The Avalanche dealt Graves just days ahead of the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft. It’s a foregone conclusion that Graves was going to be left unprotected, allowing Colorado to protect Devon Toews, Cale Makar, and Samuel Girard from the Kraken. With this trade, Colorado and general manager Joe Sakic are able to recoup some assets for Graves who they could’ve lost for nothing. With Graves’ spot opening up, expect young Bowen Byram to get an extended look in Colorado’s top-four defense core next season, possibly paired with Girard.
It’s also rather crucial for Colorado to clear some cap room, especially while they’re able to deal an expendable asset. With three giant free agents coming up with Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, and Philipp Grubauer, freeing up Ryan Graves’ $3.17MM cap hit gives Colorado that much more flexibility. Colorado’s got a somewhat promising prospect in return, too. Maltsev broke into the league this season, scoring six goals and nine points in 33 games. It was a nice showing for the 23-year-old rookie, who was drafted 102nd overall in 2016. Maltsev isn’t a guarantee to crack the much deeper Colorado roster next season, but he does present some long-term NHL upside for a fair price.
For New Jersey, they acquire a solid bottom-four defender who’s been rather skilled at preventing quality against in recent years. And while this acquisition at the same time last year may have put too much pressure on Graves with the Devils’ thin blue-line, last year’s emergence of rookie Ty Smith allows Graves to more comfortably settle into a second-pairing role with the team, and could possibly boost P.K. Subban’s defensive impacts in the final year of his big contract.
All around, it appears as though both the Avalanche and Devils walk away happy from this deal, with both teams getting exactly what they needed out of the transaction.
All salary figures via CapFriendly.com