landeskog and Brandon Saad (or their replacements), extensions for Cale Makar and Tyson Jost, and a starting goalie. The Avs have been far apart in numbers with Landeskog, so this gives them more to work with.

The Avs top four next season should include the protected three, EJ, and potentially one of the young guys in Byram or Timmins.