The New Jersey Devils have acquired defenseman Ryan Graves from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for forward Mikhail Maltsev and a 2021 second-round draft pick.
First off, the second-rounder is not the Devils’ own, rather the Islanders, putting it at 61st overall. New Jersey had the pick from trading away Andy Greene a year-and-a-half ago. Ironically, the original Avalanche second-rounder, which was 60th overall, is the Islanders’ thanks to the Devon Toews trade.
Getting back to the relevant stuff, this deal kills two birds with one stone for Colorado. Even after Erik Johnson waived his no-move clause, Graves was the odd-man out for the Avalanche in the expansion draft. While this deal means that the team will lose two quality players, perhaps forward JT Compher as well, the Avalanche are able to get a fair return for Graves. They also are able to shed his $3.16 million cap hit, which is huge for a team that needs to sign Cale Makar, and has Gabriel Landeskog, Philipp Grubauer, and Brandon Saad hitting free agency. They also get Maltsev back. A 2016 4th round draft pick, he was fine in a heavily sheltered role in the New Jersey bottom-six this year. He could factor in as a depth forward for Colorado.
Maltsev, 23, scored six goals with nine assists for 15 points in 33 games for the Devils this year. He played in just one AHL game, and scored in it.
The Devils have the expansion draft protection spot on defense that allowed them to go after a defenseman. Now, either Will Butcher or Jonas Siegenthaler will be open to the Kraken. Graves is a big, solid second-pairing defenseman signed for pretty cheap for a team with a ton of cap room. When his contract expires after the 2022-23 season, he will be an unrestricted free agent. The Devils are not really expected to be good by then, so Graves could be flipped eventually. He had an exceptional 56.37 expected goals percentage (Natural Stat Trick) this past season, although that could be a product of an amazing Colorado team. For Devils fans, think of him as a replacement for Ryan Murray, who is about to leave in free agency.
Graves, 26, scored two goals with 13 assists for 15 points in 54 games for Colorado this year, and was third on the team in ice-time. In his NHL career, all for the Avalanche, Graves has scored 14 goals with 32 assists for 46 points in 149 games.