Ryan Graves
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Devils add a big defenseman before the expansion draft. 

Tab Bamford

On Thursday night, the New Jersey Devils added size and toughness to their blue line.

The Devils acquired defenseman Ryan Graves from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Mikhail Maltsev and a 2021 second-round pick (No. 61 overall; previously acquired from the New York Islanders).

Graves, 26, has two years left on his contract with an average-annual value of $3,166,667.

During the 2021 season, Graves scored two goals with 13 assists and piled up 55 penalty minutes in 54 games with the Avalanche. He led the club in short-handed time on ice per game (3:18), penalty minutes (55), blocked shots (91) and second in hits (77).

He added one goal and five assists in 10 postseason games during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

What he brings to the table that Jersey didn’t previously have is size; the biggest defenseman on the Devils’ NHL roster was Jonas Siegenthaler (6-3, 211). Graves is listed at 6-5 and 220 pounds.

“Ryan brings physicality, size, an ability to defend in tough situations and a fearless compete level that makes him tough to play against,” Devils Executive Vice President/General Manager Tom Fitzgerald said in the team’s release. “His assertive style of play and ability to play with young defensemen are characteristics that fit into what we are building with our group.”

Graves was originally drafted by the New York Rangers in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. He was traded to Colorado in Feb. 2018.

The addition of Graves gives New Jersey four defenseman under contract for next season who are at least 26 years old.